You want your business to grow – and of course you want it to be more profitable at the same time. Large organizations have the resources to make sophisticated market assessments, micro-analyse trends and produce major internal reports with complex plans, with beautifully designed Powerpoint decks to support the plan.
Over the years, I have been through this process any number of times, both making them and reviewing them, and I can categorize them on sight. In reality, the forecasts often turn out to be completely wrong – often because external factors have dominated events. It makes sense to do them, but not to over-engineer them. Consider including the following “Must haves” and see if you can avoid the “Try to Avoid”
- A simple view of the overall market, which should be an external reference
- From the above, some idea of your current market share
- Some sort of relative quantification of the incremental value of your new offering
- A sales outline that recognizes both the adoption curve and your resources
- A handful of key customers (Innovators) identified
- Over-prescribing the sales plan; there is no such thing as a “Must-have” deal.
- Ignoring the reality of the “third year blip”, which is a flat spot in growth, or even “dead man’s gulch”
- Pretending your Innovators will also be your Early Adopters; they rarely are!
- Getting away without sufficient marketing efforts, whether this is proof cases or support for unfamiliar users
Remember, many growth plans turnout to be more conservative than the eventual reality – or, if the overall business results are as predicted, they are often right for the wrong reasons. Customers are sometimes fickle and illogical. So, don’t invest a massive amount of time in defining your plan to every detail: think instead on the “how” to enable growth to happen.
Finally, also figure out how you would meet demand if it all explodes! If you would not be able to, then think about using pricing to manage demand.