How much sales growth is it possible for your company to achieve next year? Forsome companies, this number is derived from a thorough examination of thepotential market. For most companies, it is more of an abstract goal: " Wewill grow sales by 25% in the year ahead."

Regardless of the method used to set your company's sales growth plan, thedifference between achieving that plan and missing it depends upon how readyyour organization is to address next year's sales opportunities.

As you plan for the year ahead, three factors will have the greatest impacton your results:

1. The market and competition
Your 1999 sales have taken place in a particular business climate. Next year, doyou expect to have a new market advantage that you didn't have this year? Or doyou expect additional competitive activity, making your sales job moredifficult?

What about pricing? Will the marketplace allow you to hold, or even raise,your prices? Or will the value of the average sale go down?

If the marketplace will not allow you to achieve your planned rate of revenuegrowth, you may need to:

  • Add new products to your line
  • Develop add-ons and enhancements of current products to raise their total selling price
  • Enter new market niches

2. The readiness of your sales team
In general, seasoned salespeople sell more than new staff. They know yourproduct line, your industry and the competition. Much of your sales results nextyear will depend upon the collective seniority of your sales team.

History will tell you the average annual sales of someone who has been withyou for three months, a year or three years. It will also tell you how long ittakes a new hire to begin producing. As you enter the new year:

  • Set a sales forecast for each salesperson based upon their likely individual performance, taking into account their experience with your company and prior track record.

  • If the total of these individual forecasts is not enough to achieve your plan, consider what you must do in terms of sales skills development, hiring more people or opening new reseller channels.

3. Your sales support infrastructure
Sales growth places a strain on your entire organization: Product developmentpeople spend more time with major prospects, managers spend more time at tradeshows and conferences and more help is needed to respond to prospect inquiries.

Take a close look at every step in your selling cycle to determine thedollars and man-hours that go into each sale. Make sure you have the resourcesin place to handle the growing requirements of your sales team:

  • CRM systems and other IT support
  • Sales training
  • Technical sales support
  • Phone, trade show, mail and E-mail lead handling
  • Literature development and fulfillment
  • Proposal writing
  • Customer service and other post-sale support
Copyright 1999 SalesDoctors Magazine and the Author. All Rights Reserved.