Hopefully you are closing the year out strong. Even if you are coming up a bit short, there’s one thing I do know. If you have a good sales team, they are leaving nothing on the table. They won’t go home until 11:59 on December 31. They’re going to do everything they can to hit the plan, or exceed it.
(If they aren’t — you need a new VP of Sales).
Then January 2 will come, and the team will be exhausted, at least the managers will be. I don’t mean physically. They will rest up over the holiday. But the fact that the Closed/Won dials in Salesforce will roll all the way back to $0 for the year on Jan 1 … that’s tough. Oh man. Whatever great work the sales team did in 2019 will be 100% behind them on Jan 2. It all starts all over again from scratch. Just harder. A higher bar. A bigger plan.
So your job is to help.
What are some things you can do that are actionable? A few ideas:
- Hire dedicated sales ops. Many of you will have little to no dedicated help in sales operations. Who’s making sure the reps have the right collateral? Getting routing the right leads? Are being trained properly? Are being paid properly? If that’s you, or your VP of Sales, or even your VP of Marketing … that’s a bad use of time. Hire a director+ of sales ops to take the administrative side of sales off the plate of folks that should opening and closing.
- Invest in training and onboarding. Sales teams often do the worst investment in onboarding of almost any function. They throw new reps in the mix, give them a ramp up period, but training usually is weak. Do the opposite. Invest heavily in training your reps. Build a “bible” and update it quarterly. Make it at least an 8-part course. If you force yourself to build an 8-step new rep training course, that alone will likely be 8x better than what you do today.
- Add in more SDRs, BDRs, etc. If you haven’t done this yet, specialize more next year. This will take some of the pressure off the sales team. Hire more folks to acquire, manage and qualify leads for your reps. Let your closers be closers.
- Have sane quotas for 2020. Make sure the majority of your reps can hit quota. If they can’t, something’s wrong. No one can succeed when they know they are set up for failure.
- Invest in optimizing lead routing, scoring and management. Sales ops can sometimes do this for you, but make sure each rep gets the type of leads, and the number of leads, most optimized for them. Some reps can handle more leads than others. Some follow up more quickly. Some are better at SMBs, vs. mid-market. Optimize this. You’ll get a 20% lift just doing this.
- Cut anyone that isn’t cutting it. Hopefully, this isn’t a lot of folks. Firing tons of sales reps each year only works in the movies. But don’t waste leads. You have to put your precious leads in the hands of reps that can actually close them. Don’t carry perennial poor performers into 2020. Instead, just give those leads to better performers. Watch magic happen. As more of those leads close.
- Get out on the road more as CEO. We’ve discussed this before, but next year, you gotta do it even more. Try to visit 5 prospects or customers a month. Support the team with your gravitas as CEO. This increases the odds a deal closes, and decreases the odds a customer churns.
- Upgrade alignment between Customer Success, Account Management, and Sales. In SaaS, the date the contract is Adobe Signed isn’t the end of the sales process — it’s basically the start. You have to resell and re-earn the customer every month after that. And net negative churn is the secret to truly scaling. So figure out how to get CS and Sales working more closely. Bring CS into deals earlier. Overlap goals and quotas. Optimize incentive structures for upgrades. Figure out 2 or 3 ways to level up how CS and Sales work together on the 5+ year customer journey.
- Take the team out. Do you take the sales team out when they have a great month? If you don’t. It’s time. Sales is hard. It’s 10 No’s for every Yes — if you are lucky. You are graded every month. Everyone knows how you are doing. It’s not easy to always be under scrutiny. So especially in sales — you have to celebrate the wins.
And a few related thoughts:
- If you sell enterprise, moving to a Jan 31 fiscal year can help a bit. Yes, your salesteam will bring in amazing deals on Dec 31. But it does take a little stress off the holidays to move to a Jan 31 fiscal year. Salesforce did this year, and most folks that sell to the enterprise do the same. It’s not magic. But it lets the team relax a tiny bit more over the holidays. That alone probably makes it worth it.
- Plan your first customer conference, if you haven’t done one yet. This always helps. It helps bringing prospects and customers together. It helps with upsells and account growth. It helps with NPS. It’s one simple thing you can do to help the sales team. More on that here.
- Start doing a weekly webinar every week. This always helps the sales team. How? Their prospects can drive others in the org to the webinar. Not every prospects, and not every stakeholder at every company, wants a 1-on-1 demo or discussion. Some want something in the middle — where they can sit back and watch when they want, and ask questions when they want, and not feel too much 1-on-1 pressure. We call this a webinar 😉 . So do one now. But to really help the salesteam, it has to be every week. So they can tell all their prospects, e.g., “We also have a weekly webinar every Wednesday at 10am you can bring folks to.” If it’s not every week, it’s not a “product” the salesteam can rely on in this fashion. More here.
(note: an updated version of a prior post)