Ready or not, the New Year is upon us.   All of us have set ambitious sales goals for 2013 and have high expectations that they will be met.  Realize however, that unless you have made improvements on the way you sold last year, your results will probably be no different – and that is likely to disappoint most Boards, CEOs and Sales Leaders.

Therefore, avoid that famous definition of insanity and don’t expect better sales results in 2013 from the same sales effort you put forth in 2012.  Make (and keep) these New Years Sales Resolutions and you’re on the right track for achieving those stretch sales goals this year!

Build a sales revenue plan.

A sales revenue plan aligns your company’s revenue goals with the required sales pipeline needed each quarter.  A detailed target pipeline can then be developed so you know how many opportunities you need at each of your sales stages.

Take care of your weak links.

Whiteboard your end-to-end sales process and identify the names of everyone involved at each stage.  Take immediate action on both process and people that are holding you back.

Prioritize your investments.

Rank the investments you feel are needed to improve your sales engine.  Apply a consistent ROI calculation to each as a way to separate the high impact from the low possibilities.  Also consider the time it will take each investment to generate the expected impact.

Establish a sales calendar.

Companies that have a defined sales process – and follow it faithfully – outperform those that do not.

Plan for setbacks.

Not every forecasted deal will close.  Rainmakers will sometimes leave your company.  New competitors emerge with a game-changing offering.  Your biggest customers may slow down their spending with you.  Anticipate bad news and build a revenue plan that compensates for it.

Be bold to differentiate.

Every industry is stacked with deep, viable competitors on every front.  Sounding like everyone else is not going to get you noticed and being the cheapest is not the way to high margins.  Take bold chances with your marketing to separate your company from the crowd.

Break down barriers.

Ask any sales team to name their three biggest obstacles to increasing sales effectiveness and internal issues will be on every list.  Find out what internal barriers are holding your sales teams back and take them down!

Define expectations.

Soft goals and loose targets are guaranteed to result in missed sales plans.  Instead, establish monthly, weekly and daily goals for every sales leader, sales team and sales rep that align with the overall revenue target.  Create a sales leadership dashboard that reports on performance against those goals and integrate progress reviews into your sales calendar.

Change with the times.

The B2B purchasing process happens very differently today than even five years ago.  It is buyer driven and buyer controlled at every stage in ways many sales teams don’t even realize.  If your sales process and sales model hasn’t changed but your results are declining year over year it’s time you update how you sell.

Look long term.

Sales is performance driven and because of that a very short term planning horizon often results.  It’s hard for sales leaders to plan past the next quarter when they are measured on monthly, weekly or even daily results.  Fight this syndrome by defining a future state sales model that can guide daily decision-making.  Every sales investment, new hires and project can be executed in the context of that future state sales model.

We are confident that this is a list of New Year’s Resolutions that you can keep!  It will set you on a path for sales success and help ensure that your 2013 sales revenue goals are met.

Comments are welcome… let us know your favorite on this list, we’d love to hear what it means to you and your sales team.