Sales is one of the few professions where we get to start over in the New Year. Regardless how we did in the previous year, we are now reset to zero.
In reality, the concept of starting over in the New Year is more symbolic. The reality is most of what we are doing is a continuation of things that we have been working on for some months.
We have or should have robust pipelines that we have been developing over the past months. We should have deals we are working, moving the customer through their buying cycle.
Symbolically, we can get some leverage out of the New Year, it gives us the opportunity to rethink, reexamine, and reset things. While we should be doing this continuously, we often use the new year as the opportunity to make big shifts and changes.
We know, at an organizational level, we get new goals, new comp plans, perhaps new territories, and, sometimes, new strategies. Those become almost rote.
But how can we leverage the opportunity the New Year brings to us? Some thoughts:
- Individually and organizationally, what are the things we should be stopping? We have a tendency of adding on and doing more. At some point that breaks down, we are so burdened with initiatives and baggage of all types. The New Year is a time that we should take inventory and stop all things that distract us from where we should be focusing our time.
- What’s worked, what hasn’t worked? In the New Year, we have the opportunity to reset. Individually and organizationally, we need to do an audit. We need to look at what we do that works, what we do that doesn’t work, assessing what we want to stop, what we want to fix, what we want to change.
- What’s most important to our customers? Our customers are going through the same process, to some degree, themselves. The New Year is a terrific opportunity to engage our customers to understand their priorities. They may be continuations of prior year priorities, there may be changes of focus, there may be new initiatives. While we shouldn’t need this, the New Year gives us a great excuse to have these conversations about what is most important to them, and how we can create the most value working with them.
- What’s most important to us–individually and organizationally? We get caught up in the day to day activities of getting things done. Over time we lose track of why we are doing these things, what we are trying to achieve, and our values. The New Year is an opportunity to pause and take time to look more deeply at who we are individually and organizationally, what we value, what we want to stand for, what we want to achieve, and why? This is tremendously important, it provides a basis to reground ourselves, to have a context that drives our day to day priorities and activities.
- What do we need to learn, how will we grow and develop? Again, so often, the press of the day to day, causes us to forget the things that may be most important. If we aren’t continually learning and developing–individually and organizationally–we will become dinosaurs. Take the time to set some learning and growth objectives.
- How do we create new habits? Great execution is based on developing great habits. In the New Year, we set resolutions, most of which are abandoned within 30 days. As we do the work outlined above, we will want to make some changes, we will want to do new things or do things differently. All of this becomes meaningless if we don’t create the habits to consistently do these things. The good news is it can be much easier to do this organizationally than individually. As a group, we can collectively hold ourselves accountable for creating these new habits. We aren’t alone in making these changes, we are working together in doing these.
Of course, these are things we ought to be doing continuously. There is nothing magic about the New Year. But, since we have this opportunity, why not leverage it to reset what you are doing, reexamine what drives success, reexamine what is important and what is not?