Want to know the number one thing you can do to make 2017 your best sales year ever? Make this December highly productive.

Most of your competitors and even co-workers will move into “coast mode” this month. They’ll let up on the accelerator, drink lots of egg nog, take off work early and dream about feasting on sugar cookies made by their dear old Aunt Martha.

These “coasters” have the idea that since they are distracted by the holidays, everyone else is too.

If you want to gain a strong competitive advantage, take action this month while the others coast. Speed up while others slow down. Move while they ease up.

Make your December work hours packed with productivity. Head into the New Year with the momentum of a champion, not with the sluggishness of a turtle.

Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to coach a variety of sales champions, sales stars that have great results, great earnings and great lives. Here’s what I’ve seen work well for these top performers:

  • Don’t assume that customers won’t buy because of the holidays. I’ve seen huge sales happen on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Each and every year big deals are closed in December.

  • Focus on year end buyers. Lots of  companies end their fiscal year on December 31 so, for many, money needs to be allocated by then or lost.

You can also take other actions in December to make sure 2017 is a great year. Here are nine things you should do to prepare for the year ahead:

  1. Write down your 2017 objectives. Break them down into smart objectives.

  2. Determine what you need to learn to achieve your objectives, and implement a plan to make it happen. The best investments you can make are those that help you learn and grow as a person and as a sales professional.

  3. Develop target prospect lists in sectors where you already have credibility. Identify existing customers that can provide you with introductions to others within the sector. Use LinkedIn and other sources for your research.

  4. Identify commercial customers whose fiscal year starts on January 1. For many of these companies, that means new budgets and new monies that can be spent on security. Make sure you’re in front of commercial buyers in December to capture year-end sales, while positioning yourself for orders at the beginning of the new year.

  5. Cultivate relationships with professional bodies or trade associations. They are often looking for speakers at meetings, or articles they can promote to their members via emails or blogs. Talk about how you can help their audience solve problems, not about your products or company. Teach restaurant owners how to stop employee theft, as an example, and you’ll be well on your way to selling more CCTV systems.

  6. Ask for introductions. People are more receptive during the holiday season. December is the perfect time to ask your connections for introductions to others. Find out who they know, check their LinkedIn profile for possible introductions and ask.

  7. Follow target companies and individuals on social media. Follow their comments, groups, mutual contacts and how they interact with others. Work to create your own visibility in their groups.

  8. Connect with a complimentary solution provider. This is a company/person that sells to the same audience you do, but is not a competitor. Together, you can network, exchange leads, and conduct joint promotions to make more sales.

  9. Contact existing customers. Offer a sincere thank you for their business. Offer to help them with any issues they may be having. Connect with them on social media and offer any free resources available that might be of help to them.

With proper planning and execution, 2017 can be your best sales year ever. The path to make that happen starts right now, in December. Work hard this month, take the actions outlined in this article and you’re sure to see great sales in 2017!