Uhhh… no and yes!
As we all know, we’re experiencing an unusual time right now… everything in life – and in business – is changing very rapidly. And the speed of all of those changes is fundamentally impacting the way we conduct business.
One of the many questions these changes are forcing us to answer is, “Do we still need a marketing & sales plan?” Many of us spent so much time at the end of last year planning for how to tackle growth this year… is what we did then still relevant?
[ANSWER 1] Likely, no. Your strategy, tactics, budget and calendar were based on what you knew in 2019 and what you were expecting in 2020. Well, that’s out the window now. And your existing plan should be, too.
So, moving forward – with all of this uncertainty – do you even need a marketing & sales plan?
[ANSWER 2] Yes, but you’ll need to approach it much differently than in the past:
- First, forget about planning for a year. Instead, look at the rest of 2020 by quarter. Or maybe even in rolling 2-month time periods. The speed of changes around us is forcing us to look at much shorter windows of time now.
- Reconsider who you sell to. Not just who among your current clients & prospects is thriving and who is barely surviving, but are there new markets, new industries or new types of companies you should be selling to?
- And take another look at what you’re selling. With all the changes happening in business, do your clients have new challenges or problems that require you to deliver new services? And if you’re changing who you sell to (see above), do these new clients have need of different products or services than you’re selling now?
- Think creatively! Even if your business is off, you can’t stop your business development efforts… though you probably have less dollars to spend. You still need to build awareness in the markets you serve, generate & nurture sales leads and so on. You’ll just need to be a little more clever about how you do that.
- Simplify. Because you’ll be working with shorter windows of time, you’ll be updating your marketing & sales plan every 2-3 months. Because of that:
- Limit the number of different marketing & sales tactics you employ. Focus on just a few and do them really, really well.
- Keep a simple, visual calendar – in a place you see every day – so that nothing you need to do falls through the cracks. Now is not the time to forget anything!
- Measure a few critical KPIs. Implementing a limited number of activities mean that they all have to work… so measure them weekly to ensure they’re effective. And adjust if they’re not.
- Talk about it. When you and your team get together for your weekly staff meeting (online, of course), make sure marketing & sales are key topics of the discussion. In these difficult times, the more your team is involved, the better.
So, do you need a marketing & sales plan? Yes, but like everything else these days, the way you create and use it has to be different.
Remember the old phrase, “Businesses don’t plan to fail… they fail to plan.” And with everything going on right now, planning smartly is more important than ever.