15 Questions for the New Year: How to Adopt Better Strategies and Have a Better Year

By Colleen Francis

Last year, we spent a great deal of time looking at the strategies the Top 10% of sales people use to fuel their success. Now that we're beginning the New Year, it's important to decide how we can put those strategies into action in our own lives, so we can take our careers wherever we want to go.

As you start your planning for the New Year, below are a few questions you should be asking yourself to give you a clear focus of the areas and goals where you are committed to improving, and to help make sure that this year is your best year ever.

Be Nice

  • How passionate are you about what you do? Loving what you do will ensure that you maintain the positive attitude you need to get to the top. Ask yourself Brian Tracy's question, "if I knew then what I know now about this job, would I have taken it?" If the answer is yes, find a way to communicate that passion to your team mates and your clients. Passion and a positive attitude are the glue that hold all your sales skills together.
  • Are your company, colleagues, family and friends life givers who support you in your endeavors, or life suckers who impede your progress? Only life givers can create an environment that fosters success.
  • Do you want to become who you hang out with? Tony Robins says that our success is directly linked to the expectations of the people we associate with. Do you have the right associations? If not, you might have to go to different places, try something new or join new groups to meet new or different people.
  • Are you the "it" person in your industry? Do people see you as a person with valuable information, and come to you first? This year, develop a plan to become the "go to person" for your clients. Studies show it can be worth between $63,000 and $117,000 in extra income for you per year.
  • Do you take responsibility for your actions? You can complain all you want that it was shipping's fault for getting the order out late, marketing's fault for not giving you good leads or your manager's fault for not funding or training you sufficiently. The fact is, in sales, the buck stops with you. Your clients don't want people who make excuses or whine about being victims. They want agents of success. They don't care whose "fault it was," only that you take responsibility for it. What are you going to do this year to take more responsibility?

As a side note, when I interview sales people I always ask them to tell me about an opportunity they lost, and why they lost it. If they blame others for the loss, they do not get the job. I know that sales people who can't take responsibility, are never going to be in the top 10%

Stay Focused

  • Do you believe you have the skills, knowledge and strength to be successful? If you don't believe in yourself, no one else will, either. Develop a strong belief system that reminds you every day that you can be successful, and that you are the best.
  • When was the last time you tried anything for the first time? This is a pivotal question in lifelong learning and development. If you aren't learning something new about sales every day, you are falling behind. What's something new you learned last year? How can you learn more new things this year?
  • What goals have you set for this year? Are they written down? If I showed up at your office right now, would I see them posted where you can look at them every day?
  • Are you focused on the customer first? Do you have all the information your customers want, in the way they want it? Notice that I said, "all the information your customers want," NOT "everything you want to tell them." Customers want answers to their questions, not yours. This means you must first be an expert at what you do or sell, and then document all the relevant information in a way that answers the questions your clients ask, and solves their specific problems. How good are your answers?
  • How focused is your plan for success, and how focused are on achieving it? Top performers focus most of their time working on those activities that help them achieve their goals - such as prospecting, meetings and closing - and little time doing those tasks that earn them little or nothing. What are you focused on for the majority of your day?

Get to Work

  • How aware are you of the opportunities that you encounter? Do you see opportunity on every street corner as you drive home at night, or are you only focused on the latest re run of CSI that's waiting for you? Mediocre sales people complain that top performers are simply in the right place at the right time. Top performers know the harder they work the luckier they get. In other words, they create their own luck. You have to be good to be lucky - how good are you?
  • Are you making any mistakes? Are you failing? If you aren't failing, you aren't growing. My karate master is always pushing us to strike one more opponent, block one more kick, hold our stance just one more minute, until our bodies physically fail. Why? Because until you've pushed past your limits and failed, until you've stretched past your comfort zone into your uncomfort zone, you can never achieve more than you thought possible. What are you doing every day to reach your uncomfort zone?
  • What risks are you taking? Like high performance athletes, high performance sales people are constantly challenging themselves to do better. Every time you play it safe, you lose. Every time you take a risk, you win - either you win the business, or you win the knowledge of what not to do the next time. What risks are you willing to take in 2008 in order to beat the competition?
  • Did you give up on any goals last year? Thomas Edison failed 1,000 times before he invented the light bulb, and changed the world. Stanford University shows that 85% of clients buy after the 5th meeting and 95% of sales people give up after the 4th.Most sales people I meet give up after hearing their first "no" on a cold call. Persistence pays off. Do you want to be remembered as a quitter, or as the Thomas Edison of your industry?
  • Are you putting your great ideas into action, or just putting them on the shelf? Thomas Edison also said: "Strategy without execution is hallucination." Knowing the strategies of top performers is great. Executing them is what will make you a star. Take some time now to think about what you will do this year to execute on these strategies of the Top 10%. Then go out, and as Nike says: just do it!

Challenge yourself by going through these questions with candor and honesty. You already know many of the strategies you need to execute in the New Year. Make them happen and reap the rewards!

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Nonstop Sales Boom by Colleen Francis Make sure you check out Colleen's latest book, Nonstop Sales Boom for powerful strategies to drive consistent sales growth quarter after quarter, year after year.

Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions (www.EngageSelling.com). Armed with skills developed from years of experience, Colleen helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line.

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