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Summer has come and gone and with it, winter and a new year are upon us. These images are the same location, just a different time. See the similarities and differences? Same horizon with a new season; just like business.

Business is seasonal, cyclical, predictable, unpredictable (yes, both) and simply put… ever changing – just like the seasons. So why is this important?

Many businesses are preparing for 2018 through a budgeting process, with much of the activity centering around expenditures. But what about sales? Do you conduct a thorough sales forecast review as well? We aren’t talking about “throwing” a number out there and assuming it will happen. No, we are talking about a sales forecast using the SMART principle:

  • Specific: Listing, by customer, what each will contribute in terms of sales and gross margin and when (monthly buckets).

  • Measurable: You must be able to quantify the activities and ultimate expectation (revenue and margins). The old saying still holds true today: If you can’t measure it, it never happened.

  • Attainable: Back to “throwing” a number out there, if you do this, what is the strategy and chances of success? If sales don’t happen as planned(“thrown”), what happens to the rest of your business?

  • Relevant: If you manufacture widgets and are focused on specific markets, it’s imperative the sales effort be aligned with these objectives. Selling gizmos to anyone is out of alignment and very costly.

  • Time-bound: The typical answer to a sales forecast is, “next year”. When next year? Establish monthly/quarterly/yearly numbers (with supporting strategies) and implement for improved cash flow.

As you prepare for a new year (and the future), it’s important that your salesforce be at the forefront. Ask them and yourself:

  1. Do you know what our horizon looks like? What opportunities and threats await you?

  2. What changes must you make? Are you planning for changes, so you are positioned to be most effective and profitable?

Back to the image. ​While we never know exactly when the weather will change, we all prepare. Your served customers and markets are the same. They too will change. Will you be prepared?

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