Pop the Clutch: How to Kick-Start the First Quarter of 2017
The first quarter of every year finds hotel meeting rooms rocking with sales teams launching their annual kickoff, strategizing innovative ways to reach new goals, fine-tuning their infrastructure and allocating the resources they need to start the year with a great first quarter. Finally, they set targets, often with sky-high anxiety levels for many salespeople, who think, “Will the revenue I expect from my prospect materialize?” Too often, their expectations are based on a wish to win rather than a will to win. Some of the more seasoned sellers may have held back from closing business at the end of 2016 to start 2017 off on the right foot. The impact on their revenue after that is often left to chance.
Kick-starting the new year right requires serious housecleaning of the pipeline to avoid the age-old practice of “pipeline padding” and to understand realistic 2017 revenue expectations. A significant part of the housecleaning process requires extensive qualifying to test and validate opportunities and ensure that resources are neither under- nor over-allocated. The discipline of this validation exercise provides a forum for collaboration among business units, partnerships and coaching and sets a standard for healthy pipeline management for the rest of the year.
To rev up the skillsets of your sales teams, hold formal and informal meetings to refresh contributing members of the sales force on the best practices of leadership, coaching and collaboration. Focus on your foundational framework in the science and art of selling.
How do you “pop the clutch” and really get revenue humming? It starts with qualifying opportunities:
- Build deal teams with differing viewpoints; homogeneous groups won’t see things that a member from another function might see: Has the account manager been with the account too long?
- Establish specific criteria for opportunity analysis: Will this prospect need a customized solution? How are we positioned within the account? What is our competitor’s position?
- Identify customer milestones: What can we achieve? By what day? At what cost? What value proposition will we depend upon to win this opportunity? How will we defend that value in the mind of the customer?
- Develop a plan for routine pipeline maintenance: Is revenue tracking from the opportunity as expected? What hurdles should we anticipate for quarters two and three that might interrupt the revenue we expect from the account?
- Prepare to be flexible in your approach; sometimes, a minor tactical adjustment can encourage a team to refocus their strategy.
Managing pipeline discipline at the start of the year provides a clear direction to reach revenue goals with the right effort, the right resources and the right to celebrate at the end of the year!
About the Author
Tannis is the senior performance development expert at Holden Advisors. She has over 20 years of experience in the design, delivery and implementation of value-centric curricula focused on the cross-functional alignment of sales, marketing and client service and improving performance metrics, relationship practice management and business leadership. Prior to joining Holden Advisors, Tannis spent over 13 years as an internal private consultant to RBC Financial Group, completing long-term engagements with Investor Services and Trust, Global Wealth Management, and Technology and Operations. She is the former vice president of facilitation and development for Holden International.