Sales leaders are trying to find creative ways to help their teams be successful. The struggle remains how to best allocate time between the business you have and the business you need. It’s a monumental task, and the only way I know to tackle these huge challenges is to break them down into key areas of opportunity. I’ll summarize them into a checklist at the end of the blog.
Existing clients are usually the best source of new business. That new business can come in a variety of ways. Here are the two most common: we react to a need or inquiry they present to us; or we make recommendations of what they should be doing based on what we know about their business. One is reactive, and one is proactive. Which one should you be doing? The answer — both.
New Business from New Clients
I look at new business development and think of five attributes that need to be addressed. They begin with research and lead generation. Honing your unique selling proposition (USP), or “why us” statement, is another key attribute. Then move ahead with the ability to track, keep score and modify as needed, and finally, lather rinse repeat.
The research phase is one of the most important, and one that gets overlooked the most. Face it, you can have the best process around, but if you’re talking to the wrong person with the wrong message, you will not be successful. Make the time to do the research and have a plan before you put your process into motion.
Inbound and outbound lead generation strategies are critical success factors in all sales plans. Inbound can be referred to as attracting people to your company. This is what we’re seeing on social media, websites, content marketing, etc. Outbound marketing is contacting your prospects directly. This can be done via email, lumpy mail, direct mail, and let’s not forget the actual telephone.
What’s your story and how well can you share it? Your USP should answer the question, “What do you do and why should I care?” You should be so good at this that it just sounds like having a conversation. Practice it, be the best at it.
If you want to get better at what you’re doing, you need to keep track of your efforts. It’s no different than being an elite athlete. These folks keep track of everything they do to help ensure success. When they are not progressing at the rate and pace that they expect, they review what they’ve done, and modify as needed. If your sales team wants to be the best, they need to track their activities, keep score, and modify as needed.
Once you’ve determined a formula that works for you and your team, repeat it.
Sales Time Management
Most sales leaders and sales people that I speak to will begin conversations with, “I am so busy these days.” Frankly, I would agree that most are busy, not all, but most. The question is: Are they busy at doing the right things? Are they doing the things that they are uniquely qualified to do, and are they the only ones in the company that can do it? I often ask a sales rep, “What did you do today that a really good CSR could not have done?” You don’t want to know their response.
Many reps run through the day putting out fires. They are reacting to client requests, and chasing down answers from the shop. In fact, most are very good at doing this. They excel at it. They plan for it. Sales teams only have one thing that they can sell, and that is their time. Helping them manage their time effectively, and setting priorities will go a long way to helping you reach your ultimate goals. Think of it as a resource allocation—if they are the only ones who can effectively deliver your USP, how can you help them find more time to do so?
We could fill pages with the attributes that good sales people need to have in order to be effective in their job. But when I look at some of the top performers, they have an uncanny ability to tell their story, and they ask revealing questions—like a top journalist might do. They are great listeners and are creative in their approach. When they finish their presentation, they’ve made it clear that they are the ones uniquely qualified to work with that client.
What are the 12 Steps for Sales Growth?
- React to your customers inquiries and make it easy for them to do business with you.
- Learn your customers business, so you can proactively make recommendations of what they should be doing and why.
- Learn how to effectively and efficiently research a prospect company and find the right contact(s) to reach out to.
- Develop an inbound lead generation strategy that fits your business and that you can execute effectively (or hire a third-party to do it for you).
- Whether it’s through direct mail, email, social media, or simply picking up the phone, have an outbound strategy that you can be consistent with. Minimize the starting and stopping due to lack of focus and bright objects in the room.
- Make sure your USP is current, meaningful and relevant to the prospects with whom you are trying to connect.
- Create a system that allows you to track and keep score of your efforts. Whether it’s a CRM, Trello or other like-type applications, or even index cards, have a system that works for your organization.
- Execute your plan on purpose.
- Help your sales team with good time management skills.
- Make sure that all the members of your team are doing things that only they are uniquely qualified to do.
- Setting priorities is half the battle in managing a task list. Without them, these lists can be overwhelming and lead to unproductive results.
- Practice, practice, and practice some more. Be the very best at telling your story, asking great questions, and sincerely listening to your customer.
You’ll continue to see good opportunities for your business going forward, but they may not look like what you’ve seen in the past. You’ll need a sharp set of tools to be effective at keeping and growing your existing clients as well as winning new business. As a sales leader, continue improving your leadership, communication, execution, marketing and sales skills.
Don’t take anything for granted and don’t become complacent. This will be a unique opportunity to capitalize on your experience and help your team earn the business that it deserves.
I welcome any thoughts or questions; please add them below or reach out to me directly.
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic counsel, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at [email protected].