Market Surveys are a good source of information. You should also gather some data on the kind of customers you wish to serve and the potential sales for your type of product or service.

If you included this information with your market survey it should reveal the extent to which customers would be prepared to use the services you propose to offer. You must realise however that much of this may not materialise. Competitor analysis is important as their activity in your proposed area may have either increased or possibly decreased.

In the light of your decisions about your market niche and price positioning you should now be in a position to estimate likely sales. You now must also make judgement on the volume and timescale.

If selling nationwide you will need to assess how effective your advertising and marketing campaign will be and what response it will produce. Again you must estimate the level of sales you will be able to reach and how fast these will build up.

If you business is concerned in getting contracts then many of the methods mentioned previously will be of limited application.

What you need to know is how many of such contracts are awarded and on what basis. You will need to know the lead time for contracts to be placed how large they will be and then forthwith what other future contract opportunities are available. Once this information is to hand you will be able you build up a sales projection chart.

Once you have worked out what is feasible in terms of sales it needs to be written into your plan not just as a forecast but as a target for your business to achieve. If your salespeople have been included in drawing up the projections they are more likely to achieve them. How many companies I have come across who have formulated a sales plan without actually discussing with those at the coal front doing the selling!!!!

Break down your targets by customer profile, by product line or service type, by geographical area, month by month, so you can see just what and where you expect the sales to be achieved.

Set you forecasts month by month for the first year and quarter by quarter for the next two years.

Many people plan off a simple excel spreadsheet, however after working in sales for many years Legwork is in the process of introducing a web based programme to help businesses like yours, to plan more efficiently and effectively.

Next Article – Business Planning –Forecasting Revenue 

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