New Year Tradition: 2019 Sales Resolutions

It’s become an annual tradition for me to offer some sales resolutions for the upcoming year, so my 2019 Sales Resolutions list is here.

Some sales organizations are still frantically clawing for revenue before the current calendar year closes, and I’ll commiserate for a moment with them.

It sucks, doesn’t it? It sucks being you right now. This is what I imagine you must look like right now. 

Now, for a little tough love….

This is pretty much all your fault. You’re scratching and begging for your customers’ money right now because you lost focus earlier in the year. If only you had resolved to do something differently. If only you had read my 2018 Sales Resolutions post on Pipelinersales’s SalesPOP online magazine, which you can read right here. If only….

The good news is 2019 is right around the corner, and you have time to turn over a new leaf. Now is a time of great optimism for many sales organizations (especially the ones who have already hit their number), and generally speaking, opportunities abound and good feelings about our prospects for the coming year come a little more easily than any other time of the year.

But how long does the focus, the optimism, the energy last that comes so naturally at the beginning of the new year? When January is over and the day-after-day reality of selling and working with customers has set in, does it pass? Or does it last a quarter, half a year, or actually never wear off?

As I said in last year’s post, there is something you can do if that January optimism seems to wear off too rapidly. The world’s best salespeople maintain that optimistic focus throughout the year–and so can you. Start by taking a good, hard look at your business pipeline for next year. Put your focus on deals that are in the earliest stages of development. Think about the following with regard to your customers as you go through that early-stage pipeline review:

  • What big, important business outcomes can we help our customer to achieve?
  • What actions, if any, has that customer taken to achieve that really important outcome? If none, what action would we propose they take? If they’re on the wrong path, what can we do to help them find a better way to achieve the outcome they want?
  • What needs have we uncovered or need to be developed to justify and drive the action we want the customer to take next?
  • What will our conversation sound like… what will our questions be, what data will we share when we earn the right to meet with the customer?

Consider when these questions would be most useful to you. Is it only at the start of the New Year that one should consider these questions, or is there value in taking this approach with early-stage opportunities throughout the year?

You decide. If you’d like to operate more like the way that great sales organizations do, then consider how you and your sales team can change. How will your sales meetings change? How will you adjust your sales cadence, your key metrics, or the resources you apply to early-stage opportunities?

My hope is that the optimism and focus that sales organizations have at the start of every sales year will be sustained throughout the year. Sales organizations that keep their focus on the early, developing opportunities in their business pipeline are simply more effective than those that do not. And yet (*sigh*), I still see sales organizations that allow wild swings in focus throughout the year, setting aside customer focus, sales effectiveness, and the need to do things the right way in favor of an immediate buck at the close of a quarter or year.

It’s sad, but I understand why some sales organizations can’t stay committed to an effective cadence that ensures focus on the early stages of the business pipeline. They don’t do it because it’s difficult. It’s so difficult that someone should write a book about it. Ahem.

Let’s face it, people, the things that separate great performers and performances from average ones tend to be difficult. So your first choice in the New Year will be, “Will I take the easy path and perform just like everyone else, or will I choose the right path, even if it’s difficult to follow the path and finish the journey?” By now, you can probably guess which choice I would recommend that you make.

There is more to this choice than simply, “Will I do the difficult work or not?” The really critical question to ask is, “What am I going to do differently to ensure 2019 Sales results exceed expectations? What am I going to change in the New Year to ensure that results improve, productivity increases, and I / my sales team mature(s) and grow(s) the way I / we should?”

What are you going to do differently to ensure 2019 Sales results exceed expectations?