Whether or not you have a full sales and/or marketing team, it is crucial to begin forecasting for 2019 in these areas. This will make your life so much easier as the months roll by next year. Not only will it keep you on track but it will keep your employees accountable as well. Also, you can begin to work ahead when you get a little more time available to you and your team.

Let’s start with sales forecasting. In order to create an accurate sales forecast, you will need a few baseline standards to look at. The first things to look at are individual and team quotas. You should already have an idea of what quotas work for your sales team and what makes the most sense for your business. Feel free to adjust these numbers if needed. Perhaps some internal or external factors impacted last year’s quotas. If those factors still exist, you may want to adjust quota to ensure you’re not working against yourself.

Next is taking a look at your sales process. Do you have a structured system in place? If not, this alone could be affecting the above quotas. Your sales team needs a defined process using the same steps in order to predict the likelihood of getting a close. This also holds your team accountable and keeps them from deviating from the process. Defining this process also includes the use of CRM, or customer relationship management software. This software can show in real time your entire sales pipeline for the team to see. It allows for organization and perhaps even a little more motivation if sales can physically see where they stand.

Once all of these items are in place, you can begin forecasting your sales for 2019. There are several styles of sales forecasting, so it may vary business to business. However, each one looks towards company growth and an increase in closes. Find out what makes the most sense for your business and your sales force and go forth with realistic and slightly challenging expectations. It never hurts to push your team and your business for greatness.

When it comes to marketing planning for 2019, the best way to start is to take a look at the past year of marketing efforts and campaigns. Pay attention to what campaigns worked better than others, also look at any white papers, resources, events and anything else that may have affected the outcome of the campaign. Based on that info alone, you can create a loose outline surrounding the positive outcomes from the last year.

Once you have a loose outline repeating some of the successful campaigns from last year, you can begin to plug in any campaign ideas you feel will work for your business. One large part to this, however, is ensuring future content is relevant to current topics and industry trends. Often, something like this cannot be accurately predicted, but as long as you have a solid outline you can always swap things around.  Also, ask your clients what issues they have read about or that is pressing their industry. All of these things can help you create original and valuable content and forecast well into 2019.

Keep in mind that your planning does not have to be perfect, and don’t be afraid to leave a little wiggle room for that slow month or unexpected event. The key here is that you have some kind of outline to ensure accountability and a genuine interest in your business’s future. If something occurs in your industry that is currently affecting people don’t be afraid to switch up your plan a bit. If you are too rigid, it will defeat the purpose and the quality of your sales and content will take a hit. Go with the flow and use your marketing plan and sales forecast as a sail on your ship in the right direction.