Monday Morning Manager
Roy and his boss were going through the usual year end gyrations that required them to get out the crystal ball and "forecast" what sales would look like for next year. Despite the fact that a large portion of Roy's sales came from repeat (evergreen) clients, he still had to figure out where the growth would come from. Worse yet, he's scared to death that something unforeseen might cause the loss of a key account that would completely derail his plans. Management has given him some target accounts, and also asked him to focus on certain offerings, but he was still nervous about how he could make all this happen. He knew he had to get out to a fast start but just wasn't sure on how to go about it.
Roy's dilemma isn't unusual for those reps that haven't taken the time to get their clients to help them with next year's planning. The pressure he feels is because he is playing a guessing game, and can only hope that he'll catch a break somewhere that will make his year. Although he's been active in the field, he really doesn't know what kind of plans his clients might have for the coming year.
There's nothing wrong with involving your clients in your planning and doing a bit of prospecting at the same time. Roy needs to step back and ask his clients about the big picture so that he knows where to play offense or defense. Build your own variations of these ideas:
“This year we are on track to do $_____ of business together and I'm wondering if we should expect anything different next year? [await a response] Why do you say that?”
“My guess is there is no way it could happen, but if you were me and you wanted to put a plan in place to do ___% more business together next year, what would it look like?”
“Are there any items/services you're currently buying from someone where you don't really care where you get them from or maybe it's the only thing you buy from them and we could add it to our list of things to talk about?”
“What have you got on your desk that drove you crazy this year and could talk about how to keep it from happening again?”
“If you gave report cards to your business partners, how would we score? What grade would we get? Other than lowering the price, what would you like to see to make you comfortable to give us an "A"?”
“If my manager asks me what to expect for next year, what should I tell him?”
Recall the old saying: "A lack of planning on your part doesn't constitute an emergency on my part." Don't make your next year's forecast an emergency for your clients ... set a Forecast Meeting with your clients as soon as you can.
Final Thoughts for the Morning:
"By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail,"- Ben Franklin
"Reality leaves a lot to the imagination," John Lennon