Three Steps to Getting from Here to There

By Mike Philie
In November 19, 2015

As you compare this year’s sales to last year, there’s a pit in your stomach. While there is some new business, there’s not enough to make up for the attrition from your long-time accounts. You haven’t lost that work, it’s just not happening. You knew that the business landscape was changing and you have been talking about it at each sales meeting and at the managers meetings as well. How will you change the course you’re on?

You worked with the sales team to develop a sales plan that they have all bought into. And while you’ve not been successful recruiting new sales folks in several years, your existing reps insist that they are trying to find new business. The investment in the new CRM is taking forever to get any traction and the VDP and storefront technology that everyone said “you’ve got to have,” is barely being used. Sound familiar? Ready for the silver bullet, the magic pill that will make this all better? Sorry, there isn’t one. The reality is that it’s hard work and the good news is that no one is standing in your way!

While I know this doesn’t describe your company, you are probably aware of a few like it. What should you, I mean they, do? Here are three ideas to consider:

Strategic account review and action plan

  • Work diligently and on purpose to increase your win percentage on projects. Improving your win rate even by only 3-4% could have a dramatic, immediate impact on your business. Better market intelligence, value engineering and solving problems – not just bidding – will go a long way to increasing your win rate.
  • Your current clients buy things that you can do but they buy it from others…why? Do they know that you can help them with these services?You’ll be surprised by what you hear.
  • Meet with your top clients at a higher level. You’re not trying to change the buyer-seller relationship, you’re simply trying to learn what’s keeping the boss up at night and determine how you could help.

Lead generation and Business development best practices

  • Create or fine tune the company’s lead generation machine. How many new leads did you get last week or last month and more importantly, what stage of your sales process are they now in?
  • Starting a prospecting blitz today won’t fill holes in your production schedule tomorrow but you’ve got to start somewhere. Create expectations for each rep to generate new names and meet new people each week. It’s has to become part of the fabric of your company. It’s the lifeline of your continued growth.
  • New ideas and relevancy are key to attracting and keeping the attention of prospects. I worked with a guy that always went into a meeting with a new idea for that client or prospect. Jerry would always say “I’ve got a lot of ideas, every once in a while there’s a good one.” I learned a lot from Jerry. When was the last time you or your reps served up an idea?

Eliminate any internal impediments

  • You may also know these as sales prevention departments. You know, the folks who never read the job ticket that says “This is a first-time customer – please double check everything” and sure as sugar that first project has issues!! Stop, fix this today as it is killing the spirit of growth within your business.
  • Make your company easy to do business with. My CEO Roundtable colleague Bob Rosen and I talk about the internal snafu’s that make it difficult to conduct business at the rate and pace that is expected today. Why do we make it so hard for buyers to buy from us?
  • After awarding you a project, how many times will the client call or email to ask “how’s it going?” The answer is too many times. You can change this by ‘pushing’ information and updates to your client instead of them asking for it.

One more idea (I know, I said three things but I couldn’t help myself)

  • Pick up the pace. Sorry but this is not a 9-5 gig. There are great opportunities out there that can be had with some creative thinking, collaboration and plain old hard work. Get up and grab it. Remember, there are those that make things happen, those that watch things happen and those that wonder what happened. You choose which group to be in.

There is a lot involved in making these changes and this blog post is just a start. If you’re working on improving the sales trajectory of your business, let’s discuss what’s in your way of making the changes your business needs – mphilie@epicomm.org or 201-523-6302. I look forward to hearing from you.

Mike Philie

Mike works with printing companies that are not satisfied with their sales and business development performance, and are looking to get objective advice and strategic direction on how to improve the results of their business. His engagements can range from providing input on the overall sales strategy to building business development pipelines while training the processes of “selling” in today’s marketplace. Mike quickly establishes himself as a trusted resource and advisor to the owners and senior staff of his client companies through his personal involvement, and very quietly and effectively becomes an extension of their staff.

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