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10 sales resolutions for 2013

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Ready or not, the New Year is upon us. All of us have set ambitious sales goals for 2013 and have high expectations that they will be met. Realize however, that unless you have made improvements to your sales methods, your results will probably be no different than they were last year.

Therefore, avoid that famous definition of insanity and don’t expect better sales results in 2013 using the same sales methods you used in 2012. Make (and keep) these New Year’s sales resolutions and you’ll be on the right track for achieving your goals this year.

1. Build a sales revenue plan. A sales revenue plan aligns your company’s revenue goals with the required sales pipeline needed each quarter. A detailed target pipeline can then be developed so you know how many opportunities you need at each of your sales stages.

2. Take care of your weak links. Whiteboard your end-to-end sales process and identify the names of the people involved at each stage. Take immediate action on both the people and processes holding you back.

3. Prioritize your investments. Rank the investments you feel are needed to improve your sales engine. Apply a consistent ROI calculation to each as a way to separate the high-impact investments from the low. Also consider the time it will take each investment to generate the expected impact.

4. Establish a sales calendar. Companies that have a defined sales process—and follow it faithfully—outperform those that do not. Develop a basic sales calendar to help you manage your sales process.

5. Plan for setbacks. Not every forecasted deal will close. Rainmakers will sometimes leave your company. New competitors emerge with a game-changing offering. Your biggest customers may slow down their spending with you. Anticipate bad news and build a revenue plan to compensate for it.

6. Be bold to differentiate. Every industry is stacked with deep, viable competitors on every front. Sounding like everyone else is not going to get you noticed and being the cheapest is not the way to high margins. Take bold chances with your marketing to separate your company from the crowd.

7. Break down barriers. Ask any salesperson to name the three biggest obstacles to increasing sales effectiveness and internal issues will be on his list. Find out which internal barriers are holding back sales and take them down.

8. Define expectations. Soft goals and loose targets are guaranteed to result in missed sales plans. Instead, establish monthly, weekly and daily goals aligned with your overall revenue target. Create a sales dashboard to report your performance against your goals. Integrate progress reviews into your sales calendar.

9. Change with the times. The purchasing process happens very differently today than even five years ago. It is buyer-driven and buyer-controlled at every stage in ways many salespeople don’t even realize. If your sales process and sales model haven’t changed but your results have been declining year over year, it’s time to update how you sell.

10. Look long term. The profession of sales is performance-driven and, because of that, a very short-term planning horizon often results. It’s hard for salespeople to plan past the next quarter when they are measured on monthly, weekly or even daily results. Fight this syndrome by defining a forward-looking sales model that can guide daily decision-making. Every sales investment, new hire and project must be executed in the context of a forward-looking model.

This is a list of New Year’s resolutions that, with a little determination and effort, you can keep. It will set you on a path for sales success and help you turn 2013’s sales goals into reality.

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Dan Hudson is the co-founder and president of 3forward and has a B2B sales and sales leadership background of more than 30 years. He can be reached at [email protected].