We’re all guilty of the beginning of year lull that follows the end of year madness. The challenge is that last year’s madness was at least partially driven by not having a strong and strategic enough start twelve months earlier. With that in mind, below are ten sales initiatives that you can––and should––take right now to get the year started.

10 Sales Initiatives for a Monster 2016

1. Dig into last year.

This one is the foundation for everything else. Go through a handful of your closed deals, the easy wins, the hard wins…the big loses, and the no decisions. Everything. Start looking for the shared characteristics of the companies AND of your execution of the deals. Did you run bulletproof discovery? Did you skip steps in your sales process? Were they bought into a specific value proposition? From a key industry? Figure out the themes so you can…

2. Identify what a winner looks like.

Stop chasing un-winnable business! By applying what you know about past winners you’ll win more in the future. Start by documenting what a winner is so you have a lens to put each of your new opportunities through. Take the time to do this now and you’ll save yourself a lot of heartache this year!

3. Clean out your pipeline.

Once you document the winners you’re going to be looking at lot of deals in your pipeline that just don’t align. That’s why you didn’t win them at the end of last year! With a finite capacity to work deals, every un-winnable deal you’re working is robbing you of time to work your good customers/prospects – so get rid of them!

4. Lost to a competitor? Call those lost prospects.

You lost some deals to your competitors last year. We all do. There’s no reason to turn your back like a scorned lover. You should call them now because 1) it’s a great way to learn how you can improve and 2) it’s the only way to make sure that if something goes wrong, you’re waiting in the wings to pick up the pieces.

5. Call for referrals!

“91% of customers say they’d give a referral, but only 11% of salespeople ask for them.” – Dale Carnegie

“84% of B2B decision makers start their purchase with a referral.” – Edelman Trust

“Buyers are four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend.” – Nielsen

“There’s no excuse not to.” – Me

6. Look at how you spend your time.

Start next Monday by keeping a log of how you spend every minute of your day. When the week is done, classify how you spent your time and prioritize and plan for what’s important. It gives you insight into problems to fix (like how I was checking email 15+ times per day) and what you need to prioritize.

7. Calendar recurring times for what’s important.

Are you not finding time to prospect? Not getting around to reading up on new sales tactics? Spending too much time in email? Calendar specific times now, and you won’t skip what’s important. If you don’t, good luck “getting around” to finding new customers.

8. Get real-time advice.

Foundational sales books are critical. The problem is that the “next big thing” book that’s being written today won’t be published for eight months. Meanwhile, the guy who’s writing it is attending meet-ups and networking events giving talks on the most cutting edge tactics now. Read content from thought leaders in real time (check if they have a blog, like ours!) and meet the most forward thinking salespeople in person.

9. Get excited again.

All that content your marketing team is putting out is gold, and as often as you send it––when was the last time you really absorbed it? When was the last time you watched a testimonial video or read a white paper? When was the last time you went through that setup? Re-acquaint yourself with how excited you were when you started, so that enthusiasm transfers when you talk with customers and prospective customers.

10. Follow the nine-month year.

Take your annual quota and recalculate it into a nine-month year. At the beginning of the year (when you’re reenergized) is the time to set your sights on blowing out your number, not hitting it on 12/31.

I’m a big believer that there are no “silver bullets” in sales, but if you’re doing the things that work more often––and earlier––you’ll set yourself up for that monster 2016.