Do you remember projecting 2009 revenue as we stared into the abyss of the Great Recession?
We all knew it was coming as it started with plenty of notice in the Fall of 2008. Many businesses projected negative sales growth, while others simply would not accept it. The organizations that intentionally gave their teams over the top numbers to hit lost a lot of ground on annual long-term business and blew Q1 because they demanded so much more than what the market would bear for them.
Setting clear and manageable goals is crucial for 2021.
Unrealistic Hopes and an Unpredictable Year
HubSpot recently surveyed over 500 sales leaders and found 40% of them have missed revenue targets this year. The events of 2020 have certainly changed the way sales leaders plan for the upcoming year. To keep businesses operating and growing, they must address the factors preventing them from reaching their revenue targets in today’s market (HubSpot).
One of the most dangerous things organizations can do is place unrealistic hopes onto their business going into an unpredictable year.
To our c-suite readers: Do you despise “pie in the sky sales projections” from your sellers? It’s because you need real numbers to work with, right? Then why should you push “pie in the sky” numbers downwards with the same zeal? Or numbers that are too low? You shouldn’t!
However, if you have data that shows that the market will be better than your competitors believe, you can capitalize. So, what should you do? Be accurate with your market numbers and then push your sales team to improve them within their capabilities.
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8 Ways to Set Attainable Numbers for 2021
1. Look at Sales Data from Multiple Years
What does your historical data show? Notice the difference between political years, even if no political dollars were spent with you. Election years make a difference in the market, and we’re coming out of one of the most impactful political years ever.
2. Forecast Well — And Better Than Your Competitors
Pricing and tactics will allow you to gain an edge on the competition. Going after share or margins are tactics sales leaders need to decide upon soon. If you forecast better than your competition, then you’ll have a better grasp of whether to focus on share or margin.
3. Accuracy is Vital
If your competitors predict market performance better than you, then your pricing will be off, and the market will correct you. This will put you into a hole at the beginning of the New Year, and you can’t afford that. So be accurate!
4. Depend on Your Sales Team
They’ll achieve market share gains for you — but don’t expect them to will their efforts into success alone. Study those market share reports. A great sales organization can increase the market growth by another 10-30%. More than that, you could be setting your people up for failure.
5. Listen to Key Accounts Carefully in Q4
Their planning insight is valuable to you and gives you the best picture of reality. Project them account by account and go see them.
6. Lean on Third-Party Forecasting Capabilities
Research shows that companies with accurate sales forecasts are 10% more likely to grow their revenue year-over-year and 7.3% more likely to hit their quota. It’s worth the time and investment to be accurate in your goal setting because the numbers make a difference. Arm yourself with data to justify your decisions.
7. Apply Your Forecast Category
Obtaining an accurate, data-driven market forecast, is only the first stage in creating a business strategy for 2021. Once you finish your forecast, it’s time to apply your forecast category.
8. Adapt to the New Year
Once the year begins, be highly adaptable and innovative. Strong planning will get you close, then zero in on what the market will bear for you after you learn more.
Lessons throughout 2020 have been different for each organization — depending on how they approached novel events.
Planning for an uncertain 2021 means remaining attentive to market conditions, rethinking how products and services will lead to outcomes that benefit clients, and making calculated investments based on real data that will move them forward into 2021 while still attending to the bottom line.