Did you have a good holiday? Got some well-deserved rest and relaxation with your family and friends? Managed to break your email and texting addiction for a few days? Well, it’s time to shake off the “Egg Nog Fog” and get back in the swing of things!
The best way to start the year off right is to gather your sales and marketing team together for a series of planning sessions to get everyone aligned and headed in the same direction. Follow these steps to learn from the past, dream big, and put together a sensible plan for achieving your goals in 2018!
How to Develop Your 2018 Sales and Marketing Strategy
1) Analyze Your 2014 Sales & Revenue Trends
Where did your sales and revenue come from in 2014? Is most of your company revenue from existing customers or new customers? How long was your average sales cycle? Who were your best (and worst) customers - why? What are your best lead sources? Are prospects getting stuck anywhere in the sales cycle? Why did you lose the opportunities you think you should have won? Could your close rate be improved? Document your lessons learned, and start thinking about improvements you’d like to make in 2018.
2) Analyze Your 2014 Marketing Trends
How much traffic did your website get? How many leads did you generate online and offline? How many leads converted into customers? Did certain blog posts perform better than others? Are you happy with the return you’re getting on your investment?
3) Define Your One-year Company Vision
Where do you picture your company by the end of 2018? Write a one-page description of what things will look like 12 months from now - be specific, and don’t be afraid to dream big! Don’t forget to include the ideal picture of what your sales and marketing would look like if you had a magic wand!
4) Set Your Company Priorities & Goals for 2018
What’s standing in the way of achieving your vision? What projects need to get done in order to achieve your vision? Make a list, and pick 3-4 things to focus on in the first quarter. How are you going to measure success? Make sure you have metrics that you can track! We like to use the Vision Traction Organizer (V/TO) from the Entrepreneurial Operating System for this step.
5) Review & Update Your Ideal Customer Profile and Personas
Look back your best customers and make sure you identify the characteristics that make them profitable and enjoyable to work with. Make sure your ideal customer profile and buyer personas are accurate and reflect the kinds of customers who will help you reach your 2018 growth goals.
6) Check Out Your Competitors
You accomplished a lot in 2014 - chances are your competitors have been busy too! Get into intelligence gathering mode and complete an analysis of your top three or four competitors. Take a look at their websites to see what may have changed, look at their company profiles on LinkedIn, and spend some time on Google looking for news and press mentions. Run their websites through the HubSpot marketing grader and see how their online presence compares to yours.
7) Confirm Your Differentiators
Make sure you are clear on what makes you different from your competitors. Talk to some of your customers and find out why they chose to buy from you - and what could make them switch teams and buy from your competitors instead.
8) Review and Organize Your Marketing Collateral
Make sure that your printed and digital marketing materials are written and designed to attract your ideal customers and communicate your company’s unique qualities to prospects and customers. Make sure copyright dates are updated, that your style guidelines are being followed, and that everyone on your sales team is using the right version!
9) Review Your Website and Online Marketing
Take a look at your website and social media channels to make sure that are designed to attract and educate your ideal customer. Is your branding and messaging consistent? Are you engaging with the right target audience? Is your content compelling and educational? TIP: HubSpot’s Marketing Grader can give you a quick snapshot of what you’re doing right, and where you could improve.
10) Review and Document Your Sales Process
Is your sales process set up to close the quality and quantity of customers you need to reach your company’s growth goals? Does everyone on your sales team follow the same process for qualifying and nurturing prospects? Is your process documented? Is your CRM (customer relationship management) system set up to support your process efficiently and effectively? Could you be using any automated tools to make your process more efficient?
11) Review Your Proposal Templates
Ask a colleague in another department (or company) to review your proposal templates to make sure everything is as clear as you think it is. Be sure everyone is using standard language where appropriate, and consider using a tool like BidSketch to streamline your process.
12) Identify Gaps in Your Sales and Marketing
Document any issues you uncover while you’re reviewing your collateral, processes, and templates. Look for “dark pools” - areas of your process where prospects or customers get lost or ignored due to lack of time/energy/resources.
13) Document Your Sales and Marketing Strategy
Prioritize the issues you have identified and develop a phased approach to tackling them over the next four quarters. Depending on the issues you have identified, you may need to develop tactical plans for content/inbound marketing, social media, lead generation, lead nurturing, or account development.
14) Track Your Progress and Evolve Your Tactics
Make sure you have metrics defined for measuring success, and have assigned individual team members to be accountable for solving each issue. Set up regular meetings to review progress, identify and solve issues, and align activities across teams. Learn from your mistakes and victories, and evolve your tactics as needed to maintain your traction!