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5 Tactics for driving end of year sales success

5 Tactics for driving end of year sales success
December is typically crunch time for sales reps and managers who work on the front line. While most people are thinking about their Christmas shopping and festive party plans, you’re caught up in end of year anxieties about hitting your annual sales targets. With just a few weeks to go, you need to close sales pronto, but you’re getting rebuffed by prospects who want to put buying decisions on hold till the new year. Things start to get real tense as you’re weighed down by the pressure to do more with less, and do it yesterday!

Need some help to drive up your win rates? Here are 5 tactics you can use to make quota and finish the year on a sales high.

1. Prune your pipeline

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The clock is ticking and having too many opportunities in your pipeline at this time of year can stall your progress. Don’t waste time trying to target anyone and everyone as this will just dilute your attention. Focus on the deals that are most likely to close this year, and remove any less certain prospects from your December pipeline. You can always follow up with them next year. Use the Progress Percentage feature in DropTask to identify which deals are near completion in the sales cycle. In addition, a quick analysis will help determine which prospects are the best fit and have the most urgent need for your product or service. Look at your last 10-20 leads and identify some criteria to describe those that went on to close successfully. For example, were the majority startups or established businesses? Which departments tend to respond better? What’s the average sales price? And so on. Use this customer profile as a guide for directing your primary sales activity.

2. Get creative with incentives

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There’s fun and festivity in the air, so now’s a good time to think of creative ways to nudge your prospective customers to say yes. Consider special holiday discounts to encourage prompt purchase, free shipping/returns, competitions, giveaways, flexible payment schemes and add-ons; or bundle your products into new combinations so you can sell at a higher price point. Flash sales via email and social media are a great way to create a sense of urgency and encourage last-minute buys. According to a study by Monetate, 56% of businesses agree that flash sale campaigns tend to have better response rates than regular campaigns. Shorter duration flash sales – say three hours – are particularly successful. With DropTask Notifications, you can keep a tight rein on all your campaigns and communicate available offers to the sales team in real time, so everyone can capitalize on a more receptive ‘holiday happy’ market.

3. Automate sales workflow

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The best sales teams operate within a standardized process that defines a particular sequence of steps – Research, Approach, Qualify, Presentation/Product Info, Close, Aftersales/Follow-up. In the mad rush to drive immediate year-end sales, however, this process can often go to pot, and with it, so do the chances of achieving customer satisfaction. Technology is valuable in helping to automate workflow for your reps. Even simple tools like email templates can ease the pressure. By cutting out extra procedures and reporting, sales people won’t get bogged down by the daily grind and can devote more energy to what they do best – selling. The DropTask Workflow Board is a great feature for enabling up-to-the-minute tracking of each stage of the sales workflow, without overcomplicating things. In just one glance, you can quickly evaluate your key sales activities and progress, and realign as necessary to meet your goals.

4. Remove roadblocks

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As crazy as things are right now, it’s worth taking time to review all the proposals and campaigns you made throughout the year to identify any significant roadblocks that held your prospects back from purchasing. Make notes of the challenges you faced and what worked well in response. What lessons can you take on board to make this final month a winner? Assist your team in overcoming any obstacles and set clear metrics to hold your sales reps accountable, for instance, outline targets for number of calls or appointments. Support and accountability for tasks can be easily administered through DropTask by establishing effort and urgency levels, attaching files/notes, determining task dependencies and redistributing tasks between team members.

5. Celebrate wins!

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People are motivated by recognition and rewards, and this is especially true for salespeople! A little celebration can mean a lot at the end of the year, when the atmosphere turns festive and joyful. It’s the perfect time to thank your reps for their hard work and reward wins to keep everyone revved up and hungry. Extend the same celebratory spirit to your loyal customers by reaching out to thank them for their custom, wish them ‘happy holidays’, or even send a surprise gift. A small gesture can go a long way in cementing good relationships for the future.

Any other tips for boosting sales success as we reach the end of 2016? We’d love to hear about them.

Do, doing, done – how Kanban helps your flow

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What do you look for in a productivity system? Here at DropTask, we believe that the best productivity methods are those that keep your to-dos in front of you and give you full visibility into what’s happening with your workload. The Kanban approach does just that, enabling you to plan work, monitor progress and review completed tasks all on one visual board (a ‘Kanban’).

The name ‘Kanban’ derives from the Japanese word for ‘signboard’ and the method has its roots in automobile manufacturing. But don’t let that intimidate you, it’s actually one of the simplest tools around for supercharging your day-to-day productivity. With Kanban, tasks are organized in columns, usually by progression (e.g. To-do, Doing, Done). As you power through each of your action items, they are moved along to their new columns, helping you sustain a smooth, continuous workflow. Kanban is ideal for professionals and teams who like to see the big picture at a glance. When using this technique, you have a full view of everything on your plate – all your tasks, due dates, priorities – so you’re never at a loss as to what to work on next.

Getting started with Kanban is easy, as there are only two fundamental ‘rules’ to follow.

1. Visualize your workflow

A Kanban board gives you a simple space in which to lay out and organize your to-dos. Tasks are arranged in vertical columns representing different categories or stages of your workload, so you always have a clear picture of what you need to act on, the progress you’re making and what you’ve accomplished. As an example, for your blog you could set up for columns for Writing, Editing and Published, and each task would relate to a specific article. While for launching a new product, your columns might be based on different marketing activities, such as PR, Advertising and Events. Kanban is super practical for projects that cycle through stages, such as auditing, recruitment and product development. During a recruitment drive, for instance, you can track job applications as they make their way through each step of the process, from CVs to Shortlisted to First Stage Interviews, and so on.

As well as helping you master your individual output, Kanban really comes into its own when used for team collaboration. A public Kanban board is a powerful visual aid for viewing the entire status of a team project and getting a handle on all its phases. Working together, teammates can quickly highlight priorities, allocate manpower where it’s most needed and identify any bottlenecks in workflow. The upshot is that teams spend less time discussing work and more time doing it!

DropTask’s Workflow Board is built around Kanban-style task organization, with columns automatically created for all your to-do categories. Moving tasks is as simple as dragging and dropping them into the right column to visualize your progress. You can add as many details as you want to each task, including visual cues for priority, due dates, checklists, reminders, notes and attachments. Before you know it, you’ll have a visual collection of action points you can readily dive into.

2. Limit what you take on

One of the biggest advantages of Kanban is that it helps you avoid taking on too much in one go. Each task moves through standardized stages so you can track your progress step-by-step. If tasks start piling up in one of the columns on your board, then you know you have too much on your plate! Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria Barry, authors of Personal Kanban: Mapping Work / Navigating Life, recommend applying Work-in-Progress limits to restrict the number of things you work on at the same time – around three ‘in progress’ items should be about right to stop you getting overwhelmed. This capping of tasks keeps a tight rein on your workload so that you focus on the to-dos that matter most, without the inefficiencies of multitasking. The clear sequential structure of DropTask’s Workflow Board means you can quickly see how your categories are filling up, nudging you to concentrate on finishing your current jobs before starting new ones. Not only will you stay out of crisis mode, but you’ll never miss a deadline.

Step-by-step: Create a Kanban Board with DropTask

Now that you know what Kanban’s all about, give it a go using DropTask to get your to-dos under control. Here’s a step-by-step guide to build your board from scratch:

Step 1. Create a project

First things first, click the + Create Project tab under the Menu to set up your project. Give it a name and add any other team members who will be working with you. We’ve called ours ‘Personal Kanban’ and we’ll be using it for at-home tasks.

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Next, click on the Workflow option in the top right of the main navigation bar to view your Kanban-style board, which will be empty of categories or tasks at this point.

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Step 2. Set up your categories

These represent how your to-dos will be grouped (i.e. your Kanban columns) and can take the form of ‘work topics’ or progressive stages of your workflow. We recommend that you start small with three simple columns labeled ‘To-Do’, ‘Doing’ and ‘Done’ (or ‘Backlog’, ‘In Progress’ and ‘Complete’ if you want to be more formal about it) until you get a feel for the system.

  • To-do – work waiting to be done.
  • Doing – work in progress right now.
  • Done – work completed. Done and dusted!

To create your categories in Workflow mode, start by clicking the Create a category option in the left-hand column.

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Type in your category name and select a color, and your first column will appear. You can add as many columns as you like from here by simply dragging the Category bubble from the top navigation bar and dropping it into an empty column. We’ll be using three for this example – To-do, Doing and Done.

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If you ever find you need to re-order your columns, click and drag the re-order icon, situated next to the category label.

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Step 3. Add your tasks

To add a task to a column, click on the Task bubble from the top navigation bar and drag it where you want it. This will open up a box for you to input your task and any other details that might be needed, such as members, start date and due date in the appropriate fields.

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Keep repeating this step to fill your board with tasks. At any point, you can edit or add more detail to a task by clicking on it to open up an information box. You can red flag your high priority tasks, add notes or attachments, and even define the Effort (small, medium, large) needed to get it done.

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Step 4. Keep things flowing!

Now get to work! Use drag and drop to move your tasks across the board in keeping with your progress. Set your own policies or rules for how you manage your workflow. For instance, every time you move a task into the ‘Done’ column, make a point of pulling in the next task from the ‘To-do’ column to keep things moving. And be sure to set a task limit for your ‘Doing’ column so you only juggle x number of tasks at the same time.

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Try turning your own ‘to-dos’ into ‘dones’ with the Kanban method and see if it helps lighten the load, or use it with your team to manage the flow of your projects from start to finish. The Kanban view is exclusively available to members of DropTask for Business. Upgrade from just $99/year. Learn more.

Got Kanban experiences of your own to share? Let us know in the comments below.