As a new year approaches, some business owners and their teams will come together to forecast, strategize and map out their company’s plan for growth. Done properly, this planning can be highly effective in setting the course toward increased sales and stronger returns. However, planning meetings conducted incorrectly will assuredly result in mediocre performance at best. Follow these proven steps to ensure you and your team prioritize sales and marketing efforts for optimal business growth.

First and foremost, it’s critical that proper attention is given to the past in order to forecast for the future. “Pull the data” from prior months and years and take the time to analyze the numbers. What months are slower and what months typically perform higher? And get clear on the “why” for these trends. Having a clear, data-driven picture of the past will put you and your team in the position to make decisions for the future.

Now that you know your trends, you’re armed with the ability to set realistic sales goals. Successful companies set targets and focus their daily efforts on hitting their marks. They set goals that are attainable, while at the same time stretch the organizations abilities.

Have a budget. It will take people and money to accomplish your company’s goals for the year – make sure to allocate enough funds for the growth you’re expecting to achieve. The size of your marketing budget will depend on how much you have available to invest, and how quickly you want to see results.

Map your route. Successful companies understand the critical importance of a mapping a course to their destination. Ensure your team understands the role they will play in the overall company objectives. Review your sales and marketing plan monthly or quarterly. Include a marketing calendar along with detailed mileposts that ensures everyone stays on the same route. Taking the time up front to develop an effective execution plan for tackling opportunities will stack the odds in your favor and pave the way to the successful accomplishment of your goals.

Make it measurable. Every single part of the plan needs to be able to be measured against the return on investment (ROI). If it’s not measurable, it shouldn’t be part of the plan, Peter Drucker said; “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”

Identify Customer Personas. Get crystal clear on identifying your ideal customer profile and persona and focus all of your marketing efforts there. Successful hunters don’t fire into a flock. Rather, they train their sights and laser focus on a single target at a time. The key is preparation. Focus on leads that are going to bring your company the most potential business in the long run. Foster relationships that will bring maximum repeat sales.

Execute the plan. Meet regularly with your team to measure results and tweak the process. Performance must be reported and progress needs to be tracked in order to know where the company is on the map and how fast it’s moving toward its goals. Quarterly, monthly or weekly meetings will bring the team together and ensure that everyone is on the same path to success.

Prioritizing your sales and marketing efforts can take some discipline, so be sure to involve members of your team who can help keep you accountable. Commit to following your plan for the new year and celebrate the successes you see along the way.