The 3-Step Guide to Starting 2018 With a Bang

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We’re coming to the end of the year, and business is slowing down.

Now is the perfect time to take a step back, analyze the data you gathered over the past 12 months, and build a strong plan and a full pipeline for January.

This may seem like a daunting task. That’s why I’m sharing my 3-step process to preparing for a strong start in 2018.

1) Dig out your “not-now” prospects

December is the optimal moment to review your lost deals to see if you can spot any opportunities.

Use your CRM system or the spreadsheet where you keep track of your closed-won and closed-lost deals and identify the prospects who delayed the project -- typically by saying something like “Call me next year” or “Let’s postpone this until X [e.g. the launch of X new product]” and put them in a separate list.

I store this information in Notes and Tasks in the HubSpot CRM. When a prospect says “this might not be the best time” for them, I set a task to follow up with them around the end of the year. In December, I can create a new pipeline and review my list of follow-ups.

No matter what tools you use to put together your list, narrow it down and only focus on high priorities.

2) Review and prioritize the list

Although technically anyone can buy from you, you don’t want to waste any time trying to engage with people or companies who will never become customers.

That’s why I recommend prioritizing your list of “not-now” prospects by:

  • Deal size: Is the deal worth pursuing?
  • Company size: Are they a good fit for your product or service?
  • Point of contact: Is the person you’re primarily working with the decision maker?
  • Competitor: If their contract with your competitor is expiring, can you give them a better deal that’s worth the change?
  • Current opportunity: Is this the best time to approach this company?

This exercise will help you home in on seemingly good prospects who won’t move forward. Remove them from your list and focus on the remainder.

But before you pick up the phone, follow the last step of my process.

3) Research your prospects before calling

Check your prospect’s website and look up the latest news about their company. Look for a new product launch, financial results, or any information that reveals whether they’re still a good fit.

Next, research your primary contact. See if they got promoted, moved to another department, or changed jobs. A change can be a great opportunity to restart the conversation.

With your list of priorities in check, you can pick up the phone and start calling.

Pro tip: You will probably get the good-old “Call me after the holidays” response more often than you hope. Take some time to figure out how you’ll handle this objection.

Bonus Step: Go deeper into active accounts

Companies tend to push their sales teams to constantly acquire new customers, but they miss the opportunity right in front of them: Cross-selling or upselling to existing customers.

The start of a new year is also a good time to conduct business reviews with your top producing accounts.

Using the Companies by Revenue Source report in HubSpot CRM, I can quickly determine which customers produced the most revenue this year and which services they bought. I then narrow my list to the top 10 and book a business review with them first.

That’s how I make sure I have opportunities open for January.

If you want to follow on my footsteps, check out HubSpot’s 100% free CRM and follow my blog for more sales productivity tips.

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