Five Sales Actions Printers Should Take Before 2024
Click your heels together, say “Keifer Sutherland” three times, and poof, just like that 2024 is upon us (see what I did there?). Soon, you will be reading about, making, and quickly breaking New Year’s Resolutions — all intended to drive sales and, especially, new business. But before you go through that disappointing promise-and-fail cycle once again, here are five sales actions you should undertake.
1. Start at Home
When you leave for a trip, you lock your house up, right? Well, before venturing out for new business growth, let’s make sure you have secured your current base. Start by making a list of your top accounts. Then, rate each one on a scale of 1 to 10, asking yourself, “How confident do I feel I’ll retain this business in the new year?” A score of 10 means they’ll never leave you and a 1 means they’re just looking for a reason. Once you have done that, pay special attention to any account rated 7 or higher. Confidence breeds laziness, and the more untouchable you think you are, the more vulnerable you are to losing the account because you are taking it for granted. An account like this is ripe for a competitor to swoop in and make the steal.
So, your first sales action is this: Before the calendar changes to 2024, make certain you know where your best customers are headed, have held client reviews, and have solid plans to bring each one a new idea. Remind them why they buy from you.
2. Build the Foundation
What would you think of a company without a website? Or what if they had one, but it was thinly populated and dated? Now, then let’s talk about your online presence. What is the status of your LinkedIn profile? Is it up-to-date and accurate? Do you have testimonials? Are you posting quality content on a regular basis? Looking objectively at your overall account, what would YOU think of you? And, finally, how many connections do you have and how many groups do you belong to?
Next, let’s look beyond LinkedIn. Do you have case studies to share with a prospective client? How about a white paper or two? You might think creating a video to share is beyond your technological pay grade, but it is easier than you think. If a knucklehead like me can do it, so can you.
People who might want to do business with you are going to do their homework. That means checking out your online persona. Give them something to look at and see that they are impressed with your credentials. Sure, prospecting calls that go unreturned might be the result of an uninterested prospect. But it is just as likely someone looked you up and down, yawned, and moved on.
3. Think “Geico”
We love their ads. Cavemen, geckos, and wood-chucking wood chucks. Ever since Warren Buffet bought them, Geico has fielded a number of different campaigns and slogans. Each has a plan, a goal, and a life span. This is a model for you as well. Before you launch into 2024, think about the different aspects of your sales base and divide them up into no more than five silos.
One could be, “My top 5 accounts.” Another: “Big fish” (which I’ll talk about next). Or how about “Financial institutions”? You could also focus on just one of your company’s capabilities, such as print and mail opportunities, or even isolate a sales campaign on applications for one piece of equipment (say, wide-format). The point is to “Geico” your sales approach.
Next, come up with a plan and goals for each silo. Start with a long-range target and then think in terms of weekly sales activities to get there. Also, make a note to review your silo choices after a few months and make changes as necessary. You can always drop one and pick up another.
There is one other aspect to buying into this approach. As new opportunities come up, they must fit into one of your five silos. Do not make the mistake of adding one, “it will just take a few minutes” task after another. They add up and deplete your sales energy and quality. Done correctly, this kind of sales focus adds an element of time management and productivity to your new year.
4. Big Fish
Just like a mall needs a Target, Macy’s, Dillards, or Best Buy, you need a big anchor account to achieve your maximum sales potential. Landing that big fish requires a strategy. Between now and the time the ball drops on Times Square, come up with a list of seven accounts you define as “big.” Next, choose five of those seven, and do research on them and the vertical market they represent.
Your goal is to become a subject matter expert. Look for trends, and seek out angles where your products and services can make a difference. Next, go to that freshly-updated LinkedIn account and find people who have contacts they can introduce you to. Also, read up on decision-makers and learn a bit about their background. The net result of this preparation is to have several different ideas for targeting each big fish.
5. Sharpen the Saw
The final task is something of a miscellaneous list of action items. Let’s clean up some loose ends: Are you organized? Do you need outside help, such as accountability, from a manager or peer? Where will the support you need come from? Are there skills you need that you don’t currently have? The days right around the late November and December holidays give us a unique opportunity to catch up, clean up, and rev up for 2024.
In fact, one of the last things you can do before Dec. 31 is to look at your task list and delete anything that didn’t get done. After all, if it was worth your time, you’d have gotten to it by then.
There is one final exercise to complete. Think ahead to one year from today. Where do you want to be? Going into as much detail as possible, think about your sales life and what your “next level” looks like. We spend so much time in the minutia of daily sales activities, it is important to look to the horizon before we set sail.
The best-of-the-best sales reps make the most of their selling day. They work hard to make it look easy. Each day is meticulously planned ahead of time. Each week is curated in a flow consistent with common activities and priorities. Months, quarters, and entire selling cycles are viewed well ahead of time, allowing them to shift direction or stay the course.
But before any of those other steps are taken, top salespeople take actions like these five so they start the year from a place of order and clarity.
Bill Farquharson is a respected industry expert and highly sought after speaker known for his energetic and entertaining presentations. Bill engages his audiences with wit and wisdom earned as a 40-year print sales veteran while teaching new ideas for solving classic sales challenges. Email him at email@example.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 salesvault.pro.