We’re closing out our ‘best of 2016’ ten-day blog series for sales professionals with a look at predictions and advice from top influencers for the coming year. The list includes end-of-year tips, best practices for starting 2017 on the right foot, as well as ideas about what to expect next in sales and how to adapt to the coming changes. (P.s. Don’t miss your chance to win a FREE sales book bundle. Details in yesterday’s post.)
Here are five takeaways from top influencers across the industry to make 2017 your best year EVER.
As the new year rapidly approaches, it’s time to consider the annual sales kickoff meeting. Is it just a box on a checklist? Or the foundation of a well-honed strategic effort that will continue to propel your sales organization to achieve your objectives for the rest of 2017?
Sales transformation expert, Mike Kunkle, urges sales leaders to seriously consider this question:
“Is your sales kickoff really adding value to your overall sales strategy?”
– Mike Kunkle, Senior Director of Sales Readiness Consulting at Brainshark Tweet this!
If the honest answer is no, maybe or I’m not sure, it’s time to “step off the insanity treadmill” and take a different approach to your sales kickoff this year, Kunkle advises. In a recent blog post on Brainshark, he provides a complete guide to redesigning the most important event of the year for your sales team. Start by aligning your strategy to 2017 goals. Map this strategy to your execution plan for the rest of the year to get buy-in from sales managers.
Too many salespeople and sales managers spend the final weeks of the year focused on closing deals to achieve annual quotas and maximize compensation. Unfortunately, this tends to drain their sales pipeline for the beginning of 2017. While sales teams can survive on leftover opportunities in January, many face weak performance in February and March.
To counter the early-2017 slump, Ken Thoreson, a sales management thought leader, author, and consultant, offers step-by-step advice on how to prepare your sales pipeline now for a successful new year. Suggestions range from refining your ideal client profile to building up a solid reserve of customizable outreach materials.
Everyone in B2B sales has the Dreamforce conference marked on their calendar months in advance (it starts on Nov. 6, in case you’re wondering), but there are plenty of other important gatherings for salespeople to learn, network, and drum up new business next year.
The folks at Peak Sales Recruiting put together a list of must-attend sales conferences for 2017, from the SalesHacker Revenue Summit in San Francisco to the B2B LeadsCon in New York City.
PointClear CEO Dan McDade predicts that 2017 will mark the beginning of the “era of accountability” (Tweet this!) for sales and marketing teams, and that it’s time to adapt to the new paradigm. According to CSO Insights, just 42 percent of marketing generated leads are accepted and worked by sales, less than 60 percent of reps make quota, and the top sales execution challenge is a lack of qualified leads. Competitive organizations will have to do better in the coming year.
For McDade, accountability ultimately boils down to an account-based approach, in which sales and marketing work together to reach out to decision makers in a highly personalized way that is well coordinated to move the account through the pipeline. Named a Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencer by Top Sales World and included in the Sales Lead Management Association’s list of 50 Most Influential People five years in a row, McDade argues that in 2017 “marketing and sales must account for their activity, accept responsibility for revenue results and disclose results in a transparent way.”
Focusing on responsibility means helping others reach their goals through purposeful, sustainable action, rather than assigning punishment or blame, and will be crucial for sales teams to thrive in the new era of accountability.
Finally, the end of the year offers a perfect time for people to reflect on what’s important and what can be left behind as we move forward. This applies not only to your personal life, but your sales life too, as veteran sales trainer and author Bill Caskey points out in his recent Advanced Selling podcast on “how to de-clutter and refocus for 2017.”
If your sales life feels like it’s too crowded, chaotic, or unintentional (Are you cold-calling people just for the sake of staying busy? Are you prospecting aimlessly without a guided strategy?), check out Caskey’s best practices and advice to help you engage buyers in the most effective way as you move into the new year.