I don’t know about you but for me, the end of the year represents a needed break from the “never seem to catch up” normal of the rest of the year.  Although only a short week or so in duration, knowing that most people are off with family gives me a chance to reflect on the year just completed and reset for the new year ahead.

Jumping into a new year for many salespeople represents a fresh start and a new scorecard.  Top performers have their new sales goals set and are ready to put into action all aspects of their new sales plan. A “hit the ground running” attitude, along with a plan to back it up, definitely revs the sales engine and puts this group ahead of the game. 

Top salespeople go into each year with specific goals for success identified, an actionable plan, and measurable ways to track activities and results.  They rely on their CRM and estimating software as their central, data-driven resource to assist them in achieving their sales success plan.

With that in mind, here’s a short checklist of the most productive ways to start the new sales year so that you, too, can jump into the driver’s seat for 2021.

  1. Prospecting

Sales prospecting is a must throughout the year.  Starting the year off right means beginning your sales prospecting activities without delay.  Make a list of 5 activities that will lead you to new connections.  Be sure to record your monthly activity plan in your CRM, set weekly activity goals, and the number of leads you are targeting for each activity to keep your pipeline full.  Defining a plan, taking action and tracking results will get you to your goals!

Need a jump-start?  Here are a few ideas…

  • Revisit your CRM for 2020 “no’s”. Reach out to see if they are still in the market, what’s new, and how you might help.  Record results! (You can refer to our “Learning to Love Your CRM” blog post for more on this.)
  • Call your newest customers. Wish them the best for 2021 and ask if they know of another project or customer you might be perfect for. “Ask for referral” box – checked!
  • Networking groups – be the first to sponsor an activity where you personally present your 2021 “elevator pitch”. Focus on a quick story that grabs attention, specifically states the problem faced, your solution, and ends with the best kinds of leads the group may provide you. Track each network group as a “Lead Source” for great reporting.
  • eBlast New Year’s wishes with one piece of customer-focused useful information. This isn’t a hard pitch. Instead, it’s valuable insight your target audience needs to know.  The goal is to plant a seed that will blossom into a call back so, think it through. Be sure to include a special tagline you can validate as the “Lead Origin” when you get those callbacks.
  • Schedule and market a free 20-minute webinar with one focused subject most important to your audience. For instance, best practices for solving a specific, immediate problem or a checklist to follow when considering a new process, technology, or system. Be sure to enter the lead list into your CRM and post the webinar with a call to action on your website to get extra mileage and automatically create new leads.  You may even do this as part of your monthly prospecting plan!
  1. Pipeline Evaluation

Now is the time to review your 2020 to 2021 pipeline and understand the value of the opportunities you have in each stage of the pipeline. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the BIG quota number. Don’t let that psych you out!  You probably have a better jump-start toward 2021 goals than you realize. Run a few reports from your CRM and recognize that!  Once you have your sales reports, it’s easy to identify the places you feel confident, where you need to build, and where to focus on activities to fill the gaps.  A consistent pipeline in all sales stages is important to keep the steady fuel in the sales engine.

  1. Quota Goals & Management

I am still surprised when I hear company executives or sales leaders say that they don’t have sales quotas, often followed by something like, “we want to but…” or “my team always produces”.  Wanting to do something and not making it happen means it won’t happen. Assuming your team will always produce is a high-risk game with no real accountability.  Most often, quotas are not set or managed because the team or individual isn’t sure of how to put this into action.  Let’s do that now! 

  • Set annual sales quotas per salesperson. Review the last 3 years and set a goal 20-25% higher than that average. If you’re in a recurring revenue business, set both an outright sales quota and an “RMR” sales quota. (For suggestions on how to fill that RMR quota, click here.)
  • Break the annual quota into target sales ranges for both outright sales and RMR sales. For instance: small, medium, large, extra-large. (i.e. Small = $1 – $5,000 outright, $1 – $100/month RMR.) Each range builds where the last left off, the top range is open ended. Determine how many sales you will make in each range and “do the math” to confirm the number of sales needed to get to the magic sales quota targets.  Your CRM should provide your 3-year success history, help set and calculate new quota ranges, and enable tracking of target-to-goal for each.
  • Save 3-5 sales reports you will regularly use to support you in tracking opportunities in sales stages (pipeline), retiring opportunities no longer valid, forecasting sales wins, and ultimately, your targets-to-goal. This approach will help goal attainment, likely help you to exceed your goals, and most importantly, keep you always ready for next steps.

So, there you have it.  Three key action items to jump-start and rev your sales plan for 2021.  Here’s to the new year and your success.  Ready, set, go!