Getting Your Small Business Sales Operation Ready for End-of-Year

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The end of the year is a great opportunity to clean up and organize your sales operations. Even if business is slow, the phone’s not ringing, and your key customer contacts are out of the office for the holidays, there are a variety of ways to get your business on track for bigger sales and better results in the new year to come.

Start with a few simple strategies and to-do items:

Re-evaluate and re-rank your long-range sales leads.

Nurturing B2B sales leads takes time, and just because it’s been a few months since you started the process, or even if the sales process has stalled, that doesn’t mean you should give up on those leads. Take a look at some of your longer-range/longer-term leads and see what sort of progress you’ve made with them over the past calendar year. If progress with some of your long-term prospects have stalled out, it might be worth reconsidering how you approach them in the next year.

Now might be a good time to invest your time and resources into a different sales lead, or you can redouble your efforts into finding out what that particular prospect is looking for and delivering it to them. Or you might want to consider cutting off some of those lower-potential sales leads that are unlikely to pan out; one of the worst things you can do is sink too much time and energy into a long-range sales lead that never develops into an actual client. It can tie up valuable company resources that could otherwise be used for more useful initiatives in your business. Don’t be afraid to be brutally honest in re-ranking your sales leads so you can start the new year with a more up-to-date database.

Check in with prospects one more time before the end of the year.

Do you have any special end-of-the-year promotions that you can offer them? Are there any final pitches you can make before the year’s end? The lead up to the holidays can be a great time to explore new business opportunities. It’s always good to make one last impression on a potential client before people go on winter vacations or take some time off to observe the holidays. If you’re the last person they talk to before they leave the office, you might be the first person they think of in the new year. It’s important that they know you haven’t forgotten about them.

Evaluate performance on your sales goals, and consider adjusting your sales goals for Q1 of next year.

Take a look at the sales goals you established for yourself over the course of the previous year. Were they realistic? Did you fall drastically short of your goals or were they too easy to reach? Find the “sweet spot” between these two ends of the spectrum. Giving yourself reasonable sales benchmarks to achieve throughout the calendar year will help keep your business on track.

Sales goals are a great motivating tool for your employees. It helps break up the year and keeps everyone on the team focused on the common goal for the company. Examine which elements of your company performed the best this year and see where you can improve on them in the next year. Identify the parts of your company that are underachieving and see how you can boost their performance moving forward. Sometimes getting even a little better output from one part of your business can make a big difference on your bottom line.

Figure out which of your marketing efforts worked best, and which didn’t.

Did you have any big successes or disappointments from your marketing efforts? Reallocate your marketing budget for next year accordingly. Did the direct mail campaign drum up a host of new sales leads? Did the PPC ads or social media sponsored posts lead to an increase in new customers? Did the digital marketing firm you hired generate new leads and help drive sales? Ask yourself these types of questions and be prepared to make some changes if you need to.

It’s possible that your marketing strategy for the year didn’t make enough of an impact on sales and your money could be better spent elsewhere. Conversely, you may have seen a major spike in sales from your marketing efforts and it could be worth investing more of your budget in this specific area next year.

Set big goals for the next year.

Beyond the question of setting goals for specific sales numbers, it’s important to use this time to take a step back and think about what strategic visions you want your business to accomplish.

What new things do you want to try? What new places can you market your business? Which new markets could you enter or expand in?

Now is the time to think big and envision some ambitious progress for your business. The companies that find ways to innovate usually have the most success capturing – and maintaining – the attention of their market. If you’re not actively trying to develop new products, implement better systems and refine your processes, you can bet that your competition is. Customers are almost always expecting some new changes with each passing year. It’s always impressive and exciting when you can roll out a new product line or offer a new service in the new year. Look back at what you’ve accomplished this year and see how you can build on that momentum moving forward.

Regardless of how you go about it, it’s worth trying to harness some of the excitement and momentum of the new year and use it to bolster your sales. Getting the first quarter started off on the right foot can be pivotal in getting the best performance from your business for the rest of the year.

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