You cannot Drive Looking only in the Rear View Mirror


1As the year kicks off those annual sales targets seem a long way off with plenty of time to get there. “January is always a bit sluggish and we will catch up” I hear you say! “Look at last year, we made it in the end with a rush in the last quarter”

That was last year and maybe this year will be tougher! Hopefully budgets have been cast and targets set. You may even have in place, to use jargon KPI’s and the ability to capture the information accurately. However, these data are often reported after the event.

After all hopefully most of us do not drive our cars by looking only in the rear view mirror. We watch the road ahead, assess what is in front, (as well as behind) process the information and take action now in anticipation of what is about to happen. Many of us do this subconsciously, but we still do it and failing to do so could result in a crash.

What might this tell us about how we approach our business’ targets:

Planning the Journey: The annual sales target has been set. The destination is known so we normally map out a route in stages. Break down the target into realistic ‘chunks’ by month or quarter. Knowing the average sales order value tells you how many are needed to meet the target in each period. Furthermore, knowing the conversion rates from enquiries, sets the target for marketing activity. All common sense I hear you say, but experience advocates it is not as common as its name suggests.

Checking the Fuel in the Tank: No point in heading off if there is not enough fuel in the tank to get to the first stop. Can the sales be delivered by the resources you have. Can the levels of sales you need be fulfilled from the stock, manufacturing or service resources. Nothing worse than an angry customer those to whom you make unfulfilled promises. They rarely come back for more and go to your competitors.

Setting off on the Journey: If you do not hit the accelerator you are going nowhere. Take action now, that is today and not reaction in the future that is tomorrow. Sales will not come knocking at the door unless you are really lucky or have set your target too low maybe. But there are choices and priorities to be considered to get you to your destination. Do this wisely to maximise your efficiency.

Checking the Rear View Mirror before taking the Fast Lane: Ignoring what goes on behind can be foolhardy. Who are the loyal customers, what are their needs and how can you fulfil these to your advantage. It is well known that selling more to existing customers is less costly in time and money than finding new ones. But do not fall into the trap of depending only on existing customers.

Comfort Breaks: Refuelling is necessary and we all need comfort breaks. Take them regularly to keep you refreshed, but use them wisely. Take time to review the journey so far, what has worked, but most importantly what action needs to be taken going forward and how urgently. If you are running behind your targets you need to make changes – the route the pace – new customers, products, commercial proposition or pitch. If you are ahead of your targets – beware – this is not a sign to take the foot off the accelerator – there may be roadworks ahead!

Diversions: Frustrating as they are there are nearly always roadworks or obstructions that block our way. Don’t sit in the queue- look for a diversion. Diversions to new ground can open up new vistas and opportunities. They may not have been planned, but if they create new sales – we will take them thank you very much.

Journey’s End: Time will eventually run out and hopefully you have reached your destination! You may have fallen short or arrived early and gone part way on to the next! Whatever the situation painful or joyful a really honest assessment of the journey is required. It is sometimes the journey rather than the destination that is the most revealing. What have you learned for next time – would you choose the same route, was it the right destination – what to do more of and what to do different.

Finally, whatever you do try and enjoy your 2015 journey.


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