2019 is almost over. To start 2020 off strong, it’s time to start thinking about Q1!
Being intentional about your prep work means that you’ll have a head start to the quarter and will be poised for success. You’ll allow yourself to be top of mind for prospects in the new year and be on your way to meet your Q1 quota.
Many salespeople worry that their territory will change in the new year. While that is a risk, if you do your prep work well you will have gained skills and knowledge that will be helpful regardless of changes.
1. Break down what you’ll need to do to meet your sales target.
Your quota for 2020 may be higher than your 2019 quota. That can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be paralyzing. Calculate exactly what you need to do to reach your number: How many calls do you need to make? How many meetings should you set up? And how many opportunities do you need to generate?
It’s helpful to further break these numbers down to come up with daily, weekly, and monthly targets. By breaking up a large goal into smaller chunks, you can enter the new year knowing exactly what you need to do.
2. Continue to nurture leads that you would like to close in Q1 and set appointments for the new year.
Look ahead to Q1 by identifying prospects that you want to close in that quarter. Include viable prospects who look like they aren’t going to close in Q4.
To stay top of mind for these prospects, reach out now by wishing the prospect a happy holiday and reminding them that you’re here to talk when they’re ready. As with all follow-up communications, you should provide information of real value.
Ask if they’re willing to set up a call or appointment for Q1. If you can get a firm appointment that’s ideal, but even if the prospect can’t commit you’ve still put your name back into the prospect’s mind.
3. Analyze your prospecting methods and where you’ve gotten your best prospects in 2019.
Evaluate your 2019 record with a focus on your prospecting methods. Of the deals that you ended up closing, are there common factors among the customers? How did you initially identify these prospects?
This exercise will help you determine what prospecting tools have been most effective for you. Plan to do more of what works in 2020. Conversely, you can also analyze commonalities among prospects that didn’t convert to customers.
4. Conduct preliminary research into new prospects and systemize your prospect-tracking methods.
There’s no need to wait until January to start preparing your pipeline. Using the tools you’ve identified as most effective, get to work on finding new prospects now.
There are also steps you can take to systemize how you research and keep track of prospects. If you haven’t already set Google Alerts for all of your prospects and existing customers, do so now. Create tags in your inbox to keep track of the alerts. On your social media accounts, make private lists of prospects and existing customers. You can create sub-lists for different verticals if it makes sense to you. The goal is to make your prospect research more efficient in 2020.
5. Review your pipeline to determine which prospects should be prioritized in Q1.
Sales success is oftentimes determined by a salesperson’s ability to manage time appropriately. Go through all of the prospects in your pipeline and assess their readiness to make a purchase and which product they’re ready to buy. Those are the accounts you need to prioritize out of the gate.
You can also evaluate how engaged the prospect has been with you so far. If it’s been a challenge to get time with them and they haven’t made it clear that finding a new solution is a top priority, take that into account and be honest with yourself about the most viable prospects.
6. Connect with your existing customers. Talk about their goals for the new year and possible referrals.
As always, your existing customers remain important assets. Make sure to call all of your customers before the end of the year. Use the opportunity to catch up with them, thank them for their business, and find out more about their goals for 2020. This conversation will hopefully inspire opportunities for upselling and cross-selling. Start to lay the groundwork for it now, and schedule a meeting if they’re open to it.
You should also ask happy customers about potential referrals. These are oftentimes the most promising prospects!
7. Review your marketing collateral.
If you’re being honest with yourself, it’s probably been quite some time since you’ve looked at your marketing materials. Use any December lulls to review your marketing collateral, check to make sure you’re up-to-date, and evaluate how content can best be deployed at different points in the sales cycle.
In reviewing the materials, you might find that there are some mismatches between the content and what you’re hearing from customers. Consider tactfully providing suggestions for improvement to the marketing team.
8. Identify what you want to learn in 2020 and start working on skills development.
You may plan to learn a new skill as a New Year’s resolution—but there’s no need to wait until January to get started. Determine what you want to learn and get to work. Ask your supervisor and colleagues for suggestions on what resources to pursue in your skill development. Making a concrete plan for learning a new skill increases the likelihood that you’ll follow through with it.
If you are concerned about being assigned to a new territory in January, this is a particularly good use of your time in December. Learning new skills will help you regardless of your territory assignment.
December can be a time of uncertainty and anxiety for sales professionals. You may feel like you’re just waiting out the clock. Yet the last few weeks are a great opportunity for learning, self-evaluation, and preparation. By making good use of the final weeks of 2020, you can begin Q1 on a strong footing.