Hey, haven’t you heard? 2015 is coming to an end! While some may be thinking of the 12 days of Christmas with sugar plums dancing in their heads, 2016 is literally days away.
Many in sales, marketing and operational leadership roles are still adding final touches to their sales teams’ 2016 budgets, plans, goals, tools, software and other sales and marketing resources.
Those in the know set plans a year or more in advance. That means that planning for a successful 2016 year-end starts right now!
As companies plan their entire year, many forget the simple key that is the difference between just getting to quota, and knocking it out of the park: smashing their monthly, quarterly and yearly goals. The difference can be huge, allowing the sales rep to make bank and join the ranks of the Presidents’ Club.
12 Days of Sales Planning
1) Sell like hell! Time kills all deals!!! Make sure your team has the ability to close all opportunities out there. Literally whatever it takes, anything goes; don’t hold back, wide open throttle!!! Even those deals that you thought were lost can spring into life. Conversely, time truly heals all deals too; even those that you thought were lost!
2) Marketing: Yes, the brother/sister relationship we all grew up to love and hate. Hey, it’s the holidays. Get into each other’s good graces and make sure that you’re included in each other’s 2016 decisions. No hidden agendas or power trip surprises; again you’re part of the family.
3) Social Media and Social Selling: It goes without saying that we’re a fast-paced, on-demand society. Use this medium to further express your brand’s value, features and benefits. Highlight a latest blog, press release, new hire, or acknowledge an achievement. Also, have fun! Many buyers have a sense of humor and are looking for both the human and personality side of the business.
4) Sales Team Review: Take a look at the individuals who make up the team. Are they aligned in the right areas? Know each team member’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s not always roses and gumdrops; sometimes you need to make serious hiring and firing decisions. In your mind, ask some tough questions of each individual member. Are they willing to break down the walls? Can they overcome tough situations? Do they have the right cultural fit? Are they a flight risk? There are many metrics you can use to measure but the one that should be high on the list is: Can they perform and do the job and exceed their sales goals?
5) Territory Alignment: Having the right territory alignment is critical to a sales team’s success. Too large of a territory and the sales rep is inefficient managing such a vast region. Too small of an area, and your sales rep is packing their bags like a hobo on a ham sandwich to the next career opportunity.
The new and modern way of thinking is leveraging what’s called “open territories.” When crafted and set up properly, open territories outperform the traditional assigned territories. Set up a “rules of engagement” to address any outliers, like when and how to engage, and assigning leads. Team will thank you handsomely with consistent overachievement.
6) Sales Compensation Plans: We’re all in sales to make money. If you design a sales compensation plan that is complex and riddled with so many “clawbacks,” “gotchas,” ifs, ands, and but statements, you’re not only de-motivating your sales team, you’re telling them that you don’t value their contributions.
Tread carefully my Leadership friends, Sales Compensation plans should be simple to read and understand. Any legal language should be reviewed by a licensed attorney. Do not try and hack it alone, I can’t stress that enough! In the end you want to reward performance and do something really special for your overachievers. (See # 12.)
7) Sales Acceleration Tools, Software and Other Productivity Resources: Sales is undergoing an incredible transformation in process, data, automation and innovative sales acceleration technologies, what’s being dubbed the “sales stack era.” There is literally a tool for every aspect of the sales process.
These tools can give your team that boost!
- CRMs: Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle CRM OnDemand NetSuite, Zoho
- Email Automation Tools: ToutApp, and Yesware
- Conferencing: GoToMeeting, UberConference, Join.me
- Presentation Software: ClearSlide, Qvidian, AlignMeeting
- Document Management: DocuSign, EchoSign, PandaDoc
- Calling Automation: InsideSales.com, ConnectandSell and ConnectLeader
- Sales Training Programs: There are many programs out there, our preference is Sandler Sales.
- Sales Enablement Tools: Playboox
- Sales Reporting: Beyond your CRM’s ability to pull reports we highly recommend InsightSquared
- Predictive Analytics: these tools help you “predict” who to call and when from our partners at CareCube.
Even here at Gravity Sales Development we’re undergoing the next evolution in the On-Demand Sales/Sales as a Service (SaaS) market space with our goal of being your end-to-end, scalable sales team. It’s crazy as our team scours the Earth for the best tools and technologies for use both in-house and on our clients’ behalf. (Shameless pitch, yes I know.)
8) Sales Development and Lead Generation: Not enough light is shed on the most critical element in the sales process–lead generation and sales development. This is the bridge between the marketing and sales camps. This refers to the actual rapport- and trust-building engagement with a potential customer, using any medium from social media to email, and yes, actually picking up the phone.
Whether you call it cold call (never spoken to before), warm call (previous attempt or engagement) or hot calls (they want you to call them), the majority of business is still closed over the phone. Rolling phone calling into a strategic multi-touch campaign is the gift that truly keeps on giving! Even in this techno cyber world, there’s still no replacement for relationships with humans. It’s just that today, there are so many new tools to get you to that right human at the right time, right when they need you.
9) Sales, Marketing and the Trade Show Calendar: The trade show is the quintessential opportunity to engage personally with prospects. Trade shows represent an opportunity to share knowledge and learn from potential prospects, vendors, partners, and thought leaders in your industry space—even competitors!
Early on in my sales career I was sent to various and exotic locales for trade shows, to attend, network, or listen to thought leaders in the high-tech field I was in. The best advice I can offer is look for every opportunity to meet and network. After-hour events or offsite parties are often the best, since the atmosphere allows folks to let their guards down and simply have fun and be human again.
Whether you go as an attendee or exhibitor, trade shows should definitely be part of your 2016 sales budget.
10) Sales Goals: Having sales goals is a must to keep the sales team focused and on track. Sales goals need to be lofty, but obtainable with hard work and perseverance. Too low of a goal and the team gets lazy and complacent. If it’s set too high, they feel overwhelmed and not able to contribute. There is a whole science behind setting sales goals—we’ll leave that for another post.
11) Sales Leadership: Leadership is critically important for an organization’s success. Do you have the right leader steering the ship? How does he or she handle rocky situations? What is his or her track record?
Too often sales leaders have their own agendas that don’t align with the company’s overall corporate goals. It’s important to find a leader that sees and values both sides of the equation: corporate and sales team. A great leader is one who is inspiring, who has been in your shoes before. They are the ones that make the hard judgment calls. I personally rejected many wannabe managers, directors and VP’s of sales who may have had the educational requirements but lacked the hands-on knowledge, working experience, understanding of team dynamics, or who lacked the creativity to put deals or opportunities together for their team. Sales can at times be a grind but with perseverance and hard work there is a reward at the end. No degree can teach you that.
12) Reward for Over Performance, President’s Club and Incentives:The biggest threat to any organization is losing your top sales performer. Even if you were to train a new sales exec to help fill in for the top dog, it may very well take you 6 to 9 months to get that individual up and running, never mind getting them to sales baller status.
A better solution is to reward individuals for going above and beyond. If you have not already done so, set up a recognition program for your top sales team members. Those team members are the ones that will help shape the company and organization of the future. Create a President’s Club, the ultimate exclusivity club in any organization. Reward your President’s Club members with awards, trips to exotic warm locales, keys to a company car, or golf club memberships.
This is not an area where you want to play Mr. Scrooge. This is your top team and they are the ones that will be on the frontlines representing your brand.
This list is not intended to be the be-all and end-all. It’s just designed to provide some thought-provoking ideas and questions. To err is human. If there are items I missed feel free to call, email, tweet me and will definitely get those added to the list. Let’s see if we can get to 365 days of sales planning as a thesis for a future post. Have a Safe Holiday Everyone!