Blocks with the words act tomorrow and today on it with a hand turning tomorrow into today

December is a Time for Action

Late December is a time for reflection. Early December is a time for ACTION.  

Often in late Q4 there is a huge push to close business.  The reasons vary.  Low performers are trying to reach their revenue goals, some are trying to save their job. Top performers are putting frosting on their revenue cake because they have already attained their goal.  Do what you must. 

This blog is about impacting revenue in 2023. 

I am asking you to think about next year; more specifically what you can do right now to impact revenue in 2023.  I have three tasks for you.  They are simple and fundamental.  They are challenging for most senior executives, yet highly impactful. 

The actions you will take must be collaborative, but I identified who owns action.  As a senior executive you cannot expect the salespeople to know how to do all of these fundamentals themselves.  Together, you will build a super simple plan to impact your revenue forecast.  

  1. Build a List Targets Strategic that look alike. (Sales Leader)
  2. Own your calendar and your mindset. (Salesperson)
  3. The company’s responsibilities.  (CEO / President)

The balance of this blog defines the actions you and your team should take.  It helps you think about the tasks differently and the actions that are necessary.  

One:  You, the Sales Leader, cannot hit the target unless you identify it. 

Sales leaders and sales managers need to make sure each salesperson has a list of the companies that they should be calling on.  Not a list from a “book of lists” or a chamber of commerce directory.  A curated list of ideal prospect targets that look like, feel like and smell like your current list of great customers.  

It is your responsibility as a sales leader to help the salesperson build their own list.  You may have territories.  You may have unique niches.  Make this simple for the salespeople by looking at who is buying from you now.  These companies are your models for the list.  

I call them strategic because strategic just means you thought about the content of the list and your have clear reasons for them.  

How big is the list?  Big enough that they do not run out of targets for the next quarter. Sometimes this is 50; other times it is 500.   The list needs to be definitive & practical. The company can market to thousands of targets, but reps cannot sell to thousands.  

Sit with the salespeople collaborate on the list.  Help them understand why they have the list and they should be able to add to the list.  

Lastly, the list should be tangible.  The reps should be able to pull the list out and review it.  Every top performer I have met and worked with during my career had a list they could pull out and show me.  Call it old school, but it works. 

The year 2023 with an arrow escalating upwards on a pink background

Two:  Salespeople, your greatest asset is your time.  Respect it.  Own it.

I believe there are three keys to managing and protecting your ability to be successful as a seller.  

  1. Time Blocking.
  2. Manage Your Personal Pipeline
  3. Monitor the Metrics that get you to your Goal.

Time blocking for what makes you money.  Prospecting.  The time you make appointments with prospects and customers.  Make appointments with yourself every day to do outbound activity.  Phone calls.  Email Outreach. Phone Calls.  60-minute blocks.  Have your list or CRM open and your other technology off.  Do the work.  Do NOT let other people distract you.  Be selfish with your time.  

Your pipeline is the visualization of how you make money.  If your pipeline does not have new projects being added each week and movement of deals from stage to stage or out of the pipeline, you do not have a healthy pipeline.  Don’t wait for the sales manager to ask about the pipeline, manage it yourself and ask for help when you get stuck. 

What are the things that you do every day/week that move the needle?  If your sales manager is worth the overhead, he/she is giving you the metrics that they care about and that should drive revenue.  It comes down to outbound activity.  

Outbound activity is not hitting the send button in your email app.  It is about using the telephone.  Cold calling is not dead, you might not be good at it, it works.  In fact, it works better today than it did a few years ago because far fewer people are integrating it into their outbound activity.  Call me and I might be able to give you a tip on having fun with cold calls! 

Three:  Senior executives, you have responsibilities for sales success. 

The sales organization is not independent.  To create an high-performing sales team the sellers require your help.  Here the basics:

  • Clarity.  The company has to tee up the ball and identify the direction you want them to go.  Is the company selling a premium product at a premium price?  There must be alignment of your marketing message, sales collateral and how you teach the reps to talk about your offerings. This must be consistent.
  • Give them the time to sell.  The sellers cannot be mired in administrative crap that does not move the needle.  Sales meetings – sure if your sales manager is providing value.  Coaching sessions, absolutely.  No customer service duties.  
  • Great Sales Management.  Great means they hold the reps accountable.  Expectations are set.  Metrics are defined and agreed upon. Every month accountability occurs.  Coaching is the other element.  Sales managers need to debrief calls and meetings.  They should be spending 50% of their time coaching deals, talking about strategy, pre-call planning and role-plays.  Top performers love accountability because it just validates what they are doing.  
  • Compensation Plan.  The comp plan must align with what you want the reps to accomplish.  If you want higher margins, don’t pay the reps on units sold.  Their commissions must be tied to revenue and or gross profit.  If you want the sellers to open new accounts, provide higher commissions on new business acquired.  
  • Culture that Respects Salespeople.  Sales culture is often overlooked.  I had a client once who had animosity for salespeople.  He just didn’t respect us.  When we reviewed the strengths, weaknesses and performance of the salespeople, I uncovered that all six of the salespeople sucked.  When I told him that this was his fault, he was not happy.  However, he tolerated mediocrity and in his case for ten years.  Salespeople need to do their job.  Hold them accountable.  Top performers will not work for an organization that accepts mediocrity.  

These ideas are simple and fundamental.  However, they can be difficult to implement.  There is plenty of help out there.  If your sales managers need coaching, let’s have a conversation.