As we're all charging towards a strong close to 2014, many are missing the opportunity to get themselves ready for a strong start to 2015. For some, there seems to be an ongoing "feast or famine" cycle where their focus constantly shifts from generating pipe to closing deals (Actual Cash Value or ACV). A healthy, balanced business needs both to happen simultaneously.

Here are 4 tips to help make sure you're prepared for a strong start to the new year. For a more in-depth look, check out the Sell Faster in 2015 with Salesforce and webinar on Thursday, Dec. 18 at 12 pm PST:

1. Find the Gaps

Effectively planning for sales requires the right information. Whether you're trying to understand which industries are performing better or how the companies you've sold to are related, it's important to have the most accurate and complete data possible.

Your CRM contains the secrets to whom you've sold to, but it may not have complete information of those companies. Using a service like to enrich your account information gives you more details on the companies you're selling to and can help you accurately classify your accounts into the right industries using industry-standard classifications like SIC or NAICS.

Another way to fill the gaps is to analyze the whitespace with corporate hierarchy information. It helps you identify the relationships among the companies you're doing business with as well as helps you find the ones you should be doing business with. Once you understand how companies are related within a corporate structure, you can delve into which parent/child companies you've already sold to and which you need to target. You may find there's a parent company in the mix you haven't targeted, even though you've already sold to some of the companies they own. Approaching these new businesses becomes that much easier if you can point to your successes with their related businesses.

2. Prioritize your Accounts

Not all accounts are created the same and it's just not possible to give every one of them the same level of time and attention. Knowing which market segments you need to focus on and prioritizing the accounts within each segment will help you generate leads more effectively as well as use your sales team's time more efficiently. Whether you follow an 80/20 rule or some other approach, take the time to determine which accounts deserve more attention.

The best way to ensure you are focusing on the right accounts is to analyze your current sales data. Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • what does your ideal customer profile look like? 
  • what company size? 
  • what industry? 
  • what's the sales cycle length as compared to deal size?

3. Plan Your Territories

Territories are your way to strategically align your sales teams so that you can sell effectively with the lowest amount of selling costs. Getting your segments right let's you ensure you have better sales coverage and helps you retain the best talent.

Understanding your current sales is essential to good territory planning. Who you're selling to? Who is buying? Define your total addressable market. Armed with this info, you can work on balancing your territories. Matching the skill sets of your reps with the complexity of accounts helps to ensure efficient a more efficient sales cycle. Involving your sales managers and teams early in the process empowers them to help make sure the territories are the best possible and gives them a sense of ownership.

4. Fill the pipe - with the right prospects

Now that you've identified new accounts and defined your territories, you want to make sure your reps can be productive as soon as 2015 starts. You want them to be able to focus on what they do best not spending their time hunting for information. For this, you need up-to-date, complete contact information for those accounts. And unless you have an extremely direct sales cycle, you'll need a number of contact points at those companies.

Services like give you the ability to find contacts based on criteria like geography, industry, level, and company. Taking the time now to ensure you have contacts at all those promising accounts will ensure your sales team is off to a strong start in 2015. If you'd like more details on how to leverage Salesforce and to make this happen, check out the Sell Faster in 2015 with Salesforce and webinar.