As we close out 2011, it is time to take personal inventory and make a B2B sales plan for 2012. To this end, we have listed some questions and ideas to help prepare you for this shift into the new year as we head into a holiday break. This food for thought is guaranteed to be low in calories and high in results when digested (used) properly.
1. What worked well in 2011:
Take a look at the products, solutions or services you sell. What created the most impact to your top line? Where did you see the best margins? What promotions were of most interest? Were there specific campaigns, team members or strategies that had a positive impact? If so, replicate them in 2012.
2. Where do you need to improve in your sales process in 2012:
Let’s learn from our mistakes. What issues did you resolve in 2011? Were there poor hiring decisions? What resources were duds? Have you evaluated new resources or vendors to see if there’s a better fit? How did you stack up against your competitors this year? How are you measuring success? You might want to evaluate this process in order to identify obstacles as early as possible. How can you motivate yourself to be better in 2012? Consider finding some ways to help you maintain your strengths and strengthen your weaknesses
3. Raise your own quota, goals or aspirations:
Why wait for management to do it for you? Being a proactive team member is always encouraging for a manager. In reading Derek Jeter’s autobiography, “The Life You Imagine”, his batting average goal for every year is .500. The highest career batting average in MLB is by Ty Cobb at .366, Derek Jeter’s career average is at .313. The lesson learned from his 5 World Series rings: “High expectations are the key to everything” – Sam Walton. A wise sales manager once asked me to develop both sales goals and personal goals that I wanted to achieve for the year. Little did I realize how much they relate. Create both of these for yourself and track them. You might just have a little merrier Christmas next year!
4. Develop your sales plan for 2012:
Putting things on paper will allow you to properly analyze what you are trying to accomplish and how to make it possible. It will also set a standard to measure against through each quarter. Not having a plan and shooting from the hip generally leads to inconsistency and a LOT of frustration.
5. Develop a proper lead generation strategy:
Leads don’t fall from trees and networks cannot be depended on. Implement a lead generation strategy to avoid pits and valleys while keeping the top of your funnel full. The best sales people are those with good follow-through skills. Without an effective funnel to utilize, you will be waiting for the phone to ring. You might as well wait at home and wait for someone to put food on your table.
6. Develop a sales funnel optimization strategy:
This relates somewhat to #5 and proper follow through. How are you touching your prospects so that you are the first that comes to mind when they are ready to buy? There are many methods and tools available that can help. Some ideas are to leverage inside sales or lead generation methods through telemarketing. Also, email marketing and marketing automation will add value in this area. The key piece is content. Are you relying on marketing to provide all the content? What can you do?
7. Reporting and Analysis:
Take a look at last year’s activity and how you can better analyze the activity which provide the year’s results. Be sure to have templates or a reporting mechanism ahead of time to help you evaluate in real time rather than after the fact. Some may consider this a no-brainer, but is your reporting and analysis consistent and are you actually looking at it? I can’t tell you how many times I get reports that I don’t open but I insisted needed to be done daily or weekly.
8. How can you work better with marketing:
If you help them, they will help you. They exist to supplement your efforts but are your equal. If you do not provide feedback on what works and not, programs that are working will mysteriously end and projects that don’t will move forward. This is due to the fact that there is often a gap between sales and marketing when there needs to be alignment. What can you do or what feedback can you provide to help? They will reward you for it. What is that old saying? You get out of life what you put into it.
9. How can you increase market Awareness:
When you look at your website, are you embarrassed? Well, make a change or recommend one. With all of this hoopla around SEO, SEM and Social Media, are you even dipping your toe in the water to see if it works? We are by no means experts but can say that it works.
Just remember, don’t get lost in the numbers like Alexa Rankings, Twitter followers and Facebook fans, they’re meaningless. What really counts is the number of quality leads and closes you get out of a program. Trust me. I know. I spent the last year staring at Hubspot like a 12 year old kid playing Madden 2012. Focus on the end result and make changes where necessary. Definitely consider outsourcing lead generation to a professional that knows what they’re doing rather than trying to take on everything internally. How about having more quality leads and a fewer headaches in the new year!?
10. “Sharpen the Saw”
I already touched on this a bit in #2 but as Covey tells us, “Enhance the greatest asset you have – YOU”. Sit in on webinars that can help you be a better b2b salesperson in 2012. Maybe attend a seminar or event related to new ways of selling. Read, Read, Read!! And not just about sales methodologies and “Sales for Dummies”. Understand your prospects. Read what they read. Stay up to date on current events and what is happening in business today. It may be a good conversation piece while developing a relationship with your prospect over a steak dinner.
11. Create a Top 5 list of must-reads for 2012
I cannot reiterate enough how important reading is to being great asset for your prospects and your company. Through literature, we can use or share what we have learned in real situations to add real value. So, develop a TOP 5 list for 2012. It’s kind of like the summer reading list you got as a kid. Schools mandate it for a reason.
12. Party hard but be prepared to work harder
As you head out into your “winter wonderland” to drink your egg nog and be merry, be prepared for fresh start on your most productive year ever. All too soon the band will stop playing and it will be time for work once again. So, start off on day one with a plan, a mission and goals to drive you and here’s to a great 2012. Cheers!