As a leader of a sales organization, your fiscal year end could be rather hectic. For Sugar Market, previously Salesfusion, that was Q4 of the calendar year. I’ve only been with Sugar Market since January 2014 so I hadn’t had the chance to experience a Q4 in 2013. I didn’t expect it to be any different than my previous experiences in other businesses.
In the midst of trying to close out the year, you begin planning for a new one. You likely discuss next year’s budget and goals a few months prior to year end. It’s shocking that most organizations never finalize this process by the end of the year. With that, I took the time over the holidays to reflect on all that we’ve accomplished in 2014 and what we want to achieve in 2015. I came up with the following common themes that, wherever you may be in your fiscal year, I recommend you consider.
- Celebrate past years accomplishments: people equate (rightly so) accomplishments in a sales organization with hitting their annual targets/quotas. Some, unfortunately, view it as the only measure of success. That is the one key metric of any good sales organization but one must not forget other accomplishments, individually and team-wide. As you come into the new year, make sure to recognize the team and those that have made it possible to succeed. Our sales culture is highly focused on performance, but we don’t forget to play hard as well. We start our year with our annual Sales Kick-Off during the month of February. We use that event to recognize accomplishments of both individuals and the entire team.
- Reflect on past year’s data: recalibrate your direction with data from previous years. If you are like me, you love collecting and dissecting sales data. I ask my team to religiously collect as much data as they can in our CRM. This helps me, my leaders and our company extrapolate the appropriate trends that we see in the marketplace and reset some of our next year’s priorities. Reflecting in that way gives you a solid, realistic base to set budget and performance expectations.
- Team structure: this may not apply to every organization but in my experience, you’ll find that your role and responsibilities have evolved over the past year. This is good. Change is healthy, both for keeping up the level of interest among your team and in your job, and realigning to new priorities. In my team I look at two key elements in every hire: raw intellect and attitude. I can teach anyone, practically anything, if they have these characteristics. The attitude also lends itself to a cultural fit, which I feel is critical in every organization. People with these characteristics look for change, embrace it for the sake of the their personal, the team’s and the company’s growth.
- Your process: I’ll start by saying that process is key to any sales organization’s success. Sales is no longer just an art of making friends; it’s also a science. As previously stated, I Iove data. We learn a lot about our business through data analysis. We couldn’t do that without first defining our process. The work to define the process is never finished. At Sugar Market, we first defined our sales process, then looked at what sales enablement technologies fit the process. We continue to refine it as we learn more about how we engage with prospects and win (or lose) sales opportunities. As you enter the new year, and reflect on past year’s data, add process to that reflection and use it as an opportunity to improve it as needed.
So, though this list isn’t exhaustive , it definitely helps me in reminding myself what we’ve done and how we should approach 2015. There is lots of work ahead of us but looking back, I believe, makes you, your team and the entire company set for success.