At the forefront of driving revenue is the sales team; however everyone, from the receptionist to the CEO, is vital for accelerated revenue success. No matter what position you hold in your company you can use the many low-to-no cost strategies in this article to accelerate revenue.
# 1 Set Your Goals and Objectives: Members of the sales team usually have a quota assigned to them by management. If you are not part of the sales team you probably do not have a direct quota, however the more value you add to the revenue driving activities of your company, the more valuable you are to the company. If you are not part of sales, make a commitment, even if you don’t tell anyone about it, to do what ever you can to drive revenue up and to costs down.
Make sure that you hold yourself accountable. I have found that one key de-motivator, including self de-motivation, is an imbalance of accountability – even if it is perceived and not real. This imbalance is caused when your actions are not inline with your goals and objectives. Manage yourself and your activity consistently and you will see the results in your top line.
# 2 Know Where You Are Now: Before you start any journey you need a map, a plan in the case of your accelerated revenue driving activities. Before this journey begins it is important to know where you are going (discussed in the previous section) and where you are now. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
– Where are you against your goals?
– Where is your company against its goals?
– Are your goals inline with your company’s?
# 3 Know Your Value: Take an inventory of yourself. Understand what you do well, what you do OK, and what you don’t do well at all. Then leverage what you do well and improve on what you do OK and not well at all. Constantly, review your progress and keep adding new skills to your training regimen.
# 4 Know Your Company’s Value: Look at your company. What does your company do very well? What is the value of that product/service? Value from your customer’s perspective – not yours. How does this product/service increase revenue or decrease cost for your customer? (Not how can you offer the product/service cheaper than your competition.) Or does it increase efficiency or reduce risk (subset of reduced cost). Again, for your customer, not you.
Focus most of your energy on leveraging those things your company does extremely well. Especially, those products/services that add the most value to your customer. This is probably where you can increase revenue the most.
# 5 Increase Key Lead Generation Activities:
– Write newsletters for existing and potential customers;
– Provide Free, or Low Initial Buy-in, offers to drive paid product/service business;
– Write white papers;
– Develop positioning papers;
– Conduct short, value focused, seminars on how you help your clients increase revenue and decrease cost
# 6 Automate all Sales Reporting: Use my simple and short three step process to develop your sales reporting system. Here it is:
1) Define Sales Reporting Needs: be focused on the deal and on the client’s timeline;
2) Establish Sales Reporting Needs: make reporting quick and easy for everyone; and
3) Execute and refine as you gain a better understanding of what information is really useful.
I don’t recommend that your company spends $5M, or even $5/month, on a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution. They take too long to add value anyway – the point of this article is results in 30 days. Look at what you need to report and report it in the most efficient and effective way possible. Leverage information technology, if that makes sense, or just have a process flow for hard copy reports. Define reporting parameters beforehand and make sure that you report in regularly.
# 7 Get Help / Offer Help: Show your management that, by having a sales admin you can increase revenue by X. Or reduce cost of sales by Y. Or …whatever metric you can use that shows increased efficiency, value, to the company that you couldn’t do on your own. This sales admin person/team could also support more than one sales person. Show value in real terms and you might get a favorable response.
For example, if I was going to pitch this I might say ” Mr., or Mrs. Boss, it has been my experience that, in most cases, Sales admin staff keep more expensive, and productive, sales people (like me) in front of, or on the phone with, a customer, prospect, or suspect. In a layered sales force I feel that can contribute even more time to the sales cycle and won’t spend valuable time on areas of the sales process that I am not as efficient, or cost effective, in. The key here is not to hire more sales staff, it is to get more revenue dollars for every hour of my effort.”
If you are not a sales person, then offer to help. Talk to the sales team and determine where you might offer assistance. Working together with sales will give sales a renewed appreciation of you and your department. It will also give you a renewed appreciation of sales. Together you and your partner(s) in sales can revitalize accelerated revenue efforts while being an example for the rest of the company to follow
# 8 Leverage Your Hunter and Farmer Skills: There are two types of sales styles to focus on to accelerate revenue, Hunters and Farmers. These two types apply to inside and outside sales people.
Hunters are those sales people that love the thrill of the kill. As soon as they ‘close’ the deal they are on to the next. And they are very good at it. The main weakness of the hunter is that they typically do not nurture accounts – they lose interest in the account as soon as the ‘deal is closed.
Farmers nurture accounts. They typically don’t penetrate new accounts. They take those accounts first closed by the hunters and expand them. Closing opportunity by opportunity, until they have sold all that they could sell into that account. The weakness of the farmer is that the company that they work for must continue to evolve, adding new products and services, or the value of the farmer drops quickly, for that account, to the company they work for.
The key is for you to understand the two sales styles, understand which role you do best in. Exploit your strengths and find a partner that has complimentary strengths so you can leverage each other.
# 9 Increase Your Number of Cold Calls: If you implement only one idea out of this article THIS IS THE ONE! Don’t waste your time with anything else unless you cold call – a lot. Look at any report that measures correlation of the success of an individual sales person, or sales team, with the number of cold calls. The number just don’t lie. There is an absolute, and direct, correlation to the number of cold calls and the success of a sales person, or team.
Cold calling is just a form of networking. Everyone in the company can support cold calling campaigns, whether you are in sales or not. Cold calling is as simple as calling someone you know, a friend/associate, in a company that is not a current customer, or in a different division in a current customer, and having a conversation about their business – everyone loves to talk about themselves. Keep in mind that you do not need to close the order. You need to initiate the contact and then get a sales person involved. You can continue to follow up with the sales person as the opportunity materializes to an order. Just make sure that, once you have initiated contact, you communicate through the sales person or you just might become the problem.
# 10 Perform and Leverage Win/Loss Reviews: Win/loss reviews are probably the most valuable sales tool to use AT ALL TIMES, and not just in tough times. Unfortunately, since most of the results of the review are view as more of a marketing function, most sales organizations do not do them, or worse, do them incorrectly. Also, many sales people, and their managers, are afraid of what the review will tell them – what they need to do to be successful. (areas of weakness)
What a win/loss review is? A win/loss review is an in depth analysis of all aspects the sales process for a particular deal. You need to look at each and every win, and loss, and ask, sometimes tough, questions. Questions that are very similar to what you learned in college about journalism, the five W’s and one H, sometimes called the ‘Journalist’s Six W’s’ (Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How). Why you won the deal (Win Review)? Or Why you lost the deal (Loss Review)?
As you review your wins, and your losses, make sure you continuously scrutinize your pricing policy. If you are losing based on price, make sure that you understand, in detail your sales process. If you sell based on value (realized value to the customer, not what you perceive your value to be) then you don’t need to reduce price, you might just need to work on your approach in establishing, and communicating, value for the customer.
# 11 Visit Your Past Customers: Start with your top ten former customers. Call them, or have them called by an executive. See how they are doing. Ask them why they have not done business with you recently (this is a very valuable method to understand the customer’s perception of your company). If there are any issues, work through them. If not, engage the customer. Get back in there. Work a deal. Get the relationship back on track.
# 12 Commit to Become the Sole Source for Your Key Customers: Just the commitment to your key customers would provide you huge returns. As you make this commitment to yourself, your boss, and your customer, impress upon everyone that you will do this by adding value to everything you do.
Making this commitment will force you to look at all aspects of your customer’s business and understand where you, through your products/services and other capabilities, can enable your customer to increase revenue and/or decrease cost. Focusing on your customer’s business and how you can increase revenue and decrease cost will not only help you grow revenue, but also increase your gross margin on every deal. If you stay committed and honest, this process will be the springboard for a very long and very profitable relationship for you and your customer.
# 13 Determine What Your Customers WILL Want: Don’t just look for what you customers want right now. Figure out what their needs will be in the future. Key note: Your customer probably does not know what she needs now. She knows what she wants, but not what she needs. As well, she probably won’t know what she will need in the future. It should be your mission in your professional life to know the future needs of your customers. – Be ahead of your customers and you will be ahead of the pack.
# 14 Take Your Executive Team Out on Sales Calls: The CEO of any size company is usually the best sales person. If you think that he is not a sales person, you are wrong – dead wrong. How did he get funding? How did he hire his first staff member? How does your CEO get the management team to get what he needs done, done? He sold them, he sold them all.
Your CEO owns the vision, in most cases it is HIS vision! Who else can best sell his own vision?
I do not recommend you take the CEO out on the first, second, or third call. Look at your sales pipeline, take the proposal that is the largest in revenue, or is the most profitable, or you know the most about the customer/buyer. Set up a face-to-face meeting. This meeting should be with someone on your customer’s senior executive team only, preferably with the CEO.
Go and get the order. This process affords you the opportunity to: 1) get to know your executive team, 2) get to know the customer in a new light, 3) understand the issues in closing business today, and 4) gain confidence in what you, and your company is doing, or needs to do. Worst case, you are educating the executive on the sales team and sales process.
# 15 Advertise your success (internally to your organization at first, externally if you feel it is appropriate).
# 16 Reduce Time Spent on Non-Customer Meetings: Unless absolutely necessary and even then, when you can, stop all, or reduce the amount of, time spent on internal meetings. If the meetings MUST happen then make them outside customer’s business hours. Every minute that you are in an internal meeting, you are not in front of, or on the phone with, or supporting the needs of, a customer, prospect, or suspect.
Your company is in the business of making money. Every minute that you are not in front of, or on the phone with, or supporting the needs of, a customer, prospect, or suspect, you are not adding value to the customer. If you are not adding value you are not going to get paid (Revenue). Even if you work for a non-profit you need revenue (donations).
# 17 Go to Training: I bet that there is at least one person in your company that is always in training for one thing or another. I am also confident that if you go to training, unless you are at a very large company, you only go through product/service training and seldom to real sales training.
I was in the information technology business for fourteen years. I have been in back office support roles, I have been a techie, I have been in inside and outside sales, and I have been in sales and marketing management. I have taken so much training it is crazy. However, I have never been in sales training. The companies I have worked for were either distributors or resellers and I went to vendor ‘sales’ training countless times. Turns out, they were not sales training. They taught us how to position their products/services. That was product/service training, not sales training.
I was trained OJT (on the job), trial by fire, mentored. Whatever you want to call it – it took too long to translate the training to a closed deal. I was very successful. In retrospect, I believe I could have been much more successful, much more quickly, though, if I would have gone through structured sales training.
# 18 Train Others in Your Company: Leverage your sales skills to help strengthen the relationship between you and the rest of the company. Do a series of ‘lunch and learn’ sessions. Require at least one person from each department, if that make sense. The point is to give everyone the opportunity (requirement) to participate. The focus of the training should be to educate the company on your sales process and to get feedback from all employees on new ideas/approaches.
You will be pleasantly surprised where the best ideas come from. Remember to include ALL employees in the training sessions. The rewards will appear as accelerated revenue very quickly.
# 19 Get Everyone Networking: From the CEO to the sales team, including all marketing, fulfillment, administration, and back office staff. Everyone knows someone. Know who they know and leverage everyone to accelerate revenue. I suggest that you start with a plan and some training that you provide during ‘lunch and learn’ sessions. Set the objectives of the Networking Plan and communicate to the team.
# 20 Energize Alternate Sales/Marketing Channels: Sure you have partners. In today’s networked world EVERYONE partners. Unlike others, make partnerships work for you. I understand that you might not have the authority to execute contractual relationships with partners, however, you can make personal commitments and team with many partners to drive your accelerated revenue.
Determine which partnerships will drive the most revenue for you, then develop and leverage them first.
# 21 Integrate Internal and External Resources in Revenue Driving Activities: As either a product or service based company you value your staff at the top of the list of your assets. However, are you leveraging them to grow your accelerated revenue? You should!
Leverage all resources within your organization and your alternate channel organizations to:
– Perform Presentations at Seminars/Conventions;
– Attend Pre-Sales Calls;
– Attend Post-Sales Calls;
– Run Cross Project Meetings;
– Write Books and Articles;
– Train/mentor you;
– Build Relationships with Your Customers/Prospects; and
– Build a Name for Your Company.
Leverage Your Back Office Staff too. Get everyone in the company involved in customer related activities, including the back office. Many companies follow the ‘Everyone Sells’ approach – you should as well. For example:
– Have Accounts Receivable (A/R) Meet with your Customers to:
o Pull in Credit Terms
o Collect on Slow Players
o Usually Invoicing Issues
o Understand the Customer’s Best Practices
o Build Relationship with Your Customer’s
– Accounts Payable
– Have Accounts Payable (A/P)
o Shop for Better Pricing and Terms
o Pool Buying Power with Partners
o Build Relationships with Vendors
– Understand the Vendor’s Best Practices
# 22 Revitalize Your…SELF. Here are some tips I strive to use often:
– Regulate your thoughts – wipe out worry – rid your self of resentment
– Nourish your mind, read
– Act the way you want to feel
– Remember, trouble finds everyone – keep perspective – focus on your response
– Take time to reflect – before reacting – restore your sense of perspective
– Laugh a lot
– Learn from difficulty – seek opportunity in the difficulty
– Recharge relationships – seek solace from family and friends
– Lend a helping hand – helping others has been found to be the best medicine
– Keep going – don’t get ‘stuck’ in the difficulty, identify it and move on
– Waste less time
– Exercise regularly
– Contribute to your community
– Do not neglect my family in pursuit of the almighty dollar
– Focus on quality
Now it is time to put together your accelerated revenue plan! Your plan should include many of the areas covered in this article, and many more. Good Selling!