Most sales teams are busy right now finishing the last month and quarter of their year, which means they’ll hit January 2nd by hitting the reset button but behind when it comes to strategically preparing for improvements in the New Year.
There’s no excuse for taking your eye off the ball before December 31st, but here are six specific focus areas to ensure 2013 not only gets off to the right start, but improves upon the results and momentum you may have built leaving the past fiscal month, quarter and year.
1. Review 2012′s lessons & implications
Do a quick post-mortem on the year. What went well? What would you have done differently? What should you have anticipated, and what do all of those lessons & observations tell you about how to prepare for and execute in the New Year? Pull your sales managers and a few key reps into a room (for lunch or beers if you don’t want to disrupt selling hours), or at minimum lock yourself in a room for a couple hours for reflection.
Do this right, and it’ll be difficult not to come up with insights and ideas you can use to put your team on a better track in January.
2. Set clear goals (but be realistic)
What does success look like? What top-line sales numbers are you expected to hit, sure, but how will you get there? What’s your target cost per new customer acquisition, for example? How will you define and measure sales team productivity and satisfaction?
You can make a spreadsheet say anything, and no sales leader is solely responsible for coming up with sales goals. But as you work with your management peers, ensure sales goals are aggressive but based in realistic expectations.
3. Inventory and secure the resources you need
So, about that sales number you’re expected to hit. Do you have enough reps? Do they have the tools they need? What’s required from your marketing team (in terms of leads, tools, training, market intelligence, etc.) to succeed?
This isn’t about setting up excuses and scapegoats when your numbers don’t reflect expectations at the end of January, but rather ensuring there’s forethought into how you’ll execute.
4. Plan and execute a kick-ass sales year kick-off meeting
In some organizations, the beginning-of-year sales kick-off meeting is a dying breed. But take a closer look at the most consistently successful sales teams across industries and you’ll find a dedication and focus to starting the year with everyone on the same page.
Get other executives involved, mix in plenty of training and role-playing, and ensure there’s also time for the team to gel, get to know each other, and have a little fun. Here are several additional best practices for your 2013 sales kick-off meeting.
5. Reserve time throughout the year for training & reinforcement
Successful sales managers know that training isn’t a one-and-done exercise. It’s not something reserved for the annual kick-off meeting. It’s a weekly if not daily discipline and practice. It’s done both formally and informally across the sales floor.
Good training is constantly revisited and reinforced. It’s celebrated and rewarded. It’s a requirement if you want your team at the top of their game, especially when the rest of your market and selling conditions are constantly changing.
6. Dedicate time for regular review & optimization
Don’t want until this time next year to reflect on what’s working and not working. Take time – on your own and with your managers – to review your metrics as well as the “soft” factors impacting sales performance and results. Take input from customers, prospects, competitors and those from other departments to constantly adjust strategies and tactics.
These tips are easier said than done, but talk to successful sales managers and learn more about their they’re second-nature habits. Worth considering and incorporating as the clock ticks closer to 2013.
Matt Heinz is the President of Heinz Marketing and the author of the books Sales for Startups and Successful Social Selling.
The opinions and views stated in this post are not intended to be legal advice and do not necessarily reflect that of Joe Wallin or Davis Wright Tremaine.