Don’t Get Blindsided by Next Year’s Sales Goal

There are only a few days left in Q4, and it’s crunch time for sales. The entire team is working feverishly to hit goals and you’re pushing yourself to the limit to get those last few deals to close. But even with your mind intensely focused on these few days, you must also be acutely aware of what’s coming up next – higher and more aggressive sales goals in Q1.

In the rush to hit sales goals at the end of 2014, it’s often all-too-easy to forget about next year’s swiftly approaching goals approaching. Even while you’re focusing on closing today’s deals, you don’t want to be unprepared to hit your upcoming goals next quarter. You need to fully understand what those new goals are, and already have a plan to achieve them in the coming weeks. No matter what your role in the sales organization, you should be ready to hit the ground running in 2015.

For Sales VPs

Out of everyone on the sales team, VPs are the least likely to be surprised by the upcoming sales goals. You’ve probably been in serious discussions with the CEO and the rest of the executive team for months now, talking about where to reasonably set the sales goals for next year. You have strong input into this number, and should be able to gauge what is reasonable for your team to accomplish, and what is a stretch. Once you know how much revenue the executive team expects sales to bring in next year, you have your goals laid out in front of you. You now have to consider:

You should be working closely with your sales managers to create an achievable plan to hit your number next year. Once you have a clear plan, it’s time to share those goals with your team – and not a few days before the new year. You have to make sure to prepare every manager and every rep for the work they’ll soon be putting in, so no one feels blindsided or overwhelmed by their personal number. Clear and early communication is key to making sure the entire sales team is ready to tackle new opportunities in 2015.

For Sales Managers

Make sure you communicate early and often with your Sales VP so you know exactly what’s coming up in the new year. If leadership has decided to increase revenue goals by 20%, you need to be on-board with the plan as soon as possible. You should be working closely with the VP to build a strategy to hit those goals. If, for example, the VP believes the team should grow by 15 reps in the next year, you should have a job posting up and already be reviewing promising resumes. You need those new reps to be starting their first day on Jan. 1, and be fully onboarded and productive by the end of Q1. If quotas are also going to increase for existing reps, you need to make sure your team knows about their newest goals and everyone – marketing, outbound reps, etc – is already working to fill the pipeline. If your team of reps feels like you’re springing a huge number on them at the last minute, they’re not going to achieve the number you need. As the intermediary between executives and reps, it’s up to you to translate a top-down number into a powerful and achievable business plan.

For Sales Reps

For reps in the field, the key to hitting next year’s goals is to start preparing as early as possible. Find out what your quota will be for next year, and take a look at your personal sales performance metrics. If your manager tells you that your sales quota is going to increase significantly next year, you better be ready for the change in expectations. You should have started building up your pipeline already, working deals in the early stages so you have enough to hit the aggressive new goals set for January. Sales is all about thinking both in the short-term and the long-term – you have to constantly be thinking about the deal you’re closing this week, and the deal you’ll be closing next quarter. You should analyze your personal, historical conversion rate for deals in your total pipeline, and then you know how much pipeline you need to hit your goals. Push yourself to build that pipeline even as you close deals this week, and you’ll be in good shape for the new year.
No one likes to feel blindsided or surprised by their sales goals. Rather than keeping your head in the sand and focusing on today, you need to always keep an eye on the horizon. Communicate with your team, start preparing early, and you’ll see success in the new year.

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