Business Perspectives

What's your sales plan for 2011?

Call it business development, revenue generation or cash flow — it is sales. Selling is the key to U.S. business success or survival in 2011 and beyond. Most everything else has been tried. Now, we must sell.

So, what is your sales plan for 2011?

To ensure greater success, an owner, CEO, sales manager or sales rep would be wise to think through their planned sales activity for 2011, especially during first quarter. Making sales objectives will brighten your year.

Items 1-7 below detail a basic sales plan. Items 8-14 will be new to many. Adjust the following to fit your business.

1. What sales volume are you projecting for 2011?

2. What are you estimating for 2011 first-quarter sales?

3. What first-quarter sales volume are you projecting from your key accounts? What will you present them?

4. When will you be meeting, face-to-face, with your top five accounts during the first quarter?

5. List 20 new potential clients you will call on during 2011. When and what will you sell them?

6. List five new potential accounts you will call on during the first quarter.

7. Who are the largest three accounts, who you don't have, who you want to secure an initial trial order from during 2011? When will you call on them? What will you present?

8. Which five elephant accounts will you be calling on during 2011? An elephant account is a huge potential account that you don't have now. A trial order during 2011 represents a big home run for you and the business. Many will tell you it's impossible — they're too big. Sure, you might not get them, but you can try every year, can't you?

9. Who are your key competitors? What are they offering that you don't? How easy is it to do business with your competitor? Why? How easy is it to do business with you? Why?

10. Which five of your competitors' key accounts would you like to have? When will you nibble on them? How will you nibble?

11. Which of your key accounts are most vulnerable to competitive inroads? How will you immunize them from competitive threats during 2011?

12. What are your selling strengths? How are you leveraging them in your sales presentation?

13. What are your selling weaknesses? How will you overcome your selling weaknesses during 2011 and possibly turn them into strengths?

14. To whom will you report your 2011 sales progress to on an ongoing basis — weekly, monthly?

You must hold yourself accountable to your 2011 sales — consistently reporting your success or failure to another will keep you accountable.

As an owner, CEO or sales manager, not holding your sales reps accountable to a definable, measurable, doable sales plan that requires "stretch" on their part and your part would be a misstep that you should be held accountable for in 2011. Personally, I would hold you accountable for not managing sales aggressively during 2011-12.

The Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce has asked me to present on April 14 a full-morning program focused on selling during recovery in our new normal economy. Call Phyllis Robertson at the chamber, 316-268-1130, to register.