What’s more important than growing sales in your brewery? Not much. So how do you put your company in the best position to increase sales? Create a kick-ass sales plan, of course. The sales plan is the road map to grow revenue in your beer business. This road map lays out the objectives needed to reach your sales goals. It is a tool that your employees can and should use every day to grow sales. Below are the keys to creating a kick-ass sales plan in your beer business.
Get the right people involved
The sales manager, inventory manager and financial person should create the sales plan. They should be in the same room, at the same time, looking at the same information. This is a great opportunity to understand how each person and each department impacts the others. Inventory management works best with input from sales. Finance works best with input from all departments and can help guide the sales plan process with fancy spreadsheets and historical information. Get these people involved. Each brings different skills to the table, and combined they are like the Super Friends. The Super Friends of your super sales plan.
Get the right information to create the best plan
I’m a big fan of using historical sales information as a starting point to create this new kick-ass sales plan. Historical sales are what happened last month, last quarter and last year. Take the historical sales and adjust for changes that are coming in the new year. New suppliers, breweries and brands impact the plan. New initiatives, new employees or new focus will change the plan. Get all this information on paper and baked into your forecast. Use a template sales tool to fill in the numbers and details. Start simple and get more complicated if it adds value to the process and end result.
This Kick-Ass Sales Template here can be a starting point. Read through the notes and instructions and plug in your own numbers.
Insist on 100 percent effort and participation
The biggest issue I’ve faced is getting the key people in the same room at the same time. The sales guy always has to deliver a keg or a tap handle somewhere. The inventory manager always has an order to place, and the finance person is busy crunching numbers. To create a kick-ass sales plan you need 100 percent focus, effort and participation from your sales, inventory and finance team. It’s a simple rule, but simply doesn’t happen often. The magic of the plan creation is getting these department heads together, communicating and creating a sales plan that will work. And will kick-ass. Insist on 100 percent focus on the sales plan.
Educate your team on the purpose of the sales plan
Sales plans and budgets have a bad reputation. They can be time-consuming, confusing and pointless if done wrong. Worst of all, the plan ends up buried in a desk drawer somewhere. To create a kick-ass sales plan you’ll need to educate your team on the purpose of the sales plan. The purpose, of course, is to grow sales and show the team how they can make a difference in achieving this important goal.
Preach to your team: The sales plan is your game plan to grow. It is a road map for your whole organization — sales, operations, admin, everyone. The sales plan is a tool that will be useful every day. It will provide clarity for all members of your organization. The sales plan includes what is most important to your beer business — where you will grow (which retail accounts or distributors), how much you’ll grow (percentage wise) and who will help get you there. Once your team understands this information they’ll understand the purpose of the sales plan and why it’s so important to create a great one.
Create a sales forecast now and update regularly
There’s no time like the present to create a kick-ass sales plan. You don’t need to wait until the end of the year or end of the quarter — do it now. In a perfect world, the sales plan is created towards the end of the year and rolled out for the beginning of the new year. This way the sales team knows their goals and can hit the ground running.
Unfortunately, no one lives in a perfect world. Things happen and the plan doesn’t get done on time. Or the plan does get done, but then the market changes. That 5 percent growth you projected is looking more like 1 percent. Now what? The sales plan should be changed when circumstances change. The plan should be flexible. It should be a living document and change with the times. Create the sales plan in December for the new year but adjust the plan in March of the new year if the plan isn’t working. The Kick-Ass Sales Plan template can help you with this.
Tell the world of your plan
If you want to hit your sales plan goals, you need to share it with those who can make a difference. Share the plan with your team. Educate them on how the plan will be achieved. Show them how they fit in and how they can contribute. People want to make a difference in the world and in your beer business. Give them the direction, vision and leadership and prepare to be amazed.
Wrap up + action items
Download the Kick-Ass Sales Plan template. Read the notes, input your numbers and make it your own. Follow the steps above to create your sales plan. Answer the key questions: Who should be involved, what information will be needed, why is this important and when will the plan be completed? Gather your numbers and rally your team. A kick-ass sales plan is well within your reach. Now, go kick ass.
Kary Shumway is the founder of Beer Business Finance and Craft Brewery Finance, online resources for beer industry professionals. Shumway has worked in the beer industry for more than 20 years as a certified public accountant, chief financial officer for a beer distributor, and currently as CFO for Wormtown Brewery in Worcester, Mass. Craft Brewery Finance publishes a weekly beer industry finance newsletter, offers guide books on topics such as cash flow planning and basic budgeting, and an online course to improve taproom profits. The newsletter with a free four-week trial, industry guides and resources are all available at www.CraftBreweryFinance.com.