It’s a new year filled with hope and promise, a clean slate, and new sales goals. Hopefully you experienced a good year in 2014 and got to celebrate a little bit, but it is time now to move on to attacking this year’s goals.

Here is a quick checklist for sales managers to make sure everyone is focused correctly.

1. All individual salespeople must know the expectations of them with regard to sales, including where the sales need to come from – new clients vs. expansion of existing clients or some combination thereof.

2. The compensation plan must be clearly articulated to each of the salespeople on the team and they must understand which outcomes are being rewarded. (Read more about sales compensation plan considerations here.)

3. An individual and group meeting schedule is set and all sales team members have committed to robust participation in both.

4. You have met (or are scheduled to meet this week) with each salesperson individually to hear their personal goals for the year. It is one thing that the company has set sales goals, but it is more impactful if you understand each individual’s goals and really learn what they are working for. Could it be they are working to remodel their kitchen? Or buy a new car or boat? Whatever their desires are, ensure they write them down, know how much they will cost, and then help them calculate the sales they need to close to be able to earn the income necessary to make those desires become reality.

5. In conjunction with understanding their big goals it is imperative that they construct an activity plan that will help them reach those goals. I recommend a quarterly activity plan. This is the plan that will guide their behavior every day for a quarter. At the end of the quarter it may be necessary or desirable to tweak those activities based on performance…or it may be appropriate to stay the course, but plan on a quarterly review at minimum. Also plan to discuss each week whether or not they executed on their individual activity plan. Set consequences with them for not executing. The key is that there is buy-in from them, that they own the plan and the consequences.

6. Have an understanding of the marketing calendar and any campaigns that might be running, whether you directly manage this aspect or not. You may not have insight into the whole year but start with the first quarter. Analyze whether or not to run sales contests in conjunction with any marketing campaigns. Make 2015 the year that your marketing and sales activities work in tandem, in a well thought-out fashion.

7. Finally, make sure you go into the New Year with a clean and realistic pipeline. If you didn’t do it at the end of the year, make sure you go through and do a thorough analysis of all the deals in the pipeline with each individual deal owner and clean it up. Remember that all deals need an AGREED TO next step, which means both the prospect/client and the salesperson have agreed to the next step, and appointments and commitments are scheduled. Follow this motto: “Move it or blow it up.”

That’s it. Follow this sales manager checklist and then make sure to keep the discipline of coaching, holding your salespeople accountable to their agreed-upon behaviors and activities, and be prepared to motivate each individual on your team to reach their goals. Make this year your sales team’s best year yet!

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