Sales Leaders around the world will arrive at their desk this morning to find the remnants of last week’s work; stacks of last minute contracts needing approval, modifications to prior deals, new pricing guidelines for 2012, post-it notes of phone messages to be returned, and the now partially molding coffee mug half filled with eggnog.
For some VP Sales, 2011 was a great year filled with sales successes, new contracts, surpassed revenue goals, and the happiness and optimism that 2011 will be the solid foundation that the 2012 Sales Strategy can be built upon. Other Sales Leaders couldn’t be happier to have 2011 in the history books. It was a miserable, challenging, and disappointing year. Joy is the common theme, but for completely different reasons. The other common thread today is that the clock is officially reset to ZERO. Yes… zero – meaning that 2011 is old news to your CEO and the Board. The sales strategy conversation has shifted from “Tell what you’ve done for me,” to “Tell me what you’re going to do.” And just like that… the party is over!
Most sales organizations have planned Sales Kick-Off (SKO) meetings for January or February. These sales strategy events are held for a variety of great reasons:
- Acknowledging top performers from 2011 – Boost morale and motivate sales professionals to meet goals again in 2012.
- Communicating the company’s strategic goals for 2012 – Continue to grow the business with a solid sales process and sales strategy planning.
- Introducing new product/service offering for 2012 – Keep everyone informed and involved with the company.
- Exposure to a new training or selling technique – Improve the overall sales force effectiveness of your sales team.
- New compensation/incentive plans – Properly incentivize sales reps to perform and meet quotas.
All these things are important and are definitely necessary if you plan on having a successful year in 2012. But do any of them prevent you from getting off to a fast start today? Is it possible that your sales team is under the impression that something will be better or easier after SKO? Are they holding back because of that? It’s possible. Can you afford to have your team not running at full speed today? Probably not. How deep of a hole will you start in if you miss your number in January because your sales team is waiting for the magic of SKO to take hold? Missing your January revenue target could put you behind your plan by as much as 8-10%. Playing catch-up for the entire year of 2012 is not where you want to be. Avoid this problem by implementing a strong sales strategy that counts on making your number in January, as well as all of the months that follow. Don’t fall behind!
Take these 4 Easy Steps today to prevent what I like to call, “The Turtle Start”:
- What deals did you not win at the end of 2011? These are the opportunities that are potentially the easiest to win today. Did they choose a competitor or decide to wait? If they waited, what is your plan to re-engage them and create the same level of urgency to make a buying decision today? The urgency, focus and resource allocation should be similar to what it was prior to the end of 2011.
- Does your Sales Team know what their goals are for January? If not, don’t wait till SKO to tell them. Time is money, my friend, and you would be wasting a good deal of it. (That’s generally not a good sales strategy) Communicate what expectations you have for them during the timeframe leading up to SKO. Put a fun recognition in place (public praise at SKO) for sales professionals that get a fast start to 2012.
- Has the “buzz” of a new sales compensation plan created a distraction? If so, communicate and foreshadow all of the positive attributes and aspects of the plan. Every plan is about generating sales and revenue; encourage them that today is the best time to start – not the week after SKO.
- Field Sales Leadership- your sense of energy, focus, and inspection will be directly correlated to how fast your sales team gets started. You go dark for the next few weeks and they’ll do the same. As the Sales Leader, you set the tone. Your sales team responds to you, so make the most of that situation. Make today, tomorrow and the month of January have the same urgency as December. Inspect what you expect.
You invested heavily in the creation of your sales strategy and plans for 2012. It’s been adjusted, tweaked and approved. Now implement that sales strategy so it can benefit your company to its fullest potential. The CEO and Executive team are counting on you to deliver a successful 2012 Sales Strategy. Getting out ahead of your sales plan will create the confidence your sales team needs, and put the wind in your sails. Make January the best ever- GET GOING NOW!
How do you avoid falling into the post-holiday, early-year lull? What plans do you have to motivate your sales team to success in early 2012?
Get a jump on 2012 by downloading a complimentary copy of our newest book “Promoted to VP of Sales – The Year 1 Toolkit”.