Farquharson/Tedesco on Business Development: 2013 Deathbed Regrets, Oath
Good morning, everyone. On behalf of the entire Calendar family, thank you for coming to this remembrance service as we prepare to bid 2013 farewell next month. It was good of you to take the time as we look back on a year that ended much too quickly.
All in all, it was a good year. We will remember it fondly as there were challenges met, growth seen and targets hit. But 2013 was also full of regrets. So much opportunity missed. So many promises unfulfilled. Last year, as we gathered to bury 2012, we all told ourselves that we wouldn't let this happen to us again, that we'd learn from that year's mistakes and make changes.
No more "Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda." Only check marks next to the solid plans we made and SWORE that we'd complete, adding "And this time, we mean it!"
And yet here we are again. So sad.
Ladies and gentlemen, 2013 would have wanted you to hear this message: Don't let it happen again! Don't sit here next year at this same time lamenting about a year's worth of "what might have been if I'd only..." Make changes. Set realistic goals and then set out to reach them. Let's learn from the mistakes of our collective past. The Calendar family gives birth to a new opportunity every January 1st and this renews the chance for repentance.
Here are some thoughts to help you out:
1. Shoulda—Two words: New Business. What you shoulda done in 2013 is to focus on generating new business. Roughly 10 percent to 15 percent of your business disappeared this year. If you're lucky. Simply doing what you've been doing was not enough (see also definition of "Insanity") to grow. How do you grow?
Two more words: Sales and Marketing. You shoulda talked to your clients right about this time last year and asked where they were headed in the New Year. You shoulda spoken to your equipment vendors to see what they suggest (costs nothing to ask!). You shoulda gone to a few more industry events, trade shows, and association meetings to learn and listen. You shoulda spent an hour a week on researching new ways to market yourself (sales reps) and/or your company (owners, presidents).
You shoulda visited helpful Websites, read books and articles, and seen every TED video on the subject as possible. You shoulda looked into social media options. You shoulda put some money into sales training.
Face it: You shoulda done a lot of things and you didn't. And now 2013 is almost gone and you'll never have the chance to do the things you shoulda done, or to say the things you shoulda said. Instead, it was a year of unfulfilled expectations and best intentions. That's some headstone.
2. Woulda—What those "shoulda's" woulda done is to move you and your company ahead of the customer and certainly the competition, instead of constantly chasing both from behind. Clients...and even the competition...woulda seen you as inspirational leaders. You woulda been, as Wayne Gretzky once said, "Where the puck was going and not where it is." You woulda come back from those industry events, trade shows and association meetings and you woulda had some great ideas to discuss with clients.
The time and effort you put into marketing woulda put you in a whole new light, not separating your company from the word "Print," but rather separating your company from the prospect of being "Just Another Printer." The clients woulda brought you in at the design stage of the job rather than at the quote stage. Instead, 2013 was another year of racing to the bottom of the profitability pool.
Who knows, maybe you woulda been on the cover of Printing Impressions wearing your Sunday best and beaming with pride. Face it: This funeral woulda been a celebration instead of a head-shaking ceremony of despair and solemn regret.
3. Coulda—You know, it all coulda been different. You coulda put together a plan for growing sales and another one for marketing. You coulda made a list of everything you didn't do in 2012 regardless of how silly, unnecessary, expensive or time-consuming it might have seemed.
You coulda asked your sales reps, managers and all other employees for their input. You coulda then whittled that list down to a few key items and, gulp, you coulda followed up and actually prioritized the action items and taken steps towards their completion. You coulda asked your customers what more you, well, coulda done for them. Yup. That coulda been on the cover of PI. Face it: You coulda been a contender!
But all is not lost. We can learn from the mistakes made in 2013 and vow not to repeat them in 2014. Don't let this death be in vain. Start by taking the following oath:
"On the client side, I will hold account reviews with top customers to find out what they expect from us and to ensure that they know of our complete list of products and services. What will result is a bulleted list that will become my company's direction in the new year.
"As for my salespeople, 2014 is the year that I ask for a sales plan from each of my reps. I will assess their strengths and weaknesses, and spend some money on training as necessary. I also vow to be the sales manager that I haven't been in the past, meeting with my reps on a regular basis and getting to know their accounts. After all, they belong to us, not them.
"Finally, I will seek out and find someone to hold me accountable for these promises made today. I take this oath with my left hand firmly place on the Book of Good Intentions. Oh, and one more thing: This time, I mean it!" PI
About the Authors
T.J. Tedesco is team leader of Grow Sales, a marketing and PR services company that has served graphic arts companies since 1996. He wrote "Direct Mail Pal 2012" and seven other books. Contact Tedesco at (301) 294-9900 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Bill Farquharson is the president of Aspire For. Through his Sales Challenge and Tuesday eWorkshop training programs, Farquharson can help drive your sales. Visit his Website at www.aspirefor.com or call him at (781) 934-7036.
Bill Farquharson is a sales trainer for the graphic arts. Email him at Bill@AspireFor.com or call (781) 934-7036. Bill’s two books, The 25 Best Print Sales Tips Ever and Who’s Making Money at Digital/Inkjet Printing…and How? as well as information on his new subscription-based website, The Sales Vault are available at BillFarquharson.com.