Forecasting or predicting your sales for the next or upcoming years is a challenge, especially if your business is new or math is not your forte. Once you have a strong handle on your expenses you should be able to take them to a bookeeper to help you analyse your cashflow.
At the beginning of each year, the biggest tip I can give you is to gear up your sales team so that they want to go out and take the market share from your competitors. To do this, you will need to set clear targets and goals, broken down by month and hold yourself or your sales team accountable to.
In times of recession, planning becomes even more challenging. If you find your targets are drastically off from what you have predicted, you may need to start to evaluate your targets on a monthly versus yearly basis, at least until the market evens out. One of the most important components of success is to measure your sales, review them monthly against your targets and evaluate whether you can do better or your team can achieve more and how. Maybe it is engaging in a new social media campaign, increasing cold calls, attending more networking events – whatever it is, keep your goals in focus.
To help you develop your sales plan, I contacted Kim Duke, Sales Diva, and one of my sales mentors to give you a leg up on your competition.
1. How would you recommend an entrepreneurial mom develop a sales plan?
One of the first words that popped into my mind was "CAREFULLY." Too many entrepreneurs jump into the world of owning their own business with absolutely NO PLAN on how they are going to attract clients.
Developing a sales plan requires research. WINGING IT does not work here!
• You need to know your market - is there a demand for your product?
• How many competitors do you have and what are their rates?
• How long is your anticipated sales cycle? (The more expensive the product - the longer the sales cycle can be.)
• Yearly, quarterly, monthly and weekly sales targets are essential to also stay on track.
• Of course you also need a list of qualified prospects and what the expected sales would be.
Remember - NOT DOING A SALES PLAN IS NOT AN OPTION.
2. What is the biggest mistake women make in sales?
First mistake? Women mistake closing a sale as some intrusive, icky, nasty thing they have to do. Forget about the phrase "Closing the sale" and instead think of " Opening the door for business."
Mistake #2 Women don't ask enough questions through out the sales process, which means they don't know if they're the best fit for the client.
Mistake #3 - women typically give away too much away for free, hoping that will convince the potential customer to buy from them. (It won't.)
3. What is the best way women can ensure a successful sales plan?
One of the biggest factors harming you is that not enough people know about you and what you provide. You need to create a presence and a brand by networking with the proper channels, creating strategic alliances, using Facebook, Twitter etc in a proper manner (talking about your dog constantly does NOT create business), asking for referrals and making damn sure that you know WHY you're different and WHY a customer should buy from you. If you don't know this - how is a customer supposed to know?
You need to clearly know your niche, what you offer that is unique to the marketplace and the demand for your service. Do not pick a team of people that are all like you. You need diversity of personalities, selling styles but everyone has to have the same work ethic and goal.
4. As the owner of a growing business, it is not always feasible to be doing 100% of the sales yourself, even though you are probably the best at selling your product or service. What is the best way to establish a sales team to sell your product?
You can certainly delegate your sales as long as you are willing to pay for it and monitor it closely. Most entrepreneurs want "someone else to do that nasty sales stuff" and they either pay too much for little results or they expect someone to bust their butt for 100% commission (even though it takes time to establish sales relationships.) You will need to spend money to make money in this case. But stay on top of it and make sure you've picked the right person/people for the job.
Leading a team requires just that. Being a leader. You can't be everyone's friend. Your role is to inspire, support, and provide all the tools necessary for your team's success. Sometimes that means you have to say NO. Sometimes it means you're going to have to go on sales calls. One of the worst things you can do is to micro manage the team and then expect superior results.
Focus on creating a community of people who are prospects, clients and suppliers. Understand that referrals are one of the fastest ways you can grow your business but you HAVE TO ASK FOR THEM.
And if you'd like more free,sassy and savvy sales advice, I'd suggest heading to www.salesdivas.com (How's that for shameless self promotion!)
If you have a business question or have a story that would be a good fit for this blog, let me know at [email protected].