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T-minus 45ish days and counting. This year is coming to a close and even though you’re working hard to squeeze all the revenue you can out of 2019, it’s time to begin thinking about next year.

There are 2 ways I like to help my clients prepare for the next year:

#1 Strategic Planning Sessions

Annual strategic planning gives your organization an opportunity to review what worked and what didn’t this year and to plan for the next 12 months. All your key executives and even key individual contributors should be involved in this exercise. Here are the key areas to discuss during strategic planning;

  • Review your Mission, Vision, and Values – These should be reviewed on an annual basis and adjusted or added to based-on changes to the focus of the business or cultural shifts.
  • SWOT analysis – Review your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats to success. Be honest with yourselves regarding these areas. It doesn’t do the organization any good if people are afraid to be upfront about issues with a department, the company or shifts in the industry that could impact business.
  • Set Targets – I’m still a fan of The Rockefeller Habits. The book offers a great framework for fast growth companies around setting goals, alignment and execution. The key here is to set 2-3 targets for the year that the entire company can rally around and impact.
  • Actions, Accountabilities and KPIs – Now that you’ve set your targets you need to discuss what daily actions and by whom will need to take place in order to reach those targets. You’ll also want to establish KPIs or a score card to measure your company’s progress on a monthly and quarterly basis.

Alignment is the purpose of the strategic planning process. You need to make sure the entire organization if rowing together towards a common goal.

#2 SKOs

Sales Kick-offs have become a Q1 staple in most companies. I don’t believe that the sales team is the only department that should be involved in an annual or quarterly SKO. Marketing, Customer Success, Product, and even Finance can positively contribute to a successful SKO.

Much like the Strategic Planning session for Executives, the SKO is meant to align the sales organization and those individuals and departments that support those responsible for revenue. Here are some things to consider as you plan your SKO:

  • Have a Theme – This will ideally align with the targets that were set during Strategic Planning.
  • Motivate – No matter what happened last year, this is a new year and needs new energy! Make sure that each session and activity has positive energy and makes the team want to win.
  • Train – All good SKOs have a training component and I don’t mean product training! Soft skill or sales skills is where the focus should be. This is a great opportunity to bring in outside trainers or consultants to give your sales team a new voice and perspective. You can also use this time to do small group breakouts to practice the skills that were taught.
  • Team Build – SKOs are a great opportunity for employees to get to know each other on a more personal level. This is why I feel so strongly about the SKO reaching other beyond the sales team to include other departments.
  • Storytelling – This is best done by inviting a customer or 2 to join the party! No one in your organization with tell a success story with the same passion and enthusiasm as a customer.

A good SKO will leave the team energized, excited and motivated to make this the best year yet. Make sure you have a follow up strategy to help continue the momentum that was generated by the SKO. We’ve all been to conferences and left feeling like a rock star to only a few weeks later feel more like a back-up singer.

The key to a successful 2020 starts with planning. Make sure your teams set aside time during this busy season to start to reflect, deliberate and plan for next year so that execution is the easy part! Good Luck! 


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