Every January 1st brings with it a new round of resolutions, both personal and professional. You’ve made it through the first week of the year and your goals are hanging there. You may be feeling as if you’re already behind, or you’ve missed them already.
For me, the first week went by in a blur. One of my personal resolutions was to post a new article to our blog every week to keep you current on what we’re finding is working in sales and marketing. And here I am, 11 days into the year, and late already.
So do you give up? After only 11 days?
Sales can feel the same way. You set a bright, shiny optimistic goal, thinking that this year you really can exceed your quota by 20%, or earn 15% more than last year. You’re going to get out there, talk to more prospects, and win more clients.
By the end of January, you’re discouraged because it’s the same old story. Prospects are too busy to take your calls. December’s proposals are still lingering. Your pipeline is going stale. Your boss is standing over you – or if you’re the boss, you’re glaring at yourself in the mirror.
Okay. Enough of that. We aren’t going there this year.
Rather than set a lofty sales goal then wait for the power of positive thinking or The Secret to deliver, let’s do something different. Let’s set ourselves up for sales success now, when we still have 354 days left in the year.
Your revenue goal is a destination. Like any destination, you can get there with a sales plan. You can even get there early with a plan.
Consider what your sales plan should be. Here are 10 actions that will help you achieve your sales goal faster:
- Measure your sales activities. You’ve probably heard that which gets measured, improves. It’s true. Choose 3 metrics and monitor them closely all year. Consider measuring your prospecting time, number of new appointments, appointments that convert, proposals delivered, to name a few. Then see how you can improve them.
- Monitor your pipeline. I look at my pipeline every day. I get nervous if it’s low and that motivates me. The rule of thumb is to maintain 3 times your quota in your pipeline at all times. Watch your pipeline to see where you need to focus to stay on track.
- Improve your close rate. The better your close rate, the fewer new leads you need and the faster you’ll reach your sales goal. If yours is less than 50%, look for ways to improve it.
- Reduce the length of your sales process. Perhaps the fastest way to do this is to qualify opportunities consistently through the sales process, and to follow up more frequently. You’ll spend less time on opportunities that aren’t real.
- Increase your average sale. A simple strategy is to give your prospect something extra in their proposal. Include one additional item or a second option that you think they’d find valuable based on their issue.
- Align with people who can bring leads. Review your LinkedIn connections and make a list of all the people who interact with your potential prospects and network with them. Create your own leads group.
- Ask for more referrals. Referrals are the easiest way to get more business, yet the most frequently ignored prospecting strategy. Set a goal for yourself to ask for 2 referrals a week. That’s a pretty easy goal to achieve.
- Don’t accept the first “no”. Too many sales people have lost their persistence. Stay fully engaged until you get a definitive “no thank-you.” Then set an activity to check in with the contact again next quarter.
- Prospect consistently. Regardless of your sales role, you need new opportunities. Schedule time every week to prospect and don’t allow anything to keep you from it. Following up on marketing qualified leads, prospecting in a large account, and drop-by cold calling all count.
- Have fun. Life is too short not to, and the more fun you’re having, the more your prospects and clients will want to work with you. If it’s not fun, step back and examine #1-9 and figure out what’s not working.
No matter how much time you have left in the year, these actions give you the sales plan to make your goal. Go for it!