Make the Phone Ring
“Tell me about the company’s new business development plan,” he asked. The CEO began his response with, “well our sales reps' plan is.” The question was what is the company’s plan, not each individual sales rep’s plan. You know how this goes, you have six salespeople and you end up with eight different plans, of which maybe one or two are aligned with the company goals. If continued business growth for your company is important to you, then your company needs a way to make the phone ring.
The Leads, the Good Leads
What salesperson doesn’t want more and better leads. Not tire kickers but real, sales-ready leads. That would be ideal, but what does that actually mean? To me, it means a contact that has shown interest in your company and perhaps has further engaged by downloading information or attending a webinar. They now have a need, a budget and are ready to have someone reach out to them. Oh yeah, and they also have the ability to highly recommend or say yes to your proposal. That would be nice and, in fact, many reps receive those throughout the year in the form of referrals. No argument that a great referral is hard to beat. The problem with depending on them, though, is that they don’t come often enough to plug the leaks from attrition and to effectively hit your sales growth targets.
What’s the Goal?
That’s a very good question. In many small- to medium-sized companies in our industry, there are relatively few strategic sales goals in place. In others it might be a flat percentage over last year’s results. While there is nothing wrong with this approach, with a little additional effort you can accomplish much more. You can break down your sales effort into several categories (try to keep it simple, though). You might consider creating sales goals for accounts in these categories:
- Existing clients for over two years
- Existing clients for less than two years
- Accounts that have increased greater than 10% in the prior year
- Accounts that have decreased greater than 10% in the prior year
- New business from new accounts
- Or, you could break it down by industry verticals
Self-Serve or External Resources
So, back to making the phone ring. And, by the way, it probably won’t ring as it will most likely be an email. How can you get those that don’t know you to become aware of what you do, how you’re different and why they should contact you right away? It’s answering the old question of, “What do you do and why should I care?” For years we’ve been focused on our selling process.
In order to be more effective today, you’ve also got to be aware of the clients’ buying process. How do they select a new supplier, was there a triggering event that took place at their company, who gets involved and what does the process look like? What approvals need to happen and what are the objective and subjective qualities they seek in a new supplier?
How do you help them to further engage with your company? You may want to provide blogs or articles, case studies or white papers and webinars for them to view or download - some type of ongoing content marketing or nurturing campaign. Social media plays a heavy role in this as well. It could be Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and others. It’s about getting known as a thought leader in the markets you’re in, and having something to view or download that will back it up.
If you decide to do this yourself, please note that this isn’t just a refresh of your website with some new keywords and a new company brochure. It’s about getting someone’s attention and nurturing them until they are ready to act. It’s ultimately about providing a stream of leads into your company. There are many businesses out there that can help you with this. If you’d like more information on some of them, please contact me directly.
How Do You Know If It’s Working?
This isn’t a plug-and-play endeavor. It won’t begin generating leads overnight as there are many moving parts and there will be some testing and experimentation to determine what will be most effective for your particular business. Give it a try. Your sales reps will be thankful and if everyone executes like they should, you’ll reap the rewards of a unified marketing, sales and business development strategy that result in additional business. Good luck!
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 assessments, 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 (launching soon), LinkedIn or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Philie leverages his 28 years of direct industry experience in sales, sales management and executive leadership to share what’s working for companies today and how to safely transform your business. Since 2007, he has been providing consulting services to privately held printing and mailing companies across North America.
Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the graphic communications industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion, and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach.