The year has started and you have come out of the starting blocks – so how does the start of your year look? Would you like to take some actions now that will change the performance of your company even more positively? It starts right now, in the first month of the first quarter!
I have two actions you can take now to build momentum in your business within the next 30 days, and give you the best chance for an awesome performance this year!
Action #1. Focus on Q1 Sales Performance
Have you ever studied the 100-meter dash and why people win? Many sports science experts will tell you that the race is won or lost at the start, and how effectively the runner gets out of the blocks.
Your business is the same way. For most businesses, and certainly for businesses with recurring revenue, Q1 is the most important quarter to hit because if you miss that it can be very difficult to catch up in the next 3 quarters. If that’s the case, does your sales team have their annual and Q1 goals, including their new commission plan? Do they know how they will be compensated? If not, you need to move on this asap. Get the comp. plans and quota goals (by product) in place now so the sales team can get moving and going after it!
If you do not have goals established for the sales team and not sure when you will, all you should do is start with two of my favorite metrics that you can apply to orders, revenues or profits:
- Growth vs last quarter. Is Q1 going to grow over Q4. This tells us we have current growth in the business.
- Growth vs. last year’s same quarter. In some businesses that are cyclical or have cyclical impacts, comparing Q1 vs the prior year Q1 is a better barometer of growth.
Mike Tomlin, the Pittsburgh Steelers coach, recently lost in the AFC Championship game. In the post-game interview, he said ‘We will re-assess, it is never a continuation’. Well that is true in football where they have seasons. But in business, it is a continuation. Your business performance never stops. It is year-round full-go! So, in January you do have to continue to drive your pipeline and your opportunities and keep your sales team focused on performance!
Action #2 – Conduct an Awesome Kickoff Meeting
If you have not had a kickoff meeting yet, schedule one today. It does not have to be a long drawn out event. You also do not have to be a big company to do a kickoff meeting. It could be the CEO and the sales and marketing team. If you can include other departments at least for part of the meeting, that would be smart too because it is a team building opportunity to get everyone working together toward this year’s goals.
I recently helped one of my customers kickoff the year by planning and facilitating their kickoff meeting. We had a lot of interaction with the sales team and the execs about markets, competitions and current activity. We reviewed our quota for the year in the core business and what we wanted to do specifically to achieve those goals and improve our performance. We also talked about the hurdles facing us, and the biggest challenges to the business. All of this leads to focusing on the areas that are most important.
“The Kickoff Meeting is more than just a meeting. It’s a team building, strategy-focusing, momentum-building experience.”
If you are planning a kickoff meeting, make sure to plan for these topics:
- Recognition of accomplishments from the past year
- Strategies for the coming year
- New products that will be launched this year and associated development plans
- Orders Quota / Targets by Product
- Pipeline analysis (Sales team)
- Have a ‘Call for Orders’. This supports Action #1 and hitting Q1 sales. It’s also about keeping momentum going through the new year and into Q1.
Have a theme – where are you going?
Every New Year’s Day while everyone was watching football games, I would personally walk around the office and leave a bookmark on every associate’s desk with a message from me. Some years I would buy books along with it. But the bookmarks became a symbol of where we were going – a commitment to a strategy for the coming year and how important the associates were going to be in making it happen. After several years, some associates would hang multiple years of bookmarks on their cubicle walls – next to their family pictures! I was honored by this. It became something special between me and that associate – something with my feelings and how positive I felt about the company and the coming year. The associates told me that my messages reassured them.
“No resource is more important in an organization than a high-performance team.”
Did you see the New England Patriots take apart the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2017 AFC championship football game? The key to the victory was in Quarter 1. New England came out of the gates and scored on their first possession, and then just kept building and adding on to their lead from there, to the point that the Steelers just eventually threw their hands up and knew it was over. It shows that the start is vital, and that momentum is a powerful force!
Your Kickoff meeting and the events that surround it, and your sales team’s ability to hit their Q1 plan, is all about building momentum and excitement so that you can take your business performance all the way to the top this year!