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Use Holiday Time to Plan for 2017's Sales Year

November 16, 2016

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, Telemarketing Software Contributor

As 2016 winds to an end, sales departments will have an opportunity during the slow holiday season to do a little “housecleaning.” Now’s the time to plan for tasks you may not ordinarily have time for: training, planning, creating sales enablement materials, updating databases and setting goals for next year. Chances are good managers will need to turn in budgets soon, so it’s worth taking some time to determine what worked this year and what didn’t, and create a plan to ensure that next year is better.

In a recent blog post, Ken Thoreson of Acumen Management Group presented a “quick read list” and a set of recommended actions for any executive or sales leader as they plan for 2017. He begins by recommending that sales managers prepare a “personal development plan” for each member of the team that can help them focus on the things they need to do to enhance productivity in the coming year.

Another way to prepare for the coming year is to think about your current sales compensation plan. Did it achieve your goals for 2016? In 2017, are the strategic goals of the company changing? Should you, as a manager, consider altering the sales compensation plan to help achieve the new goals? Compensation plans often fall victim to “we’ve always done it this way” rules, and many organizations may be keeping plans in place that simply aren’t working for the organization and the sales team in a changed economy.

It’s also time to adjust your head count to ensure you are prepared for the coming year, according to Thoreson.

“Do you have a recruiting marketing plan in place? How strong is your interviewing process and skills?” he asked.

If it’s taking too long to recruit, hire, onboard and train new sales personnel, maybe it’s time to simplify and streamline the process, and create a more customized checklist of requirements to help cut down on the time it takes to hire suitable candidates.

Once you’ve evaluated the current sales workforce and prepared to add to it with any new hires, it’s a good time to ensure that the sales team’s selling materials are up-to-date and that databases and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions are properly integrated, purged of old or irrelevant data and easy to use.  Rather than wait for the marketing department to prepare sales enablement materials that may (or may not) be helpful, be sure to liaise with the people creating the materials in advance. Your sales team members likely have a number of good ideas about what they need and don’t need for the coming year.

Finally, noted Thoreson, consider launching the new sales year with a special event with a “theme” to make it memorable and help the new plans and new knowledge to “stick.”

“You need to have a theme for the year: make it fun, motivational and educational,” he wrote. “Set the tone for your team at your kick off meeting.” 

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