Creating a Sales Plan for the New Year

We’re approaching the end of 2020, meaning that setting a strong sales plan for the New Year is top of all our priorities, as we look ahead to 2021.

Though 2020 might have been full of uncertainties, there’s cause for some real confidence moving into 2021. Having adapted so far in this current climate means that you, your team, and your business are showing flexibility, which is something for which you should feel pride.

So, now we’ve got you a little inspired, we’d like to prepare you to plan your sales goals for the New Year. Here’s how to get ready for 2021.

It’s Nearly 2021 – You’re Now in Phase Two…

We suggest looking at 2021 as a “Phase Two”. Phase One saw every organization facing ever-changing needs. As we all looked to find our feet to be able to pivot our strategies, targets, and direction, a new level of resilience worked its way into our lives. It’s that resilience that will serve you, again and again, come 2021.

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Our goal today is to capitalize on that resilience and create a sales plan that’s more dynamic – and more innovative – than any you’ll have implemented before.

Look Back to Look Ahead

The first step is to pool all the insights we gained in 2020. No sales plan should neglect the valuable knowledge gathered in the past year. Instead, we need to look back and compile the lessons we learned and use them to our advantage.

car mirror with city reflection

Gather your team and work together: what were the vulnerabilities this year exposed? What were the strengths you never knew you had? What were the numbers and metrics that you need to know, to move forward?

Get to grips with what happened in 2020 and use that information for more accurate expectations for the New Year, rather than a copy-and-paste style that simply replicates the goals set for 2020. Let your team highlight the strategies that served them, and pull together what the numbers looked like, quarter by quarter. You’ll get the perspective needed to create realistic forecasts, with which you can create goals that are both challenging and achievable.

Be sure to compare your stats to your industry’s standards; using your stats and an overview of the market as a whole gives a precise picture of your performance in the last twelve months.

Lean on Quarterly Plans, Rather Than Year Long Goals Alone

Of course, you’ll set annual targets, but this year you’ll need to take time each quarter to address how much to pivot. By now you’ll be used to how rapidly the world (and your business) can change, so book in time to adjust your 2021 goals regularly.

We’re looking to set a direction, but now more than ever it’s important to remain responsive – which means getting time scheduled to reassess your sales plan.

Consider Your Essential, Stretch, and Idealistic Targets

We all know numbers are critical. You might be looking to set a goal for the number of customers you want to work with, or the revenue you’d like to bring in this year, but getting the specifics written down means you’ll know when you’ve hit a point of “success.” Less discussed is the importance of essential, stretch, and idealistic goals. Your essential goals are your baseline: what do you need to cover your core costs?

Remember many businesses were unable to cover their baseline costs in 2020. You need the exact figures that show you’re keeping your head just over water, so you’ll know if a quarter’s sales are less than you’d like.

Your stretch target is your next tier, and the one you’re most likely to keep an eye on. It’s the one that’s in that sweet spot of challenging and realistic that we talked about above. You’re aiming to excel what you achieved this year, excite and really test yourselves, and these are the sales goals you’d feel truly satisfied if you reached them this year.

Finally, your idealistic targets. Here we’d look back on a year – or quarter, for younger businesses – that did better than the one preceding it, and use the trajectory of those sales figures to see what a really great year could like. Comparing one successful period to the one before it gives you a sense of what you’re capable of in a more typical market than 2020; use this to dream a little bigger than your stretch target for this year.

Set Your Team Milestones, and Their Individual Goals Too

Using the above you’ll have managed to work through what’s possible for your team, but it’s time to get actionable. Targets need deadlines, and now you’re savvy about your numbers, you can decide what needs to happen when. Present your team with the milestones you’ll all be working together to achieve over the next twelve months— but don’t forget that flexibility we discussed above to give them ideal milestones, with backup milestones too.

people working remotely on a conference call

Next, ensure that your team members each have their own milestones to reach individually. Having specifics gives clarity, and clarity gives confidence – and you need a confident team.

How do you plan for the new year? Hit the comments and let us know how you’re creating a sales plan of your own for the new year ahead of us – and be sure to check out the top five sales trends we documented in 2020 too.