The time is now.
Yes, I know it's the middle of September.
You can't wait until December. You can't even wait until November. That's when the holiday season starts.
But you could wait until October, right? Waiting takes away your power to act now though.
Now IS the best time to evaluate, plan and take action to achieve your business goals for 2019.
Here are 10 things you MUST do now to close 2019 strong - AND set you up for a great start to 2020:
Evaluate your YTD progress: Whether you run a weekly, monthly or quarterly report you have data to indicate how your business is performing to your goals. Take out that spreadsheet with the goals you created in January and update it with at least your August results. When you show monthly and cumulative results you have a better understanding of where any gaps may be. Below goal? You still have 3 1/2 months to achieve that goal. Create a micro plan with steps and deadline on how and when you will achieve it. Then make it happen. Ahead of goal? Celebrate! Seriously, take a breather from work and celebrate the wins. Celebrating the small and big wins keeps you motivated and happy!
List the goals you need to achieve by December 31: Not all goals start on January 1 and end of December 31. You may have goals that don't start until 3rd or 4th quarter. Make sure you don't lose site of those when you're evaluating YTD progress. The worst feeling at the end of the year is that panic feeling of 'forgetting' a goal.
Identify the source that generated the most qualified leads: Look through your reports, look at Google Analytics, if you're in sales - talk to marketing, if you're in marketing - talk to sales. What is the one source that generated the most qualified leads? Identify what your team did different on that #1 source. Was it the first year for that source? Did you identify your ICA and create content specifically for them? Do you have dedicated personnel to handle that source? Are there new processes to manage the lead generation and management process? It could be any number of reasons. The important thing here is to 1- know which source and 2 - why it was #1 (so you can repeat what's working, of course!)
Create a laser-focus sales plan with due dates for each business goal: Fourth quarter always has good intentions. The problem? Everyone is focused on getting their own goals accomplished - not yours! So, what does that mean for you? You need to accelerate your sales goals - make your year-end the end of November (not December). Once the holidays arrive, people are on vacation, out of the office, pre-occupied with non-work 'stuff' that they lose track of time and goals. So, create a laser focused sales plan with due dates that land you an early YE objective and everything else is just gravy.
Outline the marketing strategy to drive results for each sales goal: Business goal -> sales goals -> marketing goals. How will marketing help sales achieve their goal? With the list of sales goals in hand, work together to develop the best plan to achieve an end of November year. Things to keep in mind: who your ICA is, where they spend time, what their end of year pain points are (good to know for seasonal businesses) and what content they have responded to previously (Google Analytics is a great resource for this!).
Talk to 10 customers and find out how you can serve them better: Your customers are your best resource for giving feedback - the good, the bad and the ugly. The 10 customers you contact mix up the type of customer including how long they've been a customer, what products/services they've purchased, what person in your company they've work with, etc. The more angles and varied feedback you can get, the better you can evaluate and change to make your solutions, process and service even better.
Update your website content to include one new problem you solve: This can be a result of talking to 10 customers. There is likely to be a new 'need' from them. If there is, collaborate with marketing, sales and customer service to determine the best wording and create new content that directs visitors to those solutions. When you have new content to share with that ICA, include in an email update to that group - the new solution you have specifically for them, not the content.
Determine one prospect that's been on the fence and you can turn them to a YES or NO: Every sales person has ONE of these people. Now that you're in the home stretch, any answer is better than a maybe. What have the 'I'm not ready yet' reasons been? How can you position yourself, your brand and your solution differently to turn them into a YES or NO? It's not always easy but having an answer one way or the other will be great for you. Even if it's a NO, it's a mental checklist you can mark off and add back at another time when they are ready to consider YES.
Research your products/services and identify the most profitable item: Of all the products and services your customers bought, which one is THE most profitable? You probably know that off the top of your head as most business people do. With that product or service in mind, what is your plan to convert more of those prospects into a customer this year? Keep in mind that this year's plans and results will become the baseline of next year's strategy.
Make a list of what went well this year, what didn't and what changes you'd like to make: Start a list and add to it as you think about things, take time away from everything else and brainstorm a list, create a post-it wall....whatever works for you. The goal of this exercise is what I call the "red, yellow, green" approach (like a traffic light). This will be your list of things you need to stop doing (red), continue doing (green) and evaluate (yellow) to determine what changes need to be made then make a 'go/no go' (green or red) decision.
What's ONE thing you are going to do between now and the end of the year to make your brand more "human"? This could be anything from showing off your funny side, put the behind-the-scenes business magicians in the spotlight, share user-generated content, etc.
That last one is a BONUS because we often forget ALL the people that make the company work as well as it does, that we can have fun in a professional environment and STILL get our goals accomplished and that you can put an unexpected smile where someone least expects it - on your customer's face.
What are YOU going to do to make 2019 your BANNER year?