10 High Impact Suggestions for 2011

Most executives begin the New Year with high energy and a renewed sense of purpose. When it comes to sales, though, they often don't know specifically what they want to accomplish during this critical period. Here are 10 high-impact, easy-to-implement, budget-friendly suggestions for helping your sales staff get off to a great start.

Vary the staff meeting 

Invite employees from different departments to sit in on a sales meeting. Give the reps input on the agenda. Rotate responsibility for leading the meeting amongst them. Discuss reports in a different order or introduce a new one. Alter the sales staff meeting in some way to keep things interesting for everyone.

Rerun the list of the top 20 accounts in each salesperson's territory 

Economic conditions have changed how much your clients buy from you. Some sales reps may devote a disproportionate amount of time and attention to accounts with diminished purchasing power. Others may not know the ranking of their account roster. Run a report of top accounts and review it with them.

Buy at least one motivational poster for the sales area 

Use the Internet or sales magazines to research motivational posters. Select 3 or 4 that you feel would inspire your salesperson or sales staff. Ask them to vote for their favorite. Order one and hang it up on the wall. You will catch them looking at it from time to time.

Change the look of the dashboard for the sales software system 

If the reps have looked at the same pie charts and bar graphs for several years- change them up a bit. Do the reps frequently request information that isn't displayed? Is there a product you'd like to remind them to sell? Is there something you're always looking up, or a report you regularly run before a staff meeting? If so, that's a good starting point for giving the dashboard a new look.

Create a new report for the sales staff 

Looking at data helps salespeople plan for the year ahead or devise a strategy for individual accounts. It allows them to spot trends and generate new ideas. Run a list of clients buying Product A but not Product B. Break your customer list down by industry. Think about what sort of facts or figures would help the reps sell more and provide them with that information.

Read one book on sales management 

Invest in your staff and in yourself. Amazon lists the top-selling sales management books on their website. Look for a book that fits your business. Read the customer reviews to see which one might best help you. Make a deal with yourself to select and read a book by the end of Q1

Buy one new book on sales techniques for the sales staff 

All salespeople need to review the basics and should enjoy being introduced to a new way of looking at the sales process. Go to Amazon and look at the top-selling sales books for 2010. Many excellent books were written this year. Suggest a few to your staff and let them pick the one they'd most like to read as a group.

Let the whole sales staff know about the one sales skill they all excel at as a group 

I always ask my new clients which sales skill their entire staff is particularly good at. The answer comes easily to most of them. When I ask them if their staff knows this they usually say "No." Don't keep this information a secret. If they all ask strong qualifying questions or give high-quality product demos - let them know about it.

Start the year off with a fun and motivating sales contest 

Think about past sales contests that have been popular with your reps. Consider where they like to shop or have lunch. Does each one have a particular hobby or interest? Use this information to create a sales contest. Announce it as close to the first week of January as possible.

Think of one accomplishment for each salesperson - and compliment them on it 

Praising salespeople does not always have to involve a major sale - or even be about a closed sale for that matter. Say something like, "Joe in customer service tells me that you return his calls quickly and help him get matters resolved for the client. Good job." Look for any reason to recognize your sales reps. The effort won't go unnoticed.