Even service providers can make viable sales projections. Here’s how:
- To do your annual projections, set up a spreadsheet.
- Track your business sales month by month for the previous 12 months.
- Then, pull your numbers for the past two years. Determine your business trend (up, down, or level).
Now that you’ve completed a historical perspective, project (according to your trend) for the next 12 months. If you have difficulties, ask questions like these:
- Am I continuing to get more clients?
- Is my business expanding or contracting at this time?
- Where are the spikes (sharp increases or decreases) in my business?
- What precipitated those changes?
- If the changes are good, how can I repeat the result?
- If there are dips, how can I avoid them?
- Tip: project clients by name and by average term of contract
The coach with whom I spoke also had a variety of products, including e-books, e-courses and workshops. She had never done a projection for her products. Once again, I began with questions:
- What is the sales cycle for each of your products?
- Can you forward-project that cycle for the coming year?
- Do you have new products to add?
- How do you expect them to sell? Are you doing something to introduce them or give those new products additional exposure?
- What is your backup plan in the event your new products are not well received?
- Is there something that you plan to do to change the outcome of your plan? (Remember, the definition of crazy is doing the same thing you’ve always done and expecting different results. Nowhere is that more true than in projections.)
- Now that you’ve answered these questions, go back to your spreadsheet. Project your sales by client.
- Add a single line for each product. For example, add a line for workshops and then for sales at the back of the room in each workshop; add a line for speaking engagements and so on.
- Do a best and worst-case scenario.
There’s definitely no guarantee. As consumers get more cautious with their money, service providers must continue to show additional value. Now is the time to shore up your value statement. Take the time to listen to customers, respond carefully and plan for the future.
A final thought: do your sales projections. Do it now to prepare for 2010.
How do you plan to spend the last six weeks of the year? Here are some of our options:
Social: you flit from luncheon events to open house get-togethers to all-out parties
- Pig-out: cram free sugar and alcohol into your mouth because ‘tis the season
- Future-based: Slave over a 2010 marketing plan to get a jump start on the New Year?
- Debriefing-type: Review 2009 to get the lessons and make a list of successes to-date so as to maximize 2010 efforts?
- All of the above?
The invites already clutter my inbox and litter the desk. The temptation to relax and blow off those remaining days is strong.
“There’s not much left of this year; I’ll hit the ground running in January.”
If that’s so close to home you shudder, consider hard-hitting intentions like one of these:
- Make an editorial calendar for 2010 and begin publishing one newsletter per quarter.
- Review my website copy and revise to reflect new keywords and an overall up-leveling of my business.
- Contact 15 “warm” prospects on/before the end of the year.
- Survey current and past clients to discover areas of growth and opportunity for 2010.
- Produce one new product to launch at/shortly after the first of the year.
- Send a Thanksgiving letter to every person who’s done business with me in the past year.
- Book three speaking engagements for first quarter.
- Complete two new business proposals and get the appointment to present.
Thanks to those who shared their goals with me. I appreciate the inspiration for the rest of us.
Easy as that the five year old lets you know it’s a no-go.
What if business communication happened just as transparently? Truth is: it does. We just fail to recognize and respond to the symptoms.
See if you recognize failed relationships in the following:
- No return call. You’re following up with a potential customer, partner, or volunteer and there’s no response. You place spaced, repeated messages (to various numbers) leaving your name, phone number and reason for calling and get no callback. Emails get no response. Get a clue: there is no relationship.
- Right commentary, no follow through. You’ve probably experienced this situation as a meeting in which commitments were made and then nothing happened. “I’ll get back to you,” means different things to some people. In fact, some people use the phrase as carelessly as “Have a nice day.” If this is your experience, assume the worst. There IS no relationship.
- Missing in action. A cursory glance at the two previous situations may lead you to believe they’re the same. Not so. In my experience, particularly with solopreneurs, even a “contract for services” does not dictate an appearance or a response. (If you work with a vendor missing in action, you know the frustration of continually attempting to close the connection.) Do I need to tell you there is no relationship?
- Answering a different question. It’s amazing that direct questions elicit unrelated answers. Once again, when you continually experience this error message and re-directing doesn’t work, the relationship will not move forward. No relationship exists.
- Intermittent activity. The holiday season brings intermittent activity to the forefront. Networking reaches a maniacal force with parties, luncheons and get-togethers meant to make up for a year of sporadic contact. Guilty parties say, “See you next week at the expo.” My response of “I’ll try to do that,” could simply be translated as “No, thank you.” A relationship valuable enough to warrant my time does not exist.
You probably don’t readily associate Santa photos with an office furniture vendor. Neither did I until I got a well-done invitation encouraging me to bring children for a photo with (or without) Santa.
“Join us to kick off the holiday season with a thank you event for our wonderful clients!”
“Enjoy refreshments and crafts for the kids. Pets welcome.”
My customer loyalty antennae went up. This was a customer touch program, a proactive approach to get clients in the showroom.
Tasteful. Timely. Tempting.
When I called to RSVP I learned I’d get a disk with my picture. Cool. My 2009 Holiday cards are set. I look forward to the event.
So how can you make this kind of event work for your business? Incidentally, the sponsoring vendor absorbed the cost (photographer, disk) of this promotion.