Top sales performers are prepping to smash 2017, here’s one thing to do each day to kick start your goals in the new year.

Maybe you're feeling a little powerless right now if you still have a sales target to make but your customers and prospects are still on holidays. Well, before you head off to drown your sorrows, hang back a while – I've got news for you. Your contacts may not have their bums in their office chairs but they still have their thumbs on their mobile screens!

In fact, at this time of year they’re likely free from more pressing business distractions, and you are more likely than ever to find your key contacts online in personal and social networks.

I want to encourage you to to see the beginning of the year for the fantastic opportunity it is - a time to ideate, build relationships and do the things you just don’t get the time to do when you’re focused on making sales.

Here are 12 tips to help you on your way:

1. Update your data

Good data means great results. Out-of-date data leads to dead ends and wastes time.

If the people you can close sales with are on leave, often supporting roles are still at work. These gatekeepers are likely to have a bit more time to spare at the moment – use it to develop a greater understanding of the business and to clean up your data.

Find out the inside info on:

  • Who you should contact for specific sales opportunities.

  • Who the key information holders are (including their contact details).

  • The best time to catch them and when they are back from holidays.

  • Most importantly, ask if you can schedule some time.

2. Send personalised cards to important clients and prospects.

Don't let your marketing department send out a generic new year email. Personalise your cards and emails. These people mean something to you – you share a vision, right? Then make meaningful contact. Show your contacts they are valued. If possible, do it in person! Commit face-to-face time, without a sales pitch, to your high-value clients.

3. Make 4.4 new business BFFs

Invite clients to parties, and not just your direct contacts. Research from CEB tells us that each business averages 5.4 stakeholders who need to be convinced before a deal will get across the line, so ask your contacts to bring others along. It’s a great opportunity to build new relationships in a relaxed environment.

4. Be a matchmaker at parties

Matchmaking is important, but I don’t mean in a romantic sense (that could go very badly for you!). When you invite the right people from a client business to a party, make sure there is someone for them to have a meaningful – perhaps even exciting – conversation with.

Make the right matches in terms of level of seniority, interests and personality. Also consider whether you have prospects who you’d like to sit alongside current customers. If a prospect is thinking about working with you on a loyalty program it would be a good idea to sit them with one of your current clients who is very happy about what you have done for their loyalty program.

5. Don’t take a social media holiday

People may be out and about but they are always socially connected. You’re on LinkedIn; so is your prospect. Time for some gentle stalking – find some common ground, share some articles that you know will be valuable to them and make that connection.

Nothing – repeat nothing – is more powerful than personal connection and now is the time to build and nurture it.

6. Use pay incentives to motivate your team

There is no better time for financial motivation than pre and post Christmas, so make sure your salespeople can earn commission or SPIFFS (special pay incentives for fast sales) to encourage higher sales.

Set specific goals and track performance, but align to where you have gaps in performance. In the rush to hit targets, don’t put the cart before the horse – the behaviour you drive needs to contribute to the achievement of business goals.

7. Arm yourself with product knowledge

Take this time, when you're not in lots of client meetings or on the road, to learn more about your products. Soak up new knowledge that you can use immediately in the new year to build pipeline and progress deals faster. What better time to invest in being the master of your art!

8. Read a great sales book

I have just finished reading High-Profit Prospecting by Mark Hunter and it inspired me to think more about which traditional prospecting practices we need to toss out and which we need to ramp up in the digital age – as well as some ideas for new tactics to add to the mix.

We know that the best salespeople never stop improving so, in the spirit of self-improvement, pick one great book on sales, or on whatever business challenge you face, and give yourself the gift of knowledge.

9. Plan new year meetings

Have you ever tried to get on someone’s calendar in the week before Christmas? Yep, good luck with that one. But, salespeople are nothing if not tenacious. Don’t give up – just think ahead. Now is the time to set January and February meetings, because nobody has filled next year’s calendar.

Put some good thought into the rationale for starting the year off with a meeting and you’ll find it will be locked and loaded easily. Then you get to focus on kicking off your year by building that pipeline. Did I hear someone say “top performer”?

10. Know your customer budgeting cycle and get calling

Make sure to understand your customers’ budget cycles and, more importantly, understand what you can offer that will be of value to them. Then look for those who haven’t spent their annual budgets and get in front of them quickly.

11. Propose something bold

Use this quieter time to plan for the new year, not just for yourself but also on behalf of your clients. Perhaps now is the time to plant that seed, to offer ideas to your customers. Don't be scared to propose bold things, as long as they fit the client’s vision. That obviously takes an understanding of the company you're selling to, but it can be very powerful.

12. Cold call the 2iC

Often senior executives go on leave, providing a great opportunity to get to the 2iC and better understand their needs. Cold calling can be very effective during this time. Now is your time to get to that influencer, particularly if you haven’t been getting through to the main stakeholder.

Want to close deals faster, make more money and join the top performers? We’re here to help – download our ebook 5 secrets of the most productive salespeople.