Closing out Q4 and making this year’s number is priority #1.  But the New Year will be upon us before we know it.  And with it comes a new revenue goal.  Get ahead of the curve and outpace your competitors.  In the midst of the yearend frenzy, start getting ready for next year. 


In this post we’ll cover some tools the top performing Sales Managers have in their Toolbox.  SBI’s 2014 Research Report covers the entire toolbox top 10% sales leaders use to consistently make the number.  Download the report here.


When thinking about next year’s strategy, here are six steps to consider when building out your plan:


Tool #1 – The Ideal Customer Profile

The first tool in your toolbox is a defined Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).  Having clarity on what is a good customer or prospect seems like a no-brainer.  It is.  But if you ask your sales reps to define the ICP, you’ll get varying answers.  It will be hard to prioritize their efforts without this clarity.  Clarity brings focus.  Focus your team’s selling efforts on the accounts that will drive the greatest revenue in the shortest amount of time.


Tool #2 – The Sales Plan

The second tool in your toolbox is a Sales Plan.  The sales plan defines how you are going to achieve the revenue goal:  What accounts will you call on?  How much of product A, B & C will you sell?  It also details how you intend to allocate your resources in pursuit of making the number.  For example, what are your headcount needs by role? If your Sales Leader hasn’t provided you the roadmap, push for one. Remember… “A people without a vision perish.”


Tool #3 – The Prospecting Playbook

Prospecting is hard work.  Only a few reps have truly mastered that art.  Today, a sales rep must generate greater than 75% of their leads.  That’s a tall order.  Decision makers don’t want to meet a rep prospecting for business.  They don’t return your calls, ignore your emails and delete your text messages.  Reps need help prospecting.  A Prospecting Playbook gathers all the best practices and spreads it across your team.  Use it for training and coaching.


Tool #4 – The Time Study

You want to maximize your team’s selling time.  The more hours they have selling, the greater the chance to drive revenue.  A time study is a simple way of determining where your reps are wasting valuable selling time.  Set up some basic categories, both selling & non-selling activities.  Have your team track their day by 30 minute increments for two weeks.  Identify the activities that could be eliminated or shifted to an admin.  The goal is to maximize selling time.


Tool #5 – The A-Player Scorecard

What are the 8-10 critical skills that define an A-player?  Put them down on paper and assess your team against them.  The assessment will reveal two things: (1) each rep’s strengths and weaknesses, (2) common skill gaps for the team.  Your coaching should focus on the individual’s gaps.  Your recruiting efforts should screen for proficiency in the defined A-player skills. Your team training should address the common gaps.


Tool #6 – The Content Audit

What materials do your reps need to be successful?  You want to make sure they are 100% enabled to facilitate a purchase decision.  A content audit will inventory what you have and what you need.  The goal is to have the right content in the hands of the right person at the right time.  Step 1 is to map the buying process of your buyers.  Identify the steps they take in a purchase decision.  Start with “Not in the Market.” What are your buyers doing in each step?  What are they solving for?  What are they asking themselves as they progress to a purchase decision?  For each stage in the journey, there should be a relevant piece of content that facilitates their journey.  Use this tool to engage marketing to get what you need. 


Get Going!  These are just some of the tools you will need.  Download SBI’s research report here to get more ideas.  The goal is to be ready for next year.  Don’t let the New Year sneak up on you unawares.  Start planning now.