10 Steps to Getting Your 2019 Q1 Off to a Fast Start
2019 is right around the corner, and with it comes a new set of business strategies, marketing initiatives, and sales goals. Is your team ready?
Here are 10 steps you can take to ensure your Q1 gets off to a strong, fast start:
Refine your business’ mission, vision, and strategies
Roll out your shared purpose to all employees
Communicate clear job responsibilities and KPIs
Develop a year-long internal enablement plan
Create and deliver a partner enablement plan
Develop a joint demand management plan between sales and marketing
Implement a communications plan
Create a customer and partner business plan
Create a major customer and partner account mapping plan
Pull it all together with a 2019 kickoff call
Why is it Important to Have a Fast Start?
When you make Q1, you generate a virtuous cycle. The rest of year is much easier, team morale is high, you get more support for initiatives because you’ve proven your capabilities, and you head into Q2 riding high.
But if you miss plan in Q1, Q2 starts with a hole to dig out of. Budgets can get cut. Stress increases, and morale drops. This begins a negative cycle that’s tough to break out of.
1. Refine Your Business’ Mission, Vision, and Strategies
The biggest key to a fast start is alignment and communication, and this starts at the top. Your executive team should get together to refine the organizations’ mission, vision, and strategies. Ideally, these share a common thread and theme you can use throughout the year as a rallying cry.
There are always many potential focus areas, but this should be kept relatively brief with just a few critical priorities highlighted. Then, overall revenues and budgets required should be determined. Each should be allocated high-level quotas and targets.
2. Roll Out Your Shared Purpose to All Employees
The shared purpose determined by the executive team must next be rolled out to each and every employee in the organization. This ensures the entire company is aligned and pointed in the same direction.
How to do this? Each next-level team leader needs to create strategies and plans their individual teams will deliver, designed to support the overall company goals as determined in step one.
Team leaders should start by identifying the company-wide strategies they can impact and influence. Then, they should meet with their teams to determine how to best support these initiatives. Team input is key here, since it gives the employees a sense of ownership.
As always, tactics, milestones, timelines, and owners should be set in advance so progress can be tracked throughout the year. Again, this should be a team effort - have the team determine the KPIs they’ll measure, and how exactly they’ll be measured. This keeps everyone on the same page, with clear expectations and metrics for success.
3. Communicate Clear Job Responsibilities and KPIs to Each Employee
Each team leader needs to communicate clear job responsibilities and a set of key performance indicators to each individual who reports to them. These should show each person’s specific role in accomplishing the organization’s overarching goals.
For sales roles, this includes account assignment and quota for each individual. Leaders should assign between 3-5 KPIs or quota elements per person. Any more than that dilutes their role, and the weighting becomes too small to be meaningful.
Compensation plans should also be locked down, for both quota carriers and non-quota carriers. These should include acceleration rates, payment schedules, caps, etc.
4. Develop a Year-Long Internal Enablement Plan
An internal enablement plan is key to achieving the organization’s 2019 goals. Enablement encompasses product, services and solutions, and operational knowledge - everything employees need to understand their products and solutions so they can do their jobs most efficiently.
This is a multi-step process. First, identify hard (product) and soft skills required for each key role. Then, create a plan for developing each skill - e-learning, face-to-face, virtual, etc. - and how each skill area will be measured and/or tested.
Identify the required tools and resources that will be required to enable the team. These could be sales playbooks, marketing campaign materials, case studies, or customer references. One person should be responsible for developing each of these.
Once created, a list of aligned resources (pre-sales, support, services, etc.) should be distributed to the team so they know what’s available to assist in the sales cycle.
5. Create and Deliver an Enablement Plan to Your Channel Partners
If your organization has partners selling, supporting, and services your solutions, you’ll also need to name a point person to create and deliver a partner enablement plan.
The process is almost exactly the same to that described in step 4, just with a different intended audience.
Identify key skills and how they’ll be conveyed, measured, and tested.
Identify required tools and resources required for partner effectiveness
Distribute the list of aligned resources to assist in their sales cycle
6. Develop a Joint Demand Management Plan Between Sales and Marketing
Your marketing leader is responsible for developing and communicating an annual marketing plan to ensure marketing and sales alignment.
First, they should determine the annual marketing budget, which will ideally be based on a revenue marketing plan. The budget should be allocated between brand awareness and demand generation, and each deliverable should have an assigned owner, timeline, and metric.
It’s essential marketing signs up for a specific pipeline contribution, generally split with sales and channel partners. This keeps everyone working together toward the same goals, and holds everyone accountable.
7. Implement a Communications Plan
A communications plan needs to be implemented and scheduled, both for internal audiences as well as customers and partners. This keeps everyone on the same page and expectations clear.
The communications plan starts with a welcome letter. Three versions should be ready to go on January 2 - one for customers, one for partners, and one for employees. The letter should share new and relevant information about things like strategy, leadership, organization, products, sales models, coverage, etc.
Then, schedule regular updates. These should include a monthly update for key constituents that covers performance, critical initiatives for the time period, organizational changes, and any other relevant information. It’s also a good idea to schedule a quarterly call where the leadership team can share key information and take questions from employees.
How do you know if your communications have been effective? You should be able to call any employee in the company and ask them to share the mission, vision, and critical imperatives for the new year. They should all be able to answer this question consistently and accurately.
8. Create a Customer and Partner Business Plan
Sales leaders should create a major customer and partner business plan to ensure there’s a clear path to achieving quota. This should include either weekly or month forecasting and pipeline review meetings, as well as a quarterly review process.
The business plan should track revenue by quarter, and assign owners and timelines to all major activities, investments, and commitments. It should include a single forecast and pipeline process to be distributed to the entire sales force.
9. Develop a Major Customer and Partner Account Mapping Plan
It’s essential that regular touch points with customers and partners are happening. This can be accomplished with an account mapping plan.
First, identify key customer or partner leaders with whom you need to build, maintain, or deepen a relationship with. Then, assign a peer-level executive or leader within your own company to align with each name and role. Finally, determine the appropriate frequency of each touchpoint and schedule calls to make sure they take place regularly throughout the year.
10. Pull it All Together with a 2019 Kickoff Call
The group leader should pull all of this together with a 2019 kickoff call to set the tone for the year. The all-hands call should be scheduled for January 2, welcoming the team to 2019 and sharing all of the above information that relates to the entire organization.
It should cover key business imperatives, and other critical information and insight.
Each next-level team leader should then schedule their own call with pertinent details their own teams need to know. For example, a sales team lead would share quotas, compensation plans, updated forecast processes, etc.
It’s critical to explain to the rank and file the importance of over performing in Q1. Hitting plan in Q1 creates a positive spiral that raises morale and confidence and keeps the team focused on growth vs worried about digging out of a hole the rest of the year.
If you work with partners, you may also want to schedule a welcome to 2019 partner call to share information that will help them have a successful year with you.
These calls shouldn’t just be an overview of what’s to come, but are also an opportunity to celebrate all of the accomplishments of the previous year. Use it as a way to keep the team informed, enthusiastic, and motivated about the year ahead.
Once the calls are complete, your team members are ready to take the bull by the horns and get selling, getting 2019 off to its fastest, strongest start possible.