It may only be 12 months ago, but quite a lot has changed in the world since January 2020. Whatever plans you had then for a successful year of selling your products and services, I can pretty much guarantee it isn’t fit for purpose now.
You are probably reading this thinking: “Crikey, we need a SERIOUSLY good plan for 2021 to get out of this mess” or something more like “Yeah, but we sold LOADS in 2020, so we’ll be fine”.
Either way, you are now having to deal with some or all of Lockdown III, the implications of Brexit, the changing landscape of the high street, a struggling hospitality sector and a care sector under more pressure than ever before. It is likely that somewhere along the way these will impact your business in one way or another – even if you don’t yet realise it.
Typical sales plans for the year would start with a similar theme:
• Who is our customer?
• What are we selling? How many do we need to sell? How much do we need to sell it for? Is our pricing going to change from last year? If so, by how much?
• How much do we spend on marketing, building our online sales channels, incentives, offering discounts or rebates?
• What really differentiates us? (Now be honest – is that REALLY unique?) and so on…
All of which is great, and is most likely still very relevant to your plans for 2021. However, where you’ll make real headway this year is to ask yourself a completely new sets of questions:
• Who ‘was’ our customer? Do they still exist? Do they have more or less demand for our products now than before?
• Where do we sit in the food chain for our market? Are we the Porsche 911 or Ford Focus in our sector? (There’s nothing wrong with either by the way, but knowing this can completely change your perspective on pricing, marketing, volume of sales and so forth).
• How do we fulfil orders? Can we pool delivery with others? Can we share warehousing? Do we need a pick-up/takeaway service?
• What demand fluctuations are we likely to see? Can we plan ahead? Make seasonal or peak buying/selling period decisions now around staffing, stock, pricing?
• What does our sales force need to look like? Are they able to embrace working from home? How do they do face-to-face meetings? Do we even need remote sales teams, or can they now be based anywhere and sell on Zoom/Teams etc? How are they now rewarded? Is the company car scheme dead if no one is travelling to client sites anymore? Do they have the necessary (& new skills) needed to sell in 2021?
• We have one of those great products that just ‘sells itself when people see it’ (a touchy-feely type product) – how do we ensure that enough customers are able to still see it, touch it, engage with it if they can no longer visit a store? Do we need to do samples? Testers? Free trials?
And we could go on, and on!
If 2020 taught us anything its that those who can adapt quickly, see new opportunities, embrace change and execute well thought out plans, can achieve huge growth in any market. And those that can’t – will struggle, or worse – go out of business!
There has never been a more important time to have a plan to accomplish your goals. That is why at Alpaca we devised the ‘Ambition Day’.
We use tools and techniques to flush out your purpose, your business goals and potentially any inconsistencies, tensions or obstacles that might prevent you from easily achieving them.
We deploy “radical candour” – meaning we will challenge your thinking and point out any issues or contradictions, not because we’re obnoxious smart alecs, but because we care, and we believe that this challenge helps you focus on areas that have been ignored and left or were maybe “too difficult”, which helps you improve, grow and achieve your goals.
So I’d put that 2020 (2019, 2018, 2017…) sales plan back in the draw, get a blank piece of paper, sit with your most creative, challenging, thought-provoking people and begin planning how you ensure you’re still thriving come January 2022! Or alternatively….give Alpaca a call?