OK. It’s time. I’m calling it.

Time to let go of 2019 and start moving forward, looking ahead. I mean it. Next week is Thanksgiving. Unless you work on a very, very short sales cycle, you’re done for 2019.

Every year around this time, I see companies and sales professionals try to make a desperate push to make late November and December sales happen. Realistically, for most of us, that just isn’t going to happen. Unless you sell Christmas trees or wrapping paper, chasing the year end business is usually counter productive.

Here’s how the movie goes. First, someone panics. Maybe an executive, or a manager, or even the individual sales rep reviews numbers and the revelation hits them that based on current billing rate, they are going to fall short on the end of year goal. Then comes the push, defined as some scramble combination of calls, emails, messenger pigeons and desperate pleas. After that, the “if you buy before year end” pricing comes out, polluting the value of your product or service that you spent the whole year defending. Lastly, the pressure mounts and you finish the year begging to close a few last deals, only to come in the first week of January, deflated and exhausted. Sound familiar?

I hate that movie. I’ve seen it, and I know how it ends. No thank you. I’ll opt out of that.

Face it. The week before Thanksgiving, if you haven’t already put the 2019 number in the bag, odds are you are not going to.

What you can do, is make sure you are coming into 2020 not exhausted and defeated, but primed and with a plan for success. To me that means two things.

1 – Enjoy the down time. Relax and reconnect to what matters most. Family, friends, ect. Set personal goals and connect them to what you do professionally. Lock down your “why” and use it to drive your work.

2 – Plan and prepare. That means reading all the reports you haven’t had time to read and finding trends that you can leverage in 2020. It means reading a few books or looking at a few videos to hone your skills and abilities. It means calling your best customers and saying thank you, as well as asking them for a reference letter, and leads.

80% of sales people will show up to work on January 2nd and start to plan the year. That’s the same 80% of sales people who are on the wrong side of the Pareto principle. Get ahead of that curve!

Now, before every sales manager across America sends me hate mail, let me clarify one thing. I’m not advocating you sandbag sales into January. By all means keep talking to customers, making presentations and working. What I’m saying is don’t create an artificial pressure to close that business by December 31st. In the long game, it doesn’t matter when the deal closes. It just matters that it gets moved to a yes or no, in the usual time frame that’s healthy for your business.

If you made your 2019 number, congratulations. If you didn’t, I’m sorry. Either way, NOW is the time to set up 2020 for success.