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How to Project Sales
Last Updated: February 24, 2023
This article was co-authored by Ryan Conway . Ryan Conway is a Marketing Expert and the Founder of Digital Tradesman, a digital marketing agency that helps builders, contractors, and tradesmen grow their business online. With over a decade of experience, he specializes in marketing, web design, and search engine optimization. Ryan holds a BS in Business Administration and Entrepreneurial Studies from Hartford University. He also studied Graphic and Web Design at the Boston University Center for Digital Imaging Arts. Ryan participated in Seth Godin’s altMBA in the winter of 2016. This article has been viewed 89,215 times.
Whether you’re setting up a business plan to present to a bank or investors or you’re just punching a line item on your To Do list, sales projections can be a valuable management tool if done right. When you project sales and follow through by comparing actual figures to the forecast, you more accurately gauge what’s going on in your business and more quickly make course corrections as needed. Follow the steps in this article to accurately project sales for your business.
Break Your Business into Manageable Sales or Expense Units
- Consider fixed and variable expenses, from rents and fixed loans to payroll and utilities, plus capital equipment and inventory, as well as a marketing or advertising budget.
- Allow for bad debt or returns and a profit margin.
- Any business, whether product or service, will have units to measure, even if it’s time itself (such as professionals billing by the quarter hour).
- For example, most retail establishments can run in the red during summer vacation and make the bulk of their income during the holidays.
- To manage your business going forward, tie this sales price back to the income units, such as by product type or by seasonality, so you can compare future figures to past sales.
Analyze Your Market
- Compare stores of similar size, in a similar industry, in a similar locale.
- Determine market share. Which businesses do consumers patronize for your product or service? What percentage do you get compared to competitors?
- For example: you sell five item categories total. 1 category sells 5 units per day, 2 sell 3 units each, and 2 sell 1 unit each. Multiply the price of each unit by the number sold for a total current revenue figure.
Develop a Marketing Projection
- Options include selling more current products to existing customers, attracting more customers with current products and introducing new products to current or prospective customers.
- How well do these promotions match your current product and customer mix? Can you replicate the promotions? Do different promotions promote sales to different customer groups, or move different product categories?
Do the Math
- The more meticulous you have been in breaking down your business, the more accurately you can project sales.
- Ask a business associate or mentor to look over your figures.
- Look up forecasts from within the industry, often published in trade magazines.
- Peruse an annual report of a competitor or a business of similar size in your area.
- Check out sample plans your banker, Chamber of Commerce, or Small Business Administration office may make available.
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Thanks for reading our article! If you'd like to learn more about improving sales, check out our in-depth interview with Ryan Conway .
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Sales Project Management: What It Is & 5 of Its Key Benefits
Published: March 14, 2022
Sales orgs stand to gain a lot from incorporating project management principles into their operations. While sales project management is loosely defined and often overlooked, sales leadership should at least consider folding the core tenets behind it into their broader objectives and sales reps' day-to-days.
Here, we'll take a closer look at what project management can look like in the context of sales and how applying its principles to sales efforts can provide a big-time lift to sales orgs.
Project Management for Sales
Project management in sales processes.
Project management , as a concept, can have a place in the context of most sales processes. When you break a sales process down, each step — from prospecting to qualification to pitching to closing — essentially qualifies as its own stage of a greater project.
A prospect doesn't just become a customer on a dime. Getting there usually requires a carefully conducted progression, partitioned into incremental steps. For instance, prospecting and qualifying a lead can involve steps like research, discovery calls, and demo scheduling.
In theory, all of those steps can be treated as individual deliverables — compartmentalized into detailed workflows and tracked by multiple stakeholders. In turn, the overarching objectives supported by those deliverables become more straightforward, less imposing, and flat-out simpler.
Project Management Across Teams
Your average sales org is typically composed of multiple teams — potentially including sales development, business development, account management, field sales, inside sales, and a host of other subsets of a sales department.
Project management is often leveraged as a means of connecting a series of stakeholders across multiple teams. It fosters collaboration to break down silos and facilitate productive communication between various project participants — sales teams can benefit from adopting those processes.
Applying project management principles to sales processes and other key sales activities that can reduce redundancies, streamline sales operations, make sales efforts more predictable, and offer sales leadership better visibility into how their teams and broader orgs are operating.
How Project Management Helps Sales
1. it increases accountability among reps..
Increased visibility is a staple of all things project management. The software that supports these kinds of efforts generally lets project managers see where various stakeholders and personnel stand concerning their contributions to a project.
The same mentality can be applied when incorporating project management principles into sales efforts. Sales managers — operating in a project management-style capacity — have visibility into their reps' workflows and general progress.
That kind of readily available insight on each reps' performance lends itself to better discipline and more accountability. If reps know that their managers can keep a pulse on their day-to-day operations, they're less likely to slack off and let certain responsibilities fall by the wayside.
2. It lends itself to better productivity.
Project management is, at its core, a series of principles dedicated to streamlining goal attainment and increasing productivity within certain constraints — including budget, scope, and time.
Those principles and benefits can apply to your sales operations. Leveraging project management tactics and tools to support your sales org's objectives and broader goals makes your sales efforts more manageable, productive, and efficient.
3. It offers reps more clarity in terms of their responsibilities.
Tactical, measured delegation of responsibilities is a staple of any successful project management effort. Effective project management rests on an organization's ability to clearly partition and assign tasks to various stakeholders within it.
When you apply those principles to a sales org's operational objectives and overarching goals, you can give reps more clarity on what's expected of them and how they're supposed to make good on those responsibilities.
4. It gives salespeople direction through clearly defined timelines.
A lack of understanding of the "when" behind sales efforts can take a massive toll on a sales org's direction and productivity. Clearly defining timelines is a key component of project management.
When salespeople have definitive, readily visible deadlines attached to their responsibilities, they have a better understanding of leadership's expectations and a solid basis for how they can most effectively allocate their time and effort.
5. It makes for more productively collaborative sales floors.
Most successful sales floors involve some kind of collaboration. Salespeople across virtually every role or degree of seniority stand to gain a lot from freely sharing goals, insights, and other key information.
Collaboration is central to effective project management. Broader projects often involve stakeholders across multiple teams — and facilitating free-flowing communication and partnerships across those different bodies makes for more consistent goal attainment and better execution.
Encouraging collaboration between representatives from sales development, business development, account management, sales operations, and any other bodies within a sales org allows for more cohesion and delivering on both operational and strategic objectives.
Applying project management practices and principles in the context of a sales process can be a big help for any sales org struggling with organization, open communication, and other key functions that contribute to smoother day-to-day operations and broader goal attainment.
If your business is dragging due to silos within the sales department, scattershot communication, accountability, or task delegation, looking into project management principles and resources might be in your best interest.
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