Hero image of Brian McCauley, ProSales columnist

There are three constants about sales budgets: Each of you has one, somebody usually sets them for you, and they always go up. You’ll be assigned an annual sales figure that is usually 3%–10% higher than last year’s sales number, it’s been broken down by month, and you’re off and running in the new year.

But, where will this growth come from? You can either find more customers, or make more sales to existing customers. I like to focus on things I can affect with my efforts, so finding new customers is definitely within my influence. I can also influence existing customers by selling them new products, but the degree of that influence can be different. If the new products I could sell them are products they already use, then my influence is important. If any new products I may sell them are also new categories for them, then I must rely on their willingness to expand their product offering. For this reason, I believe you are better off finding new customers, and gaining a deeper penetration with existing customers with products they are already using. A goal without a plan is just a wish. If you have to raise your sales by 3%–10%, and you don’t have a plan to achieve that, then you’re hoping to meet the goal, and hope is not a strategy. So start planning now.

Three years ago, I decided to lose some weight. I got on the scale and had 222 pounds staring back at me. I’m hopefully 10 years from retirement and I surely did not want to carry that kind of weight into my golden years. So, I devised a plan to lose some weight and committed to executing it. My goal was to get down to 190 pounds, so my plan was to limit my daily intake to 2,000 calories and increase the amount of cardio in my workouts. At first, I was hoping to lose weight, but what I discovered after three to four weeks was that hope had nothing to do with it. If I stuck to my plan, I was losing 1 to 3 pounds per week. After 16 weeks, I reached 190 pounds and kept going; after 40 weeks, I reached 180 pounds and kept going.

You see, my reality expanded: What seemed impossible was now possible. My target weight range is now 170 to 175 pounds and I’ve been in that target range for 91 weeks and counting. That is transformative change and it came about because of a goal, a plan, and the commitment necessary to execute that plan.

So what are you going to do in 2020? You have a goal in front of you. What’s your plan, and are you committed to executing it? How many new customers do you need to land, and when? How many prospects do you need to call on every week? What are you going to do to find new work or projects? When are you going to do it?

An increased sales budget can be challenging, but if you meet or exceed it, your income will go up. That’s why I’ve always been attracted to the sales profession—if you want a raise, sell more products. Successful people do things that unsuccessful people are not willing to do. The goal has been set. Now develop a plan to achieve the goal, commit yourself to executing the plan, and expand your reality.