It’s 2020 – so what’s on your New Year’s resolution list?

Maybe it’s getting in shape or eating better. Or chasing a better night’s sleep. Or learning a new skill. Or reading more books. 

All great ideas, but if you’re in sales, you’re missing a big one: crushing your sales quota. After all, the holidays are over. Q1 has just begun. It’s the perfect time to hit the ground running as a brand new year begins and work starts ramping up again. 

And like your other resolutions, this one requires perspective, planning, performance, and perseverance. 

So what should you add to your resolution list? We’ve got a few ideas to share.


Gain Perspective on Last Year

Reflect on wins and losses

Start this year off right by going over last year. Look through the deals you won and lost, and ask yourself two big questions:

  • Why did you win the deals you won?
  • Why did you lose the deals you lost?

Don’t settle for the first answer that comes to mind. It’s important to identify what your successes and challenges were, but it’s even more important to identify the root causes behind them. That’s why we love Toyota’s “five whys” method – each time you answer the question, ask “why?” again. You might be surprised at what’s actually holding you back or pushing you forward.

Measure your benchmarks

Go over your metrics from last year too. Numbers like these are a goldmine when it comes to figuring out the work you have to do to hit this year’s quotas:

  • Conversion rates
  • Calls, emails, and social media touchpoints
  • Deal size
  • Length of your sales cycle
  • Product demonstrations you gave
  • Time you actually spent selling
  • Lead response time
  • Meetings scheduled
  • Opportunity win rates

Look for trends in these numbers. If you notice that your successful prospects share something in common, a small handful of clients accounted for the majority of your sales, or your lost deals failed in the same stage of your sales process, take note – these trends are super important in your planning. Speaking of which:


Plan this Year’s Approach

Think long-term 

It’s one thing to ask yourself, “How will I make my quota this month?” But what you should be asking is, “How will I meet my targets for this year?” If you know what you need to achieve by December 31, you can break it down by month, factoring in things like vacations and the natural ebbs and flows in your business.

And it’s not just about the quota. It’s also about the activities you need to do to feed that sales funnel. If it takes 20 leads and 100 touchpoints to get that one sale, make sure you account for that in your annual and monthly plan.

Prepare your days in advance

You’ll need to prep for each day and each meeting, as well as for the year. Before you log off for the night, set time aside to:

  • Review agendas for your upcoming meetings
  • Plan the questions you’ll ask your prospects and the outcomes you want to achieve with them
  • Go over notes in your knowledge sharing platform about the prospect and their needs
  • Create a hook in advance for each prospect you’ll speak to
  • Know where each deal is within your pipeline and what the next step is

The upfront work will pay off when you get on that call or enter that meeting feeling confident and knowledgeable.

Tidy up the pipeline

What would Marie Kondo say if she saw your sales pipeline? Clutter is a real problem. It can skew your projections and give a false sense that you’re on your way to meeting your quota when you’re really not. It’s time to get honest and weed out:

  • Unqualified leads that aren’t a good fit for your product
  • Prospects who have gone dark (and aren’t likely to come back)
  • Stagnant leads that are going nowhere

Now, the important part: keep that pipeline clean. This isn’t a one-and-done exercise. Plus, you’ll breathe easier once you know what’s really happening – and focus on the deals that matter most.


Time to Perform

Always be prospecting

You should be spending as much time prospecting on the last day of the month as you are on the first day of the month. After all, if you want consistent sales numbers, you need to have a consistent flow of prospects coming through your pipeline. 

How to keep it going? New opportunities are a huge part, but don’t forget to ask your happy clients for referrals and dig for old prospects who are ripe for re-engagement. Keep in mind, though, that quality beats quantity. Bad leads waste time that could be better spent selling to good ones.

Ask for feedback – and own it

This is your bravery test for the year: take your calls, emails, and demos, and ask your team to review them. How well do you read and understand the message? How do you handle surprises? Are you clear about establishing the next steps? 

Getting an outside perspective – especially from your top-performing colleagues or your manager – can only help you improve if you listen to what they have to say. Plus, it helps encourage a culture where sharing knowledge is the norm.


Keep a Good Thing Going

Don’t give up

This is our final tip… and it’s a big one. No matter what happens, or how many times you stumble, don’t throw in the towel. Like any resolution, while it may seem like you’re taking one step forward and two steps back at times, it takes practice to get things right. Revisit your goals to remind yourself why you’re putting in the effort and keep moving forward. It’s a long year and you can expect to take some losses. A lost deal is just a lost deal, and everyone can have a bad month. Don’t let short term pains affect a long term goal!

Happy new year, and happy selling!


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