It’s that time of year again. Aside from all the deadlines, budget reviews, Q4 quotas, performance reviews and business parties you may have already found yourself giving a thought or two to, now’s the time to step back and take a look at what has worked for sales this year, and what needs changing — including your own working process. It can be a little overwhelming to try and do all of this during the holiday season, but really, what’s going to be more effective? A New Year’s resolution to go to the gym more, or one that affects your bottom line? That’s why, as busy as this time of year is, I always do make the time to step back and make some business-related New Year’s resolutions. You’ll need to make your own, based on your business situation, but here are some that I’ve made in the past, that might either be appropriate for you, or at least get your resolutionary juices flowing.
Cut off unprofitable ties. Just like in personal life where we’re taught to cut off toxic people that have no positive input in our lives, the same goes for the professional sphere. Employees who only keep costing you time and money with no effect, or customers that bring little to no value and resources to your company are not what you want to keep around. Now may be the perfect time to let go.
Keep learning. Make a promise to yourself that the next year you’ll find the time in your busy schedule to visit at least one industry-related event, such as a seminar, a fair , a conference or an online course. It’s the best way to stay on top of your game while maintaining old and creating new connections and opportunities. Learning means growing, and when it also adds to your working performance, it’s twice the benefit.
Pipeline management. Your salespeople’s pipeline is only as good as yours is. So first of all, look at your own pipeline of prospects, and think about whether it looks as it should, meaning the promising prospects are the top priority, the less promising come right after, and the dead-end ones are not taking up space at all. Once you set the example, you can help your sales reps manage their own pipelines effectively.
Keep coaching. Needless to say, in order to become a better sales manager, you have to become a better coach. Don’t allow the paperwork to eat away all the time you could spend right there “in the field”, among your team. This may also be a good time to review your coaching techniques, and making sure you’re not just telling everyone what to do. ‘Cause that’s not the right way to go.
Automate. Seriously. That paperwork I’ve mentioned earlier? Those forms you fill in yourself, the manual data input, the e-mail writing, those data analysis you’re doing in endless spreadsheets? Chances are there’s software that can do more, better and in a fraction of the time it takes you.
Get personal. We’re living in a time when sometimes we close so many deals and talk to so many people without really seeing them face-to-face. How about changing that? We all know deep down that a personalized message on social media is better than a cold e-mail, a call holds better options than a message on social media, a video chat holds better options than a call, and a personal meeting will beat all of the above forms of communication. I’m not saying to stop working on your electronic communication techniques. Just keep in mind that being personal goes a long way in sales. Get back out from behind your electronics.
Keep an eye on your sales process. I know you do. But do it better and more frequently. Defining, training and improving the sales process is one of the most important parts of your manager’s job, and it’s also one that needs regular and intensive attention. Listen to the customers, listen to the salespeople, discuss and work on the best strategy to make the sales even smoother and more personalized every day.