When it comes to building annual plans, how disciplined are you?
Lots of annual plans are built by the executive team, especially finance.
Where’s your voice? More importantly, who’s talking to the customer about how to grow their business? That’s their goal, too.
Mutually strategies don’t just happen. They need a plan, good communication and, ultimately, agreement.
Use this approach to build an annual customer growth plan
1. Sales Review
Start your plan by calling out a specific customer. Not a channel or your “other” group. Make it personal.
What’s been their sales history? Break it out by quarter. Forecast the coming year and compare it to the one just completed. What’s the percent change? Do this for every pertinent product category
2. Product Review
Now it’s time to dig into what your customer’s product mix was. What was their top sku’s? Is this mix expected to change based on trends in the category?
3. Promotional Program Review
Enter planned promotions in this section. Be sure to include an implementation plan and indicate who will pay, and how much.
4. Promotional Calendar
Enter your promotion and other customer events in the calendar. Mark the months where the activity will be occurring.
5. Issues to Resolve
This is the section to outline the roadblocks to your success. Maybe it’s the elephant in the room, but if you and your customer don’t address these issue jointly, the relationship can fray and the growth you plan for won’t materialize.
6. Customer Committed Actions
Just as you’ll commit to taking certain actions, the customer needs to have skin in the game. There’s a good chance they will willingly work to grow your product line but committing to specific actions in writing will give you something to measure against all year long as you update the customer on their progress against your joint business plan. These steps could include price increases, commitment to take new products, joint calls, training and other activities that will increase their product knowledge, sales and profitability.
7. YOUR Committed Actions
Enter YOUR company’s committed actions such as: Joint calls, customer call frequency, promotional support, customer events, availability, and product, training). This is critical because in order to grow your customer’s business, you have to be willing to make an investment in that growth. This commitment will reinforce the customer’s desire to do business with you and increase their confidence that they can achieve the growth you’re suggesting is possible.
Committing strategies to paper is different than having them in your head
Writing down a strategy forces you to think. Developing a business plan with your customer builds your relationship, deeps their commitment to growing the business and helps you jointly work through issues that could stand in the way of success.