Whether you realize it or not, your business is seasonal. This is obvious in cases like accountants and lawn care services whose businesses are affected by the actual seasons or calendar events such as Tax Day. For other businesses, seasonal fluctuations may not be as evident, but owners should still plan to adjust with the calendar.
Finances, expenses, and advertising are just a few of the areas you should adapt based on seasonal business. Another area many companies struggle with is adjusting personnel to match their needs. Do you lay people off during the slow times and then rehire, retrain, and reacclimate new people when it gets busy again? Or do you keep your staff year-round and just ride out the times when payroll is heavy and revenue is not?
There’s a third option for dealing with personnel fluctuations that is far more productive: having an annual sales and marketing plan. It can be as basic or as comprehensive as you choose, but if you don’t have a plan, I can guarantee you are leaving revenue on the table.
Here are some simple tips for a great annual sales and marketing plan:
Create a list of activities that that you want your sales staff to accomplish throughout the year. This will include weekly items, such as ten outgoing sales calls per week; monthly in-person visits to key accounts; quarterly networking events; and annual surveys of your competition as well as pricing analysis. Make this more of a “wish list” rather than thinking of it as a practical list—it will be based on time available and the size of your sales staff.
Chart the past 3 years of top-line revenue and identify the months or quarters with the most dramatic ebbs and flows.
Create a blank calendar that allows for monthly entries but is divided by quarters.
Pull up the sales data that backs up these numbers and identify what industries, events, and activities are driving your trends.
Armed with this data, now comes the fun and easy part. We are going to do the equivalent of “drag and drop” for each activity on the annual “to do” list and place them in the time of year that makes the most sense. For example:
If you see a spike in activity in the fall coming from your school accounts, make sure your salespeople are making sales calls to that sector 30-60 days before the business starts. If you have an influx of holiday business, drop that market into October’s plan so you are positioned to get there before anyone else. This is an invaluable sales tool to keep your sales efforts focused.
What about the slow times when the phone is ringing less often? That’s when you direct your staff to concentrate on the activities that need to be done but cannot, under any circumstances, take time away from the sales efforts. This can include training seminars, competition surveys, secret shopping, CRM audit and clean-up, or just about anything that supports the sales efforts but isn’t directly selling to the client.
Every sales office without an annual plan will inevitably have salespeople who cannot get to crucial projects because they are too busy and have no idea what to do when things are slow. After just a few years of unstructured and chaotic activity, a sales office can easily end up with outdated marketing materials, pricing out of line with the market, or, worst of all, grossly out-of-date sales files that leave tens of thousands of dollars up for grabs to your competitors.
With this type of plan, the business owner can know exactly where the sales efforts are being focused at any given time throughout the year and ensure those efforts are in line with current company goals!
Interested in taking your company to the next level with a comprehensive business development plan? Email email@example.com.