November 17, 2022 | Written by Jennifer Thompson

How to Create An Annual Plan For Your Business

At Roadmap, we start our annual planning for the coming year in November. Our annual plan is actually broken down into several, interconnected plans that are created in this order. These plans start high-level and all build off each other, allowing us to have an overarching, cohesive strategy to meet our goals.

All business planning has to start with the customer in mind. You need to know who your ideal customer is, where to find them and what to say to them. From there, we make plans on how to best serve our customers, while growing our revenue and meeting company goals.

Here are the five main steps to create annual business plans for your organization.

  • Step 1: Customer Council to gain deeper customer understanding
  • Step 2: Leadership revisits your Three-Year Strategy
  • Step 3: Annual Sales Plan to set initiatives to hit revenue goals
  • Step 4: Annual Marketing Plan to build awareness and demand for your sales team to convert
  • Step 5: Annual Operations Plan to bring it all together with quarterly goals and initiatives

Let's look at these steps a little more in depth.

Step 1 - Host a Customer Council

The first step is collecting feedback and insights from your current customers. They are who you are selling to and are a top resource to inform your business decisions. A customer council should be made up of your top customers, and meet once or twice a year to allow you to gain deep customer insights. Its purpose is to collect open and honest feedback on your products or services, marketing channels, and processes. Once you host a customer council, you can take insights from the council and use them to prioritize initiatives in your organization to meet your customers’ needs. This might be adding a new product or service, changing up your marketing tactics, or streamlining processes. All the feedback and insights you learn from your council will help inform your strategies and shape the next steps. To learn more about hosting a council, read this blog post.

Step 2 - Revisit the Three-Year Strategy

Your business or organization should have a strategic plan that you revisit and update annually. Your business goals may change over time, depending on how your company grows, how markets change, etc. This strategic plan lays out the high level goals for your organization. It first looks at the current state of the company and should include sections on your company's core values, a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) and past achievements. It also looks at what you want the future state of your company to be: overall objectives and priorities, financial projections and future goals. These overall goals can then be broken down into supporting sales and marketing plans, with specific goals related to each.

Step 3 - Annual Sales Plan

An annual sales plan is a set of strategies designed to help sales teams reach their sales quotas and help the company reach its overall sales or revenue goals. It lays out your sales objectives and should describe how you'll make those happen and the tactics you will use. It also needs to include a sales forecast, that shows the targets you’re trying to reach. The goals of an effective sales plan should be to: communicate your company’s goals and objectives, provide strategic direction to reach those goals, outline roles and responsibilities, and create a way to monitor your sales team’s progress. To make an effective plan you should: gather historical sales data and search for trends, define your objectives and determine metrics for success, complete your forecasting, identify challenges and outline action items.

Step 4 - Annual Marketing Plan

Your marketing plan needs to come after the sales plan, as it will be supporting those sales goals. This document will outline your marketing efforts for the year, and is your marketing roadmap, with goals, budget, marketing tactics and more. Your marketing plan must be guided by your overall marketing strategy. This strategy will define who your business is (or who you want it to be), your unique value proposition, and your messaging – and the marketing plan is the blueprint on how to execute that strategy. It is the link between the strategy and the final results. There are 5 main areas needed in an annual marketing plan: marketing goals, customer profiles and customer journeys, marketing budget, tactics and a content strategy. A content strategy is a key way a B2B organization can get across their unique point of view to their potential customers. It involves these three steps:

  1. Developing a top down narrative (or better put, determining what your business’ unique POV is) that creates change in the strategic decision-makers of your ideal client profile.
  2. Align your content to your customer personas and the problems they’re trying to be solved, thus creating an “aha” moment about your product or service.
  3. Develop content that trains the market how to implement your unique POV and measure success.

For more detailed information on creating a marketing plan and how to use one, check out this blog post.

Step 5 - Annual Operations Plan

An annual operations plan ties together your sales and marketing strategies, and sets goals and initiatives for the year (typically broken down by quarters) that will enable you to reach your sales and marketing KPIs. Once you have your goals, you can determine exactly what you need to do to reach those goals, who is going to do it and any timelines for completing those initiatives. It’s important to set up a quarterly dashboard that lists the goals for that quarter, in a place that all team members can view it. Then, your annual operations plan becomes a living document that you review quarterly to see how your results are measuring up and if you need to make any adjustments. It clearly outlines what team members are responsible for and creates accountability.

Let Your Plans Evolve

A key thing to remember is that plans should not be static. They may need to change and evolve. We believe that setting goals and working backwards as an organization to execute and reach those goals hones organizational ability for everyone.

Plans on the shelf get dusty, but plans living in a quarterly dashboard that are measured and learned from regularly create alignment and drive behaviours.

If you're looking for support to establish any of these plans or help executing on tactics to meet your goals, our team can help. Our services include coaching, creating sales and marketing plans, demand generation tactics, lead generation campaigns and CRM implementation to tie it all together. Contact us for a discovery call today. 

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