With 2017 coming to an end, it's time to buckle down and start making those New Year's resolutions. As you start compiling your list of all the things you want to achieve in 2018, remember that the purpose of making a New Year's Resolution is to change behavior, accomplish a goal and/or improve your life. We've come up with some sales specific resolutions that will help you achieve all three of these outcomes for you and your sales team (don't worry, none of them involve dieting or exercise).
Here are six things all sales leaders should resolve to do in 2018:
Use Data to Drive Sales
The most successful and innovative sales leaders use data to their advantage, so if you aren't embracing data and analytics in your sales organization you need to start now! A study by CSO Insights found that 94% of world class sales organizations know why their top sales performers are successful AND use sales analytics to measure and predict sales performance. Identifying actionable insights, establishing KPIs for your organization, and staying current with your data is key to gaining a competitive advantage in today's data-driven market.
Adopt a Continuous Sales Planning Approach
Creating a sales plan that you look at only once a year is no longer cutting it in today's dynamic business world. To get the upper hand in 2018 you'll need real-time information, and data readily available at your fingertips. For sales, that means regularly checking your performance against plan in order to get a read on how well you're executing. One of the major benefits of continuous planning is that you're able to catch potential problems and course correct or adjust your plan before those problems become detrimental to your business. Once you start routinely modifying and analyzing your sales plan you'll be sorry you didnt start doing it sooner.
Align with Finance
It's important to remember that a lot of what sales does impacts the financial plan one way or another, and although you sit in different departments you do have one mutual goal: increasing profitability. So how can sales better align with finance in 2018? The answer is simple: sharing. Share you sales plan and share your data. If you're able to show finance how hiring next month vs hiring in six months will impact bookings you'll not only impress them, but you'll be better able to justify headcount spend too. You'll find there's a positive impact for the whole sales organization when sales and finance are setting goals together and regularly communicating. If I haven't convinced you yet, would it help to say one of the benefits of aligning finance and sales is reducing time to close?
Set Realistic Quotas
All sales leaders should have high expectations for their team, but there's a fine line between an aggressive goal and an unattainable goal. When setting quotas, you should ensure that the majority of your team will be able to hit them; impossible goals are not motivating, and reps will be unable to succeed if they're set up to fail. By making sure your quotas are fair and attainable, you'll not only be able to keep your employees happy and reduce unexpected turnover, but you'll also be more likely to deliver accurate sales forecasts. Not sure where to start? Read PandaDoc's Guide for Setting Realistic Sales Goals for tips.
Make Sure Your Sales Ops Person is Happy
If you think sales operations professionals are just number crunchers, think again, they are an extremely valuable asset to growing organizations. Sales operations knows all, sees all, and hears all, so if you aren't already working closely with them its time you start. Make sure they have the data and tools they need in order to help you run a productive and successful sales team, and consult with them often on ways in which you can improve sales practices, strategies, and plans.
P.S. If you don't have a dedicated sales ops person, make it your top priority to hire one!
Be Proactive in Hiring
Hiring too late can put your sales targets at risk, and we all know hiring good sales people is no easy task. Start using data to not only understand the time it takes to hire and ramp reps at your company, but also analyze how hiring and ramp impact your ability to achieve your sales goals. Can you hit your targets with the sales resources you currently have? How will hiring 3 months later than you anticipated affect your bookings? Many sales leaders miss the mark in hiring and it negativity impacts their ability to hit their targets; so a proactive approach to hiring will work in your favor.
By implementing any or all of these methods into your sales strategy, you'll be able to change the behavior of your team and surrounding departments for the better, you'll be better equipped to accomplish your sales goals, and you'll improve your life by knowing that you and your team are successful. So as we reflect on 2017 and look forward to all the possibilities that 2018 may bring, keep these six ways to support your sales team in mind, they could be the key to a bright and prosperous new year!