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In the fourth and final part of our Boom or Bust series, we are focusing on assessing your sales metrics and customer base to measure performance. The tactics we’ve outlined below are designed to help you mitigate risk, grow your business and diversify your customer base.

In the second part of our 4-part series, we are focusing on how to prepare for and withstand a downturn in your business. The strategies below are designed to help you withstand business, industry or economic changes while increasing safety. Our recommendations are focused on proactive measures you can take to prepare your business for the future.

Key performance indicators provide insight into the financial health of your business. Before you can track key performance indicators, however, you need to have accurate financial reporting.

There are three key areas where key performance indicators (KPIs) come into play: sales, operations, and safety.

We’ll review two KPIs in each area that will help you manage your business more efficiently and effectively.

Create a Growth Plan

True sales planning is one of the most important things that a business can do each year. It forces business leaders to think through – in significant detail – what is necessary to accomplish their business goals.

Sales planning  is more than a tactical plan set from on high: “Your quota is $1MM, now go sell!”

Instead, it’s about planning to sell profitably.

Selling profitably is something that is not as straightforward as it seems. We see examples all the time, in companies big and small, that believe they are selling profitably and selling well–but simply are not.

There are examples of strategic decisions to sell certain products or services at lower margins or even at a loss. These may include gaining traction in a new market, gaining a marquee client in a new industry, or an initial sale with high likelihood of highly profitable add-on services.

But these examples should be few and far between and only done based on a specific plan, not because you didn’t realize it was an unprofitable sale.

Financial Risk Assessment

The single most important element in the forecasting process is the Sales Forecast.  Generally, Sales drives everything else; it is what determines the expense spending plan.  If the company is a manufacturing company, the sales forecast will drive the production plan.

There are several different ways to approach Sales Forecasting.  Typically it starts with the Sales Department figuring out how much product they can sell in the following year.  Sales people are naturally optimistic by nature, usually overestimating achievable sales.  There are several factors that can impact the forecast: