How are you going to start the year? Are you going to be able to start it strong? Let me walk you through 10 things to help you end this year strong so you can begin next year off on the right foot. Often, people pack it in and say, “well, that’s it, I’m done” or “I’ll come back and deal with it after the first year.” Don’t make those mistakes, because you’ll wind up wasting the first couple weeks of the year. I talk a lot about how you make the most of each week by planning on Sunday. You have to do the same thing with the year. That’s one of the big reasons why I talk about planning on a weekly basis in my book, A Mind for Sales. Here, I’m talking about planning on a yearly basis. So, how do you start your year strong?

1. Pre-Schedule Meetings

You want to make sure that from day one, you have meetings set up. Don’t sit there and allow yourself to come into the new year and wait to prospect until the first week. If you wait until then, you won’t have meetings set up until the second or third week. You’ve already lost a couple of weeks. December – right now – is the time to be prospecting, so you have meetings set up for January.

There may be some business review with major accounts, and there may be other meetings that you want to do; get them all scheduled on the calendar now. That sets you up to actively sell the first week of January.

2. Build on Past Year’s Sales

Take a look at all of this year’s customers and ask yourself where you’re going to find additional business in early 2021. This is absolutely key. Jump on this and jump on it quick!

This is a great strategy, because once you get off to a fast start, the momentum will help you continue. That will keep you going. Take time right now to identify those accounts that you’re going to target early on and figure out how this year’s activity will bring sales early in 2021.

3. Don’t Stop Prospecting

One of the reasons why I think people wind up with an empty calendar is because they stop prospecting in December. Don’t stop prospecting. Every month of the year, you have to allocate “x” amount of time every day and every week to prospecting, especially in December. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself on the short end. Since January is typically a scramble month, it will just put you behind for the first quarter.

4. Evaluate Your Funnel

Look all the way through your sales pipeline and find where it’s plugged up. Where can you move? What do you need to shift around? Identify those opportunities where you can create another relationship. However, in order to get there, you need to tie in with something else.

Now is the time to begin planning those bigger moves. It’s not too early. If you start planning them now, you’ll be in a better position to take advantage of them in the first quarter. Even further, it will pay out for you all next calendar year.

5. Leverage the Calendar

What’s the difference between evaluating and leveraging your calendar? What do I mean by leveraging the calendar to your advantage? For example, encouraging people to get sales in early, because if you wait, there may not be any supply left.

From a shipping standpoint, you may not have as many weeks, so you want to play a little bit of urgency and importance in buying now. You choose how you want to say/play it that emphasizes why it’s important to get the orders in now. Typically, in the month of January, everybody starts gearing up in the second, third, fourth week as orders start coming in, and things back up. That’s why it’s important to leverage your calendar now so that you’re ready to close sales the first couple days of January. That’s the best way to bring in business in the new year.

6. Create Your Influencer List

I love having people who can help me and in turn, I can help them. This is why I create a list of those I can influence and vice versa. It’s made up of people who I have a great deal of respect for, and hopefully they have a great deal of respect for me.

These are people I want to create relationships with and share ongoing conversations. December is the time that I reach out to these people and have conversations. We have meaningful conversations, because typically, these people are strategic and bright minded. It’s amazing how often they’ll want to get together for breakfast, lunch, coffee, or whatever. Due to the pandemic, we may not be able to do that but hey, it’s possible to meet virtually during the last week or two of the year. Doing so leads to an opportunity early next year. Leverage your influences list this time of year. December is the month to have those in-depth conversations with those that can help you.

7. Know Your Goals

How do you know if you’re going to get somewhere if you don’t even know where you’re going? You don’t. Set your goals now and break them down accordingly. This involves having big opportunity customers and smaller opportunity customers. Many times, I see salespeople sit there with their goals and say, “I’ve got all year to land this customer,” but then, they wind up putting it off, putting it off, and putting it off. Since the goal is such a “big gorilla” customer, huge opportunity, it never gets closed.

Know your goals and know how you’re going to spend your time in order to reach them. This includes figuring out what your customers are going to get, what to focus on and when – what time of the month, quarter, etc. That way you don’t back yourself up.

8. Set Daily / Weekly January Goals

If you can get January off to a fast start, you’ll be amazed at how much more comfortable you’ll be for the rest of the year. Also, it’s amazing how much more you’re able to get done when you get into the groove right off the bat.

It’s just simply getting into the routine. It’s like going to the gym. If you only go to the gym once or twice, it doesn’t mean anything; however, if you go to the gym every day for three, four, or five weeks, suddenly it becomes a habit, and you’ll continue to go to the gym. It becomes part of your DNA. In the month of January, I want you to set daily and weekly goals. This will get you into a rhythm, to get you going. Don’t just sit there and say, “oh, it’s just the first week of the year. If I don’t get this until the second week, it’s ok.” No, it’s not ok.

9. Increase Communication

Work hard to increase the conversations with your customers during the month of December. Don’t sit there and back off. That can easily happen because of the lack of meetings, lack of routine. Yet, as a result, people are a little more receptive to read things and have conversations.

Increase your level of connection with prospects, customers, people in your funnel – no matter where they are. – during the month of December. This will build opportunities that you can start to capitalize on either at the end of the year or beginning of January.

10. Sell Speed / Urgency

I can’t stress speed and urgency enough. How does this vary? How is it different from everything else? A lot of times, we hear “call me back after the first of the year” in November, December. This is a common excuse. For all kinds of reasons, we need to work around that. If you just accept that response, they sit there and say, “well, ok, call me back.”

Then, the first of the year comes and they say, “give me a buzz at the end of January.” No. You want to sell speed, because when you get that order, they will understand how what you sell fits into everything else the customers are doing. They can’t get to everything else they’re doing until they buy from you, so you want to sell speed and urgency.

There are the ten things you need to do to start the year strong. I could go on and on for hours and share more but we’re out of time. Check out the Sales Hunter University. Check out my book, A Mind for Sales.

Copyright 2020, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter” Sales Motivation Blog.  Mark Hunter is the author of A Mind for Sales and High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results.


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