By Mark Synek, Sales Benchmark Index (SBI)

sales training workshopsSales Leaders hate Q4. Why? They have to get ready for the new fiscal year. And they have to do it while trying to end the current year strong.

Meet Jim Welch. Jim is the Senior Vice President of North American Sales and Field Operations at Motorola Solutions. I recently asked Jim how he prepares for the new year. He responded with 8 tips. We’ll examine 4 of them in detail here.

Here is some of Jim Welch’s insight:

Tip #1: Get in the field
“Planning for next year from the halls of headquarters can be dangerous. You start to believe your own BS” Jim says. You have to get out with your team and take a bottoms up approach. Don’t assess which initiatives to fund and deploy in a bubble. Get feedback from the front lines. Salespeople love to tell you what they need to be more successful. The closer the new year gets, the harder it is to find time for this. New year planning gets in the way. Schedule it now.

When you are in the field, use time wisely. Resist the urge to give speeches to the team in the local branch. Instead, get in the car with a rep. Go see a prospect. Visit a customer. Ask then how your company is doing. Watch the rep work – is he using your sales process? Did he do pre-call planning, or is he winging it?

Tip #2: It’s not just about the numbers
What goals other than revenue have you set for your team? In the new year you will be hiring people. You’ll be training. You will pilot new initiatives. You have people who expect to be promoted. New and updated products have to be rolled out. Reserve time to think about the non-financial aspects of planning that ultimately drive revenue.

Tip #3: Communicate expectations
As early as possible, communicate broadly the goals that drove your plan. Make sure the organization’s goals are understood throughout the different sales teams. Develop a communications plan. It should include dates, topics, and the method of communication to be used. It should also include who will communicate messages, and who the intended audience is. Why bother creating a communications plan? You will get busy. Without a plan, competing initiatives will get in the way of communicating. You and your team will forget to do it.

Tip #4: Have a Plan B
What milestones will indicate if your plan is on track? What’s your back-up plan if the milestones indicate lagging or superior performance? Figure this out before the year starts. Making decisions cold in the middle of a potential crisis is challenging. New year planning is like trying to predict the future. Whatever happens in the New Year, it’s a safe bet it will hold some surprises. A back-up plan will help you if you’re caught off guard by unanticipated developments.

I hope Jim Welch’s tips made you think about your new year’s planning. For the complete list of all 8 tips, register for SBI’s Sales & Marketing Research Review. 

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