21 questions B2B sales professionals must ask themselves about 2021

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Introspection is the spirit as we close out every calendar year. It is a time to think about the successes and challenges in our personal lives and mark our intentions for the new year. You might have plans to improve your fitness, spend more time with family, or try a new hobby.

As 2021 closes, it is also an excellent time to reflect on your performance as a sales professional. I am sure that you can count any number of successes or failures in the last year. Perhaps you already have ideas for resolving the challenges in B2B sales that you faced. If not, this month is an excellent time to reflect and create your professional intentions for 2022.

1. What did I excel at this year?

Focusing on successes enables you to replicate those situations or improve on them in future. You might consider the actions that led you to hit a sales goal, or perhaps you did not win a piece of business, but the prospect gave you positive feedback on your approach and attitude.

2. What led to my success?

Sales professionals need to reflect on the specific actions that led to their success to improve their performance in sales. You might analyse your approach when engaging a client that you won. Perhaps you built a sales deck that landed well with the client. No matter your success, pinpoint the action that most contributed to your win.

3. Did I exercise the right mindset?

Mindset has a significant impact on actions and outcomes. If you approach every deal with your mind focused on failure, you will struggle to see success. While the right mindset does not guarantee a win, it will significantly impact your approach to selling and help you through the rough patches that often happen in sales.

4. Where did I slip up this year?

Perhaps you missed a goal, but it was due to poor performance rather than the customer not being ready to buy. I recommend listing the areas where you performed poorly and why so that you can plan your next steps for growth and prevent these issues in the future.

5. Why did I underperform?

I encourage you to avoid blaming outside forces here. If you performed poorly, think about what you could have done differently or what behaviour you could have changed. Think of this reflection as an empowering exercise. You might have made a mistake, but that also means you are the best person to fix it.

6. What was the biggest lesson I learnt?

Perhaps you received feedback from your manager, a prospect or a colleague. Maybe you made a mistake that you learned a great deal from. Think back to the one event you feel shaped you as a salesperson this year. What did you learn, and how did you change in response to it?

7. Where did I improve my knowledge and skills?

Not only were you busy overcoming the challenges of sales this year, you likely spent time improving your knowledge and skills. I encourage you to reflect on where you expanded your knowledge and skills. You could also take this time to flag any areas you would like to learn more about next year.

8. How well did I leverage Marketing this year?

Sales and marketing may be two separate professions, but they make two halves of the same team. Sales success relies on accurate and reliable data from marketing. You need information about what is going on with a particular prospect; assets they downloaded, events they attended and marketing emails they engaged with. Therefore, it is critical to examine your relationship with marketing and ensure you leverage their work where possible.

9. Did I map the market?

From the perspective of sales, market mapping is about examining the number of prospects that would be ideal customers for your business. A market map highlights prospects within your target region, industries, or job titles. This exercise enables you to see the size of your target market and the opportunities within it.

10. Did I cold call this year?

Many salespeople avoid cold calling to avoid the feelings of rejection that arise when someone hangs up the phone. It is a difficult practice to maintain, day in, day out, but it is necessary to secure more business. If you cold-called 100 people this year and only 1 bought from you, that is still a sale. If you did not cold call anyone, you lost that potential piece of business.

11. Did I prospect with discipline?

Prospecting can be a repetitive and mundane process. Cold calling does not come with a good reputation, and the high rejection rates can certainly leave an impact on your mindset. But, prospecting with discipline, as in committing to a daily prospecting routine, is crucial to increasing the amount of business you close. 

12. Did I burn through leads too quickly?

Lead burning is usually a sign that you are approaching prospects without properly listening to them first. It causes you to come across as ingenuine and can damage attempts to re-engage with those businesses in future. You should ask yourself: are you meeting with people to tell and sell, or meeting them to hear them out?

13. Did you count your eggs more than once?

If you speak to multiple people within one account, do you count that as having hit your meeting goal for the week? Similarly, you might speak to two people from the same company and count them as two separate opportunities, even though they draw from the same budget. You should analyse your play and note if you made this mistake in 2021.

14. Did I keep my pipeline real this year?

If you were not realistic about the opportunities in your pipeline or lied to yourself about the chance of a close, you need to change your mindset when it comes to your pipeline. If you do not have a realistic view of your pipeline, you cannot forecast accurately or meet your sales goals. You may also waste time on the wrong opportunities.

15. Did I purge my pipeline?

It feels satisfying to have a full pipeline, but if you do not take the time to purge your pipeline for relevance and accuracy, your full pipeline can become a burden. Consider how much time you spent on opportunities you knew would not close for the sake of a full pipeline. You should purge your pipeline once per quarter at a minimum or, ideally, once per month. 

16. Did I embrace digital selling this year?

We have experienced another year of social distancing and another year in which digital selling remained the norm. Even as Australia opens up, digital selling will remain a staple in the coming years. Those who refuse to embrace it may lose potential business, while skilled digital sellers will win business across cities and states they cannot visit in person.

17. Did I write content this year?

Your marketing team might be creating content to drive SEO, but they are not privy to the conversations you have with prospects. Your conversations with prospects and clients are full of excellent content ideas. You are also a subject matter expert as you sell the product and know how to position it in a thought leadership piece.

18. Have I analysed how the market evolved in the last year?

Salespeople have to constantly analyse changes in the market to provide an accurate forecast. You should do this to assess where your business sits in the market and how the market has changed. By analysing market changes, you can set achievable goals for next year.  

19. Did I take note of my competition this year?

Salespeople need to know what other companies are doing within their space. When you take the time to research the competitive landscape, it will give you insight into what your prospects want and how they want it delivered. You can leverage this information when tweaking your approach to prospecting.

20. Have I kept a close eye on my competitors’ activity?

Your competitors are a great source of inspiration to gather ideas on securing more prospects. For example, if you notice that your competitor is leveraging specific methods to close more sales, then you may move into exploring that area. Keeping an eye on your competition will also help you anticipate problems and provide better customer solutions.

21. Did I deeply analyse my new competitor landscape?

Just like you would identify the activity of your long-standing competitors, new competitors are also a great source of comparison that you should analyse deeply. New competitors can be a source of fresh techniques in the market. Deeply analysing new competitors not only helps you stay ahead of them but shows where you could improve your strategy.

Improve your sales game with Resonate

How satisfied were you with the performance of your sales function in 2021? Did your sales team deliver to the set goals and required objectives? Did the team, as a collective, meet quota? Did each member of the sales team meet quota? How confident are you that 2022 will be a good year for your sales function?

At Resonate, we specialise in enabling the success of sales B2B organisations. We guide you throughout the sales process. We help develop the sales strategy, and an associated plan, that converts the strategy to execution so your organisation can get predictable revenue over the coming quarters and years. We also provide ongoing advisory and consulting services to ensure your strategy is realised and your plan becomes a reality. Our focus is on helping the sales organisation achieve its quota and meet targets predictably and with consistency.

Please visit our B2B Sales page for more on our sales solutions.

RK is the CEO & Co-Founder of Resonate.

RK is Resonate’s chief strategist, thought leader, and IT industry veteran. Our clients depend on RK to advise on their business strategy, channel strategy, and sales strategy. 

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