The How-To: Ending The Year On A Business High
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
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Many businesses struggle to convert inertia into potential energy at the start of a new calendar year. But just imagine if you could close the business year on a high with maximum energy and enough momentum to carry you into the next.
Attention to just a few details –from focussing on closing the smaller deals to unofficial 360-degree reviews– can help you achieve your own goals and a year-end high. And it means you can start the new year firing on all cylinders.
But where should you concentrate your energy? Here we look at four key points.
1. Focus on closing the smaller deals
Many leaders unsurprisingly focus their efforts on chasing the biggest clients with the largest possible deals and highest returns. Whilst that makes good business sense for most of the year, a change in your mindset as you approach the end of the calendar year can reap greater rewards.
Smaller deals mean a higher number of quicker transactions
Why do smaller deals matter to you? Because they tend to need less work, and often sign more quickly, than larger more complex ones. So as you near the end of the year, consider this: with only a couple of months to go, you’ve got a better chance of closing if you concentrate on the smaller projects you may have been ignoring all year.
And whilst many of your clients may still be keen to burn through unspent budgets, there’s one guiding principle that remains true year round: the smaller the deal, the quicker the sign off. And your team may respond more positively, too, as year-end draws closer: according to the Harvard Business Review, workers are naturally much more likely to engage with tasks that have very short deadlines.
2. Revisit your best relationships
For most of the business year, ignoring potential new contacts and leads could understandably spell disaster. But focussing exclusively on signing new clients in the closing months of the year can actually endanger your relationships with your venture’s most important asset, your existing clients.
According to Paul Brown, co-author of Just Start: Take Action, Embrace Uncertainty, Create the Future, because an existing relationship is in place, existing clients are more willing to give any addition to your product line a try. He argues that your cost of sales will be less, and you will find it easier to gain momentum.
Strengthening existing relationships opens doors
It’s important to note here, however, that you should not approach this exercise with your sales hat on. Don’t look at it simply as a chance to squeeze a few more dollars out of them before the year’s end. Whilst it’s true that individuals who already like and trust you will be more inclined to buy more of what you’re offering, this exercise will give clients the chance to sound you out about potential long-term projects and perhaps seek your advice.
And taking the opportunity to entertain them where appropriate can put the relationship on a firm footing of mutual respect: giving your time for free and showing that you’re able to provide solutions to longer term problems or hurdles will open the door to trusted referrals and recommendations.
3. Promote quality content marketing
It goes without saying that quality content is a crucial part of your sales strategy all year round. But as the rush towards the end of the year grips the business community, its importance becomes even more acute. As existing clients and new prospects narrow their focus on achieving their end-of-year goals, they’ll be looking to experts they can trust –in other words, you– to help them achieve those goals.
Quality content strengthens your reputation as an expert, cements trust & drives sales
Why content? The main aim of content marketing is to talk to your existing and potential customers from a position of trust. That way you can get across the benefits of your offering without the turn-off of a straight sales approach. After all, more than two-thirds of customers, according to Marketing Week, mistrust advertising.
Fresh & unique content on your blog helps convert prospects & end the year on a high
A blog can not only supercharge your SEO, but even more impressively, research shows that SMEs that blog regularly and often can see a staggering 126% higher lead generation than those companies that don’t bother. But the benefits don’t end there: when compared to outbound marketing, content marketing is a fraction of the cost and generates three times as many leads.
4. Informal 360-degree reviews to analyse your pipeline
It never hurts to reflect on what’s gone well this year and learn from those experiences. But regardless of how well or badly the last ten months have been, you need to look ahead. This exercise should focus exclusively on what needs to happen to close the year on a high and begin next year with plenty of momentum, not as a forum for recriminations.
Engaging with your team and prioritizing potential in the pipeline boosts end-of-year momentum
One of the best ways to end on a high is to re-examine your sales pipeline and look at opportunities that already exist. It can help to sit down with your team and prioritize anything that is past the half-way point in the sales cycle, and reassign resources if necessary to make them a priority. But remember not to obsess over just your ‘high-probability’ prospects and clients. As the book Drinking from the Fire Hoseby Christopher J Frank and Paul Magnone notes, by doing so you’ll be ignoring the swing prospects in the middle of the spectrum.
Mid-quarter team reviews can re-energize and refocus priorities
But how can reviews help? Unofficial 360-degree reviews which encourage everybody to brainstorm and think creatively will pull your team into the heart of the decision-making process and are more likely to create a plan of action everybody can get behind. Substituting micromanagement for delegation can also excite and reinvigorate them, meaning you are less likely to have to battle that inertia come the start of the new calendar year.
Why? Because you and your team, by focusing on just a few important details exclusive to the needs of the year-end, will be firing on all cylinders as one year ends a new one begins.