A New Year’s Checklist for Sales Leaders

This is the first of a series on Company Kick Off Planning.

Image Credit: www.superdream.co.uk

The Holiday Season, and New Year’s in particular, has never been a favorite holiday for anyone in Sales. For many companies, the last two weeks in December are more about contract redlines and tense discount discussions than Santa’s Reindeer or Ringing in the New Year. So now that the presents are unwrapped, the contracts are signed, and the batteries have been recharged, I suggest kicking off the year with a Sales Leader’s New Year’s Checklist.

Checklists work well because they’re repeatable and quick, since they’re meant to be completed within a few days. The checklist below is short, simple, actionable and helps round out the prior year so you can refocus on the next year’s opportunities.

While this Checklist was created for sales leaders, it’s applicable for anyone in sales as well as early stage founders.

The New Year’s Sales Checklist

  1. Track slipped deals. Deals that didn’t close need to be tracked and closed within the first three weeks of the quarter. This sets up another deadline to work towards.
  2. Thank new customers. Executives Buyers, Champions, and even Procurement/Legal contacts who are new Logo Customers should be recognized. Everyone (especially customers) appreciates a sincere thank you for the partnership.
  3. Recognize star performers. Salespeople love recognition and praise, and your star performers should get it first.
  4. Review high level hits and misses for the year. A big picture review to continuously learn and progress. List three of the team’s best accomplishments and three things that can be improved.
  5. Send out a “Quarter/Year in Review” email. The email should include new logo customers, competitive wins, and team accomplishments. Keep it about the team (not individuals) and make sure to recognize everyone that supported the sales efforts.
  6. Mingle with folks outside of sales. It’s a great chance to both listen for feedback and also share your perspectives (past year, next year, opportunities and challenges).
  7. Do a win/loss analysis. This often gets overlooked and should be done while it’s fresh with the sales team involved in the deals. Consider outsourcing this for a broader analysis if you don’t have enough bandwidth.
  8. Assess your team. Stack rank everyone in the sales team (top to bottom). Who are your top and bottom performers? Who needs more coaching? Who might be at risk? Who isn’t a fit? This is a great exercise to force rank and evaluate your team.
  9. Discuss new strategic customers with the Customer Success team. In addition to a standard hand-off, I recommend meeting with your customer success leader to ensure your most strategic new customers get extra attention and focus.
  10. Write down your personal and professional goals for the new year/quarter. This is separate from sales and company planning. Setting and meeting your own goals and career path are equally important to job satisfaction.

Using this checklist ensures nothing falls through the cracks and helps with items that are often overlooked in the quarter. If you’re on an off-cycle fiscal year then keep closing and bookmark this for later use.

Next up in the Company Planning Process series:

  • Tracking and interpreting the prior year results that matter, and
  • Picking the right metrics to measure and building a strategic plan.

Congratulations finishing out the year, and good luck planning your success in 2017!