If you’re a diligent, results-oriented sales executive, the driving force behind your 2017 planning is how to improve sales performance. Whether you’re a startup looking to scale your process, an established business looking to penetrate new markets, or a company ready to bounce back from a period of lagging sales, boosting your numbers is key.
There are many different techniques, tools, and tactics to help you, but before you get bogged down in the details, here are four tips to help you stay on track.
1. Develop a Customized Plan
To improve sales performance and reach your goals this year, you need a plan to get you there. Without a plan to give you some direction, you’ll just be wandering around aimlessly in the woods. To ensure success, create a comprehensive plan that outlines your goals and challenges, identifies new initiatives for the year, and benchmarks your current performance. Doing a little leg work up front will allow you to refine your strategy and measure your success along the way.
2. Take Your Plan for a Test Drive
This won’t be as fun as a new Audi, but it’s important. Your first plan is not likely going to be your final one, and just the same your plan will require adjustments throughout the year. Every sales strategy and plan needs to be tested, refined and measured continuously to remove subjectivity.
Lean on your network, associates close to your business and even clients who have a deep relationship with you. Share and test your sales approach with these groups to gain insights and make improvements. It will help ensure success in the long run.
3. Assemble Your A-Team & Structure Them for Success
Once you have a winning sales plan in place, you’re going to need the right team to execute against it. It’s time to assemble your A-team. Start by evaluating your current resources—the talented folks who make up your sales team. Take a look at each person’s strengths and weaknesses to determine where you most need support. If hiring an additional team member isn’t in the cards this year, consider partnering with a sales consulting firm that specializes in executing both short- and long-term sales strategies.
It’s also critical to create the structures and mechanisms that provide management and the sales team with two-way feedback. This data-driven channel must utilize facts and research to enable your team to see clearly what is working and what’s not. And, when it’s not working, you’ll need to provide the appropriate range of flexibility and autonomy to allow for a fast pivot and realignment with sales and revenue targets.
4. Take Action
This is the fun part. Now that you’ve built, tested, and refined your plan, and your A-team is ready to go, it’s time to take action. Although it may seem overly simplistic to say, you need to take action to make your goals a reality. It’s this step that leaves many sales executives in the planning stage until the year is nearly complete.
Using historical data and industry information, set mini goals, benchmarks, and deadlines to ensure you’re making progress and staying on track. If you need to do $1 million in business for the year, then what do you need to achieve in Q1? Is there a seasonality flow to consider? What is your closed deal percentage and how many pitches do you need to have per month to hit your goal? These are important questions that need to be addressed with reliable information to ensure each decision is supported with data.
The new year is a great time to start fresh. If you take the time to create a robust sales plan, shore up your team, and take action, you will start to see the fruits of your labor and be on your way to meeting – maybe even exceeding – your 2017 goals.