Four Simple Action Steps to Get Salespeople across the Annual Finish Line Smiling


December 5, 2016

  • finish-line-smiling

It’s December – which, for a lot of salespeople, means the moment of reckoning is approaching.

Whether you are happily on target to hit your annual/quarterly goal … are facing the final few weeks of the fiscal year with a feeling of growing dread … or find yourself somewhere in between those two extremes …I have two pieces of good news for you.

First: everyone who’s a true professional has an obligation to finish the selling year strong. That means no matter what your income or sales position is right now, you can feel good about pursuing that goal. Only amateurs coast!

Second: there are four simple, effective, proven action steps you can take right now that will make it much easier for you to close the year with a smile on your face.

Action Step #1: Identify Situations Where You Can Quickly Expand the Relationship

We all have buyers who have fallen off the radar screen for one reason or another. Maybe we got busy with the other deals we were working on. Maybe we simply haven’t thought about the person or the account for a while. Most of the time we are so focused on looking for net new business, we forget that the best place to find net new business is within our own current client base!

Invest a little bit of time – half an hour to an hour, say – to the critical task of identifying and analyzing your top current accounts. Break down that list into two categories: Category One: those who haven’t heard from you in a while, are happy working with you, and could get even happier by using more of your product or service. (This could be something you sell but simply haven’t exposed them to.) Category Two: everybody else. Once you’ve done that, put aside Category Two.

Now it’s time to work your “people I’ve lost track of who love me” list. Doing this should be your very first priority this month. These are the people  who already have a good relationship with you and your organization, and who would benefit by expanding that relationship. This month, you want to reach out personally to each and every person on this list. Use it to generate some business - and shorten your selling cycle!

Action Step #2: Spotlight Buyers You Know Are Working with a Competitor

December is a great month to reach out to these folks. For one thing, it’s a classic time for buyers to review and reassess current business relationships. For another, some annual contracts may be about to expire. Reach out, connect, find out what’s going on, and see how much wallet share you can win. In all likelihood, most of your accounts are doing business with several of your competitors!

We work with plenty of sales teams who score significant deals in December after we’ve shared this advice with them. They tell us things like, “It was a lot easier than I thought. I realized I had never actually tried to take the business away.”

Action Step #3: Hit LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the world’s biggest and best professional network. This December, you can use it in a couple of particularly powerful ways.

This month, identify the individual contacts you’re connected to who have left your base of happy customers without you realizing it ... and moved on to work for someone else. (Admit it, you lost track over the past eleven months.) Find out who they’re working with now. Make a call. Again, there’s a very good chance you can leverage your past success and close some business in the near term … and shorten your cycle.

You can also evaluate the LinkedIn connections of your biggest fans. Look for their first-level connections you should be working with, either inside or outside of the company. Get the introductions …. and jump-start your sales cycle.

Action Step #4: Micromanage Your Cookbook

A “cookbook” is a daily behavioral plan for success. This is your predetermined set of actions that, when undertaken daily, weekly, and monthly, delivers a predictable, measurable outcome that equals “sales success.” Just as carefully following a proven recipe for a chocolate cake will always produce a chocolate cake, following a good sales cookbook will always produce the level of income you have identified as your goal.

If you don’t already have a daily cookbook that supports your income goal for December – sit down with your manager and create one!

If you do have such a cookbook in place, consider increasing your behavioral targets  this month. You may want to be more aggressive with your targets for things like “referral requests”, “net new conversations,” and “dials to decision makers I have not yet spoken to.”. Work with your manager to adjust the behavior goals in the final month as necessary, in a way that supports your income goal.

Follow through on these four simple action steps, and you’ll be in a much better financial position – and a much better mood – when the New Year arrives.

Happy Holidays from the entire Sandler team!