What Is Your Sales Plan for the New Year? - Warm Thoughts Communications
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What Is Your Sales Plan for the New Year?

Posted on December 14, 2015

December, 2015 Marketing Column

Planning ahead will raise your sales expectations

It is not too late to develop a fresh sales strategy for next year that incorporates the best sales targets and tactics that will take you far beyond your past sales performance. It is easy to fall into the rut of looking at your last year’s sales performance by target category, adding a small percentage of increase, and calling it a good plan for another year. Then you scramble throughout the year to force sales by using the same out of date sales plan, or worse yet, no plan at all. Struggling to meet low sales expectations retards the growth of your business.

Your sales plan for acquiring new business should be short and simple. Part of the strategy is a review of your existing business and opportunities in the marketplace. The planning should set a strategy and tactics to acquire new propane business and grow your business with existing customers.

New propane user targets can vary by marketing territory and by marketer preference. Finding new users of propane could mean targeting builders and related trades, school districts, landscapers, golf courses, craft beer brewers, and the list goes on. It is time to look at where new user prospects are in your marketing territory and decide which ones you want to target.

Acquiring new propane business will also include increasing your propane market share by acquiring propane customers from your competitors. While this doesn’t increase overall propane usage, it happens to some degree because customers have the right to choose a propane supplier, unlike the oligopoly the natural gas utilities have. Depending on your individual situation, you will probably want to target how much of your new propane business comes from new users versus business from competitors. Too many propane marketers spend too much time chasing competitors’ customers rather than finding new users that will grow the overall market. If your company is that good, a certain percentage of the competitor’s customers will migrate to you without expensive advertising and promotion on your part.

Growing your business with existing customers should be a part of your strategy for profitable growth of your company and has the added benefit of being great for customer retention. The average consumer today wants to spend less on overall energy use without sacrificing high performance. If that energy savings and high performance is also better for the environment, consumers will like it even more. Propane enables your customers to do all of those things, but your customers need to hear it from you. Propane water heaters, both tankless and storage tank models, are perfect examples of propane products about which your customers need to hear more. Who is going to tell them if you don’t? Target your current propane customers in your sales plan. If you don’t sell, install, and service propane equipment for homes and businesses, this should be the year you start, or promote those added burner tips, even if you have to depend on trade allies to sell and install them for you.

Review your list of sales targets for new propane business and the targeted ways to grow your business with existing customers. Set a strategy for how you want to reach out to those targets. Set realistic but aggressive sales call quotas and sales goals for each target category and establish the tactics necessary to carry out the plan. Your tactics should include ways to increase awareness of your products, services, and solutions in your community, the overall marketplace, and with your customer base. Create meaningful sales data reports to track sales progress related to sales goals and review them frequently with your sales team.

Do you have the sales management and trained sales team in place to carry out your sales plan? Is your sales process designed to turn prospects into leads into sales? If not, you may need to go outside of your company for strategic sales consulting assistance to make sure you have the right sales process, sales plan, and the right people in place to carry it out. Marketer Technology & Sales Training (MTST), available through the Propane Education & Research Council and most State or Regional Propane Gas Associations, is another resource you should check out.

Your company’s new business acquisition and existing business growth depend on you to implement a sales plan best suited to your target market. Your sales plan will bring higher sales expectations and give you a path to achieve them.

Tom Jaenicke is Vice-President of Propane Marketing Services for Warm Thoughts Communications, a company providing Breakthrough Marketing Solutions for the energy services industry. He can be reached at tjaenicke@warmthoughts.com or call him at 810 252-7855.

Tom Jaenicke
You can reach Tom Jaenicke online or call our office at 201-330-9276

300 Broadacres Dr. Suite 205
Bloomfield, NJ 07003

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