Archives For Sales Plan

“Have you been reading the investing forecasts for next year? The most optimistic forecasts expect more of the same—slow economic growth, a stock market that’s vulnerable to every little hiccup, continued high unemployment and a sluggish housing market.”…Dave Ramsey

I expect Dave is right, however that doesn’t mean your business can’t grow over the next twelve months. Whether you run a company, or sell for one, or are in charge of marketing, there are some simple things you can be doing to continue  steady deliberate growth.  Some things you should be considering before year end:

1. Have a Plan!  Your plan can’t just be, “We need to grow the bottom line,” or “Let’s grow 50% in the coming year.”  I see these kinds of statements all the time, and they don’t materialize.  A plan involves the primary solution areas you will focus on, marketing plans and schedules, and strategy.  Plan out marketing events and campaigns through the year, not just next month’s effort.  Consider training needs as well.  But also look at where time was wasted in 2011, what efforts failed and why, where gross profit was lost and why, what kinds of projects seem most profitable, and what client profiles are working well.  Managers and owners should be scrutinizing the team. Make sure the right people are on board, and trim non-producers.  Also, consider where each player should be focused in the coming year.  This might be a great time to consider doing a joint strategy session – I am scheduling companies right now!

2. Look at your value proposition. It might be time to invest in strategies that are driving business in this economy.  If you have been working on some area for five years and it’s not working, it might be time to move on.  Also, consider your opportunities with security.  Security offerings gave resellers an incredible boost in 2011, while other technology areas did poorly.  Consider attending my online workshop – Making Money with Security (Click for more info), in January…This program has been a game changer for many over the past seven years.

3. Build you consulting capabilities.  Learning to interview, discover, and assess is absolutely a differentiator.  Companies that just “sell products” are in trouble, unless they have something very unique to offer.  I don’t need to name names here – just look around.  If you are a typical reseller, selling the big names, you are likely seeing it too.  Your value must come from your own ability to consult and make application to the products you sell.  Big name manufacturers are not going to drive your profits in 2012.  I just completed an important book, From Vendor to Adviser, this year.  Read it…but also consider getting some training in this area.  I have been running free webinars on topics presented in this book, and have a workshop which will be announced shortly.  The goal being, to bring sales people up to speed on the skills consultants use to sell and fulfill very large projects.  Check it out here…(Click)

Don’t wait until January to plan – remember, a business without a plan, is a plan to fail.

© 2011, David Stelzl

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If you’ve read Stephen Covey’s classic on life management, Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, you may remember habit 2, Beginning with the End In Mind.  This is key to any great sales call, marketing event, or other demand generation activity.  Having done many executive luncheons, one of my clients’ first questions is always, how many people should we invite.  On their mind is, “How many can we attract”.  My first question back is usually, “How many can you effectively follow up?”

Obviously there are the preparations that take place before a call, but what happens after you present?  Do you have a planned ending to your meeting that leads to, what Seth Godin terms, Permission?  And more importantly, do you have the bandwidth to stay on top of everyone who responds to your “program”?   Going in without a plan is like going in with a plan to waste your call list.

© 2011, David Stelzl

 

Selling installation services along with your product is not consultative.  Neither is training, RFP responses, fulfilling orders, or selling to those who already know what they need.  Most of these things are sold on price alone.  There may be a hint of existing customer loyalty, but in today’s economy, don’t expect that to last.  If you are dealing with purchasing, IT, or other procurement functions primarily, consider yourself a transactional product sales person.  This role is destined to be replaced by Google.  Now is the time to rethink your strategy…don’t give up, instead get a plan to transform your sales in 2011!

© 2010, David Stelzl

Illustrations by David Stelzl

Do you create business or just fulfill it?  Look at your pipeline…where do your deals mostly come from?  Referrals?  Referrals are good, however, there just aren’t enough of them.  When the economy is weak, companies cut back on expansion, decision making moves higher up the ladder, and sales cycles lengthen.  Only those who are able to create business can experience long term success in this type of market.

The 5% Rule

Michael Bosworth, back in 1995, wrote, “Assume 5% of the people you might call on are in the market for some new thing (in our case,  new technology), the remaining 95% don’t perceive they have a need” (Paraphrased of course).  But they do have needs, they just don’t know what they are, or feel they are impossible to solve right now.  The average sales person is going after that 5% group, and it’s crowded!  The competition is fierce.

Creating business

Creating business means, going after the 95%.  The creative sales person gains access to buyers who don’t know they have a need, and then demonstrates that need with compelling justification and a track record to prove they can fulfill what they’re talking about.  Security is just one area that is predictably needed in every account.  Most companies are doing the wrong things, and security issues are going unaddressed.  But how do you find these people, and what does it take to move them forward?

The Value Proposition

We’ve been lied to.  We’ve been lulled into thinking people want great technology features; the latest gadget (Unfortunately, the latest gadget sells for about $500 and is made by Apple, which you probably don’t sell).  But they don’t.  At least the economic buyers don’t (well, maybe they do want an iPad).  They want strong businesses, profitable businesses, efficient businesses, and secure businesses.  The “value proposition” must focus on real business value, and that means you’re addressing real business issues.  As you’re planning for next year, start thinking through your message, your selling strategy, and what you say in your meetings, especially those early meetings while introducing your company.  Is your message unique? Compelling? Interesting?  And are you getting in front of people who can make a decision?  Are you getting demoted back down to non-decision makers after a first meeting?  Be honest with yourself.  If you’re answers are, “Not very unique” and “Not associating with higher level managers”, your messaging and positing are likely central to the problem.  From there, you need a way to reach the 95%.  And that means getting the message out.  Events, social networking, educational presentations,…there are numerous ways to do it.  So, bottom line; first you must have a message built to stimulate action, then a means to take it to market.  This is the foundation of your 2011 sales strategy.

© 2010, David Stelzl

Your 2009 Vision

November 4, 2008 — Leave a comment

This week’s Profit Program Podcast http://dstelzl.podbean.com/ begins a series of three podcasts that will help explain what the profit program is and how it works.  As we approach 2009 it’s imperative that you set some goals and create a direction for your business.  No goals means little to no growth.  Remember, Hope is not a Strategy.   In the first of the series I focus on your Entrepreneurial vision – what you aim to be 12-18 months from now; in the second we talk about your mission as a sales person (which affects your personal branding); and finally I will take you through a model that explains why so many sales people run out of business after years of success.  It’s actually a cycle that, if not countered with the right strategy, will eventually affect your personal performance as the products you’re selling commoditize.  Whether you are a regular listener or not I would urge you to begin thinking about your 2009 plan.  Two months is not a long time.  Also, don’t forget to vote – did I mention, “Today is election day”.