Many of us are familiar with the fleeting nature of New Year's resolutions: eat less and exercise often top the list and are hard to happily maintain year-long! Regardless of whether personal resolutions are your thing, you should be making a committment to professional improvement of yourself and your team each year. These resolutions don't involve limiting your caloric intake and increasing time on a treadmill and even better, they'll yield big results for your business, likely becoming mainstays in future years.
Results you may see include an increase in employee morale and a stronger team atmosphere, higher customer retention and referral rates, and achievement of new colleagues and business. As you take time this season to plan out next year, consider the following six ideas to add to your 2017 plan and strategy.
1. Network more
- Find industry clubs, and organizations in your area to join, to meet people with shared interests and build relationships, and attend events on a regular basis to become a known face in the community.
- Regardless of if your company has a booth, have presence at important conferences and tradeshows by walking the floor, setting up your own meetings, and attending networking events.
- Organize lunches or dinners with existing and new colleagues to strengthen relationships and increase the chances of referrals, partnerships, and new business.
- Need to grow your network? LinkedIn is a powerful tool to find and make new connections.
2. Encourage continued education for yourself and your team
- Read a sales or topical book a month to increase sales skills and learn the latest in your craft.
- Subscribe to industry publications to keep up with news and changes in the market.
- Attend seminars, webinars, and/or conferences relevant to you.
- Get third party support by investing in sales consulting or sales training.
3. Take time to get organized
- Purge your office and desk at the end of this year or the beginning of next.
- Clear out physical and digital files and inboxes.
- Time time weekly to plan your following week: slow times like Friday afternoons or Sundays are good.
4. Recognize your top customers and champions
- Regularly check in with new customers, during the onboarding process and beyond.
- Send a handwritten note to thank customers for their business, or simply to surprise them.
- If something goes wrong with a customer, make it a top priority to correct it; often this also makes a good story that can be used in sales and marketing messaging as well.
- Provide special offers or discounts to existing customers recognizing and rewarding their loyalty.
- Reward introductions and referrals.
5. Listen to your customers
- Find out why your customers chose you over the competitor, and get their insights about the strengths and weaknesses of your company and product.
- Start an annual customer survey to gain buyer insight about competition, the marketplace, and what they want.
- Conduct quarterly business reviews with top accounts to find out how they are doing, areas for improvement, and upsell opportunities.
- If you lose a sale or account, conduct win/loss reports to find out why.
6. Appreciate your employees
- Add an employee benefit or incentive (beyond a commission or bonus plan) that makes them proud of working for you.
- Host a monthly lunch or potluck for the office or your team.
- Express “thank you” to individuals doing a great job, often a kind word or note will do the job.
- Give employee recognition to acknowledge their efforts and increase ownership.
Have you tried any of these resolutions before, and how did it turn out? Do you continue to incorporate them today? What other resolutions would you add to the list? We'd love to hear your feedback - share in the comments section below.
Happy Planning & Happy New Year!