Annual Planning to Help Your Company Win All Year
All Quarters Are Not Created Equal
We’re racing quickly toward the end of 2020. In these last few weeks, your company is likely putting a bow on the year, finishing up annual targets, and preparing for 2021.
When our consultants are helping clients with strategic annual planning, one of the most common mistakes we see has to do with breaking down yearly targets. Companies often take their annual targets, divide by 4, and map out a tidy set of quarterly goals.
The problem with this approach is that all quarters are not created equal. And the “divide by 4” approach often leaves teams scrambling to hit their goals in Q4, just when they (and everyone else) want to focus on winding down, enjoying the holidays, and regrouping before next year.
Make your annual planning smarter by keeping the following considerations in mind:
Q1 & Q2: Focus on Sales to Generate Early Success
Energy levels, productivity patterns, and general seasonality dictate that your team is likely to accomplish the most at the top of each year.
In Q1, get your company off to a quick start by setting aggressive sales goals. Boosting sales in Q1 sets your business on a positive course for the entire year, and early success will motivate your entire company to keep winning.
Boosting sales in Q1 sets your business on a positive course for the entire year.
Q1 sales are especially important if you’re a recurring revenue business. A sale in January is 12x more valuable than a sale in December. The more you sell in Q1, the more it pays off throughout the year.
In Q2, capitalize on your early momentum and continue to emphasize selling. If your first quarter was successful, you’ll naturally be increasing client delivery during this time. You want your customers to stay happy, so keep a close eye on quality (your Integrator usually manages this function).
Q3 & Q4: Expect Sales to Slow; Focus on Strategic Planning
The sales rhythm inevitably gets choppier in the back half of the year. During summer vacation season, it’s harder to follow up with prospects, and your team may be intermittently under-staffed as employees take time off.
There’s usually a burst of productivity from Labor Day until mid-November, and deals that slowed down in the summer months may finally come through. But from Thanksgiving on, everyone is in holiday mode. If you’re trying to make up a sales deficit in early December, you’re pushing a boulder up a mountain. Instead, frontload your sales goals so you can dedicate Q4 to wrapping up and planning for next year.
Smarter Annual Planning with the SWOT Analysis
We use the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis in every EOS Annual Planning session. It’s a great tool to help you think more strategically about your business and choose the right initiatives for the next 12 months.
The SWOT methodology is simple. Start by having each team member involved generate a list of strengths for the organization. Repeat with weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Compile the individual lists, and pull out issues from those lists to tackle together.
Support for Your Company’s Annual Planning
As you finish your annual planning for 2021, look back at 2020 (and previous years, especially if the pandemic knocked your company off course). If you spent Q3 and Q4 playing catch-up to meet your annual goals, there’s room for improvement. Q1 and Q2 are the optimal time for your company to focus on acquiring new business and getting ahead.
If you’d like expert input and facilitation for your annual planning session, contact us and we’ll connect you to one of our consultants. Our calendar is filling quickly for December and January, so reach out ASAP to reserve your session day.