I overheard two salespeople talking in the Delta Sky Club last week.
First salesperson: “It’s Thanksgiving now. The selling year is over.”
Second salesperson: “Yeah. With the holidays, we won’t be closing deals ‘til January.”
But just a year ago a company projected it would end the year 12% short of target. The President set up a war room. She checked every day to make sure her team had what they needed to close deals. During one two-week stretch, they closed 1% of their annual target a day—over three times their typical day. And they finished the year ahead of plan.
And there’s the case of a product manager who entered December projecting she would end the year significantly short of her annual target. She called every regional sales manager to make sure the sales force paid attention to her product. She created a sales-promotion: $100 American Express gift card for any sales brought in in December. And she ended the year ahead of plan.
It’s Not Too Late
No doubt you are asking your team “are you on target for this year’s finish line?” We sometimes feel like we are competing in the Olympics with a laser focus on the end goal. Stress builds due to all of the pieces needing to come together as one.
Make your end-goal the primary focus. Leave the noise behind. It’s not too late.
Often, I found that the more significant sales did not finalize until near the end of the year. Bureaucracy requires multiple departmental meetings and verification of budgets to conclude business. I made sure to have several companies in the sales pipeline at the end of the year because red tape was bound to choke off some of the deals until next year.
Remain on Target
Sometimes I found myself running a million miles, but in varying directions. Doing so removed the possibility of going as far as I desired. So I learned to use two pre-steps for reaching the million-mile mark. Focus on the top activities that are more likely to lead to success and eliminate those that won’t. It’s the only way to remain on target for the year’s finish line.
There is always “something” in everyone’s have-to-do list that resembles dreaded drudge work. We drag our feet, knowing it needs to get done, but it just isn’t the type of work we prefer to do. So, we push off the ‘have to’ for yet another time. The better route is to master the marathon by taking care of whatever our drudgework may be to move past.
Here are some strategies I learned to use.
Be loyal to your CRM database. It will keep you on track for what needs your attention each day. It prevents us from ignoring the follow-up.
Each evening, take the time to delete old emails and files that no longer need your attention.
Running Task List
Prioritize and create a list of everything you need to do. Every day eliminate what is complete and add the new.
As we become efficient, we achieve goals more quickly. Continually reset weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals.
Here are ten suggestions for you to consider during year-end to fast track business development work.
- Examine all aspects of your business. Conversations with colleagues in Operations, Customer Service, even Accounts Receivable can uncover opportunities.
- Eliminate what is not working well. Now is a good time to take an honest look at the programs that you have committed time to, but which have not paid off.
- Leverage the strategies that produce the best. “Feed your winners and starve your losers,” is the time-tested best practice.
- Every morning and evening review your database for follow-up notes
- Make follow up calls to active prospects and clients
- Call the people who haven’t bought in twelve to eighteen months to learn what’s new on their agenda. The more people you call, the luckier you’ll get.
- As conversations develop, ask if there is interest in meeting.
- Examine possibilities from multiple perspectives to find a preferred solution.
- Clean up all files to get a head-start on the new year.
- Celebrate Success!
Your year-end sales time is also a good time to get ready for a fast start to next year.
Should you be inactive on some sites? Consider removing your profile. Un-follow those who are inactive. Your best strategy is to match with other active people, or else your activity is pointless.
Massive junk mail is a burden. Arrange your in-box so that you can quickly scan the subject line to know whether to delete or not. Any email appearing to be a scam, mark as junk.
Before any deletion, install a cloud service for backup to prevent loss of documentation.
Online Profiles and Account Settings
Is everything up to date on each profile for you and your business? Keep search engine optimization in mind. Each account is to reflect your most current information, including recent achievements.
It always surprises me when companies hide their phone numbers and other contact information. It discourages visitors from inquiring about services. Follow the sales philosophy, “make it easy” for others to say, “Yes!”
How old is the picture shown on your profile page? Another sales motto is, “People buy from people they know, like and trust.” Intuitive people can look at a picture to know whether there may be synergy. The photo represents you. It becomes an underlying marketing and sales tool. Some will refuse to do business with those who don’t accurately display themselves.
The time commitment devoted to cleanup proves to be well-worthwhile. The return reward is in future efficiencies and attracting interest in your work. You will be more likely to be on target for next year’s finish line.
Should any of the above suggestions be missing from your best practices, realize that we are always on a learning curve. Incorporate the ideas today that may influence more business. And keep the new year in mind as you complete transactions this year.
Not Too Late
The sales blitz and cleanup activities provide another benefit. Follow up reminders offer opportunities to reconnect with prospective clients. By the last quarter, more people are ready to purchase. Your cheerful hello, and inquiry about the upcoming holidays, will initiate a welcoming conversation.
“The above suggestions will increase your sales volume this year, and position you for a fast start next year.”
Elinor Stutz broke through barriers long before doing so was popular. Against all odds she defied the theme, “women can’t sell” to become the top producer at every company where she worked.
Elinore is the author of (1) "Nice Girls DO Get the Sale". It was an international best-seller and was featured in TIME Magazine. (2) "HIRED!" A copy of the book was accepted personally by President and First Lady Michelle Obama.
Elinore's blog "The Smooth Sale" blog enjoys wide distribution among corporations, entrepreneurs, and media. She is also a Top 1% Influencer and a Top 65 Business Women Influencer.