Why your 2020 business planning has been a waste of time…so far

It’s the end of January and, chances are, you’ve spent some of the last few weeks planning how to grow and sustain your business in the year ahead. That’s great news but, sadly, it’s probably been a waste of time. Here’s why.

To grow a business, you need just two things; turnover and profit. That means getting money coming into your business more quickly, and in larger amounts, than it’s going out. Doing that is simple too, you have just four options:

  • Reduce costs
  • Create more with the same resources
  • Sell more
  • Sell at better margins

If you’re a small to medium business I’m sure you have costs under tight control and are on top of output efficiencies. But how much time do you spend thinking about, let alone planning, to sell more at better margins?

I can hear you yelling “we’ve done loads of sales planning!” but have you really?

My bet is you’ve done loads of planning about things like your brand identity, your market and customers, your customer journey, your website, your market offerings and your social media presence. Which is great, but it’s not sales planning, it’s marketing planning.

What you’ve done is vitally important, it’s just not enough. What you’ve done will create awareness and will bring people to you with an interest in what you do. But that’s all. In B2B nobody says, “These people have a great website, let’s buy from them”.  What they say is “These people have a great website, let’s talk to them.”

They still must be sold to. Good marketing creates good enquiries – it brings the people you want to do business with to you, and in the right frame of mind, but there’s still work to be done.

You must convert that enquiry into an order. And that means you must demonstrate you truly understand the prospect’s needs and desired outcomes; it means you have asked insightful questions to create genuine disruption; it means you’ve demonstrated how your solution delivers value that far outweighs its cost; and it means you’ve shown how you can do all these things better than your competitors.

Have you planned to do all that?

And even then, if the customer is bigger than you, and let’s face it, we usually want them to be, then they’re going to try to beat you up on price. So, have you planned how to defend your proposal, trade rather than concede concessions and arrive at a win/win agreement that leaves both sides happy – and most importantly, happy to do more business together in the future?

My guess is you haven’t done that either.

So, you’re almost there. Don’t throw away all your hard work by missing out the final, vital piece of the jigsaw. Go the last mile and plan how to sell and negotiate effectively.

Happy 2020.