What Will You Change in 2017?

by Susan Novicki

One of prominent topics of conversation on January 1st is “what is your New Year’s Resolution? I must admit that I am not a proponent of New Year’s Resolutions – in fact I never make them. I don’t know anyone who follows through on them. They go out the window almost the minute they are mentioned. But I am a firm believer in another great attribute of the New Year; starting fresh and creating some solid “goals”, not resolutions. Ones that can be kept!

January is a time to reflect on the successes and challenges that occurred in the previous year. What did 2016 look like for you? What are you especially proud of? What successes stood out the most? What didn’t happen that you thought would? What obstacles were you not able to overcome? Why didn’t business come to fruition that you thought would?

January is also a time to recharge and reinvigorate for the year ahead. I am sure that each of you has an aggressive goal to achieve in 2017. This is a great time to take a “healthy” look back on what worked and what didn’t in 2016 then forge ahead with a solid plan for 2017.

When I look at setting goals for the new year I believe there is some value in setting 2-3 realistic long-term goals to move your business forward.   Why only 2-3? If you set more, the likelihood of achieving them diminishes. Realize that subtle changes in your work routines over time can produce big results. Setting a goal is one thing but putting a plan into action will require diligence and persistence – and will pay off handsomely with an increase in your closing ratio and more money in your pocket through increased commissions. Here are some possible ideas to help you in setting your goals.

First, make time for yourself.

What I mean by this is set time each week to make business development calls. If you don’t set the time, no one else will! And this is time that cannot be cancelled. Make it a sales call on your Outlook calendar. You would never cancel a meeting with a client – make this that important. See if this sounds familiar, you are all set to make some new business calls on Friday morning and your manager walks over and asks “do you have a few minutes to review the “XYZ” account? Or you get an urgent phone call from one of your media buyers who is upset with an ad that is airing. Or you get caught up in a conversation that your co-workers are having about the game last night or the newest barre studio that just opened. There are so many distractions that are true time suckers. As salespeople we struggle to find time to work on new business. It is challenging to take control of even a little time during the day. Whose time is it? Yours! Realize that these distractions take money out of your pocket. Some of the distractions are important – you need to discuss accounts with your manager and deal with issues with your agencies but manage that time – but you wouldn’t cancel a sales meeting with a client for them, would you? My challenge to you is to create that time – and it must occur every single week. Find a conference room, an open office or another quiet space away from your desk and distractions to make calls. Call on new prospects for at least 30 minutes each week for at least 6 weeks and see what happens. I guarantee you will continue to set that time aside and possibly add another 30 minutes to your call making.   If you don’t do this consistently each week the weeks and months will slip by and hello 2018 – with little in new business.

Second, create your own “Skimm”.

Every decision-maker that you deal with expects you to have done your homework about their company and their industry before you pick up the phone. You don’t have to become an expert but you do need to know some essentials to talk intelligently and ask the thought provoking questions. What do you need to know before calling? Make a list of things you should know and use that as your template for information. Be precise and fast, don’t take too much time but get the job done so you are prepared when calling the prospect.

Finally find a coach or mentor within an industry that you want to target.

I have done this in many industries. For example, years ago I embarked on a quest to crack into the financial services category. Having spent my life in sales but not media I was oblivious to the bad habit many salespeople develop of only calling the advertising decision-makers, either at the agency or at the client level. I talked to friends in the insurance world to understand who they were trying to reach and what they were trying to accomplish with these target customers. This led me to calling on independent agencies and agent groups as well as State Managers and Regional Marketing Managers for the companies, developing long term relationships to help them sell more products. I replicated this in other categories. Spend time with people that can advance your knowledge and network in the industries you want to develop. One or two a year could land you the next $500K account.

What will you change in 2017?

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