December 20, 2018

'Twas the Night Before Q1… How to Plan Now for Your Company’s Success in 2019

m3-blog-T’was-the-Night-Before-Q1

'Twas the night before Q1,

And all through your biz, 

Not a worker was stirring,

Not even your intern, that smart wiz.

Social media posts were scheduled with care,

In hopes that followers soon would be there.

The buyers were snuggled asleep in their beds,

While visions of savings danced through their heads.

Your CEO at her desk and you in your chair,

Had Q4 earnings you need to compare.

Away to Excel, you opened in a flash

Calculated some formulas,

Discovered more cash.

Then your wondering eyes realized what was near:

It was almost Q1,

Oh no, oh dear!

More rapid than eagles the next quarter came,

Year after year, it was never the same. 

Your CEO exclaimed, “It’s nearly Q1! It’s only in one day!”

So now let’s make a plan,

Then we’ll be successful in Q1, Q2, Q3 and always.

Planning for Success in Q1 of 2019

We’ve all been there. It’s almost the first quarter of the new year and you’re still scrambling to complete last-minute items on your to-do list. You didn’t mean to procrastinate, but the New Year and the new quarter are almost here, and you’re still not prepared.

Even when you’re down to the wire, you can still set yourself up for success in Q1 (and beyond) by taking a few key steps. Here are some ways to ensure you’ll achieve your Q1 goals and accomplish your objectives in the first few months of 2019 and those that follow.

1. Look at Q1 to Q3 Results

You likely haven’t tallied up Q4 results yet, so look at your Q1 to Q3 results to create goals for Q1 of 2019. See what you did that led to success and what you could improve upon the next time around. What strategies worked, and what didn’t? Did you reach your marketing and sales KPIs? Did you grow revenue as much as you’d hoped? Take time to reflect upon the past year and decide on new and improved strategies going forward.

2. Create a Plan for the Entire Year

Before you get into specifics for the quarter, start big. Determine what larger goals you want to achieve in the year ahead. Do you hope to increase brand awareness? Boost your leads by 50 percent? Hire 10 more salespeople with relevant experience? Find better sales software? Then start to think about how you will reach these goals in Q1 or how to make a big impact on reaching your yearly goals.

3. Create a One-Page Plan for the Quarter

You and your employees need something to refer back to quickly throughout the quarter when you’re tracking your progress. If you have a pages-long plan, you’re likely not going to have the time to read through it on a regular basis. Instead, come up with a one-page plan, and divide your goals into focus areas, specific actions people must take and dates they must take action by. Also define what success looks like for you and come up with KPIs. Essentially, whenever you determine your goals, make sure they are S.M.A.R.T.: Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Results focused. Time based.

For instance, if your goal is to generate more leads online in Q1, determine the number of website visitors you want to come to your site every month. That will be your KPI. Next, have your team’s SEO expert perform an analysis of your site within the first two weeks of Q1. Be specific about the analysis. Write down goals like, “Generate a list of 20 keywords to target and kickstart the company blog. Rewrite pillar pages and include these keywords.” Having one person do one task will expedite the process. A workflow platform like Teamwork or Trello may also be helpful to track the progress of all tasks.

If you don't have an SEO expert, have a full technical SEO audit done on your site by an experienced SEO expert or agency. They will be able to surface issues you likely never knew you had! 

4. Close Any Sales

Perhaps the end of the quarter came sooner than your sales reps anticipated, and they weren’t able to close some of their deals. Achieve some wins right off the bat for Q1 by making sure your reps close their sales. After a long winter break, your sales reps will be motivated to increase their numbers in Q1 and make even bigger deals. Getting those loose ends tied up before they start focusing on new clients is key in Q1.

5. Evaluate Your Software

You need the right software and platforms to support your operations. The end of Q4 is a great time for looking at your software and determining if you’re getting the right support, as well as the best price possible, needed to function on a daily basis. You can find the best software by first making a list of everything you need it for, like sales and marketing processes.

See how you can improve your workflows, and don’t just look at shiny new features that software companies are offering. For instance, it may seem great that a project management platform sends out emails every time a task is completed, but it could actually end up being distracting to your employees.

Make sure you get software recommendations from other companies in your industry, and that you do your own independent research online. Ask for free demonstrations and pricing based on your company size and specific needs. Finally, make sure you train everyone thoroughly on the software you choose so that they can be productive right away.

6. Hold Yourself and Your Team Accountable

Whether you and your team are testing out new software, closing sales or trying to achieve specific goals, you need to hold yourselves accountable. Check in with employees and ensure they are staying on track. Review your one-page quarterly plan weekly and make sure the goals are being met. If not, figure out what is holding them back. Even creating daily to-do lists for yourself and encouraging your employees to do the same will help with accountability.

7. Plan a Review Process and Celebration

It’s important to schedule a day every quarter to review the previous quarter and celebrate your successes. Use this day to recognize your employees’ efforts and call out specific team members who went above and beyond to achieve their goals. You can even provide incentives like raises or a paid day off to encourage employees to work harder in the next quarter. Also, you can show your employees that you value their opinions by asking for feedback on what you can improve the next time around.

The end of Q1 is here, but you don’t have to fret. By taking time to establish specific goals and KPIs, as well as coming up with larger goals for the exciting year ahead, you can ensure that you’re going to have a productive, fruitful and successful 2019.

Request your FREE 30-minute marketing assessment today!

Kylie Ora Lobell

Kylie Ora Lobell is a magazine editor and marketing coordinator for madison/miles media. She has written for a number of marketing blogs, including Convince and Convert, CMO and Marketo.