2012 planning: what to look for

2012 planning will be affected by the nation's budget crisis and the shift in customer thinking - both of which are forcing businesses to rethink everything.

Here are four trends to watch for when planning your business budgets and improvements:

1. Sales training

Sales training is the best investment you could make in 2012. Old sales tactics shouldn't be part of the equation anymore. Bring in the new customer. Every salesperson needs a training program now - whether that is BuildASalesperson for the newest member of the team or Master Selling for the sales veterans. Invest time into training your sales team to deal with the new customer.

2. Early end for some state-specific tax credit rebates

Tax credit programs in some states are falling victim to the national budget deficits that affect tax breaks, grants, and rebates. A CNN article on the budget cuts triggering an early end to solar energy credits encourages people to make a move before it's too late. Communicate this urgency to your customers. While the solar energy market was looking great - rooftop installations skyrocketed to 67 percent in 2010 from 2009 - there may be a decline in these next few years as certain states are forced to shut down tax incentive programs.

3. Limited tax credits rebates

After 2011, only geothermal heat pumps, wind turbines, and solar energy systems will be eligible for federal tax credit rebates.

4. Focus on the Internet

You've heard that your customers are on the Internet, searching for the best service. When they land on your website, do they know exactly what your business can do for them? Is your website searchable? Do you provide value beyond a list of your services? A blog on your website is also great for search engines and customer relations.

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