Developing a plan for the New Year

December 21, 2015 By    
Photo: ©istock.com/Ivan Bliznetsov

Photo: ©istock.com/Ivan Bliznetsov

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 beyond your past sales performance.

It is easy to fall into the rut of looking at 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 Then you scramble throughout the year to force sales by using the same out-of-date sales plan, or worse, no plan at all. Struggling to meet low sales expectations retards the growth of your propane business.

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

New propane user targets vary by marketing territory and marketer preference. Finding new propane users could mean targeting builders and related trades, school districts, landscapers, golf courses or craft beer brewers. It’s time to look at where new-user prospects are in your marketing territory.

Acquiring new propane business will also include increasing your propane market by acquiring customers from your competitors. While this doesn’t increase your overall propane usage, it may happen to some degree because customers have the right to choose a propane supplier, unlike the oligopoly natural gas utilities own.

Depending on your situation, you will want to target how much of your new propane business comes from new users versus business from competition. Too many marketers spend too much time chasing competitors’ customers. If your company is that good, a certain percentage of your competitors’ customers will migrate to you without expensive advertising and promotion on your part.

Growing your business with existing customers should be part of your strategy for growth. It has the added benefit of being great for customer retention. The average consumer wants to spend less on overall energy use without sacrificing high performance. If energy savings and high performance are also better for the environment, consumers like it even more.

Propane allows your customers to have all of those things, but you need to share this information with your customers. Propane water heaters – tankless and storage tank models – are great examples of propane products your customers need to know more about. Target your current customers in your sales plan. If you don’t sell, install and service propane equipment for homes and businesses already, start in 2016.

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 yet aggressive sales-call quotas and goals for each target category, and establish tactics necessary to carry out the plan. Your tactics should include ways to increase awareness of your products, services and solutions. Create meaningful sales data reports to track sales progress related to goals, and review them frequently with your sales team.

Do you have a strong sales management and sales team in place to accomplish your sales plan? Is your sales process designed to turn prospects to leads and sales? If the answer is no to both of these questions, go outside your company for sales-consulting assistance to make sure you have the right sales process, plan and people to carry it out. Marketer technology and sales training is available through the Propane Education & Research Council and most state and regional associations.

Your company’s new business acquisition and potential for growth depend on you to implement a sales plan better suited to your target market. Your sales plan can bring higher sales expectations and growth to your company.

 

Tom Jaenicke is vice president of propane marketing services for Warm Thoughts Communications, a company providing marketing solutions for the energy services industry. He can be reached at tjaenicke@warmthoughts.com or call him at 810-252-7855.

Allison Barwacz

About the Author:

Allison Barwacz is the digital media content producer for LP Gas magazine. Contact her at abarwacz@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3796.

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