If your goal is to build a serious, actionable plan for real sales growth, there are four necessary steps. Here’s how I lay it out:
I want every sales person to start with a list of targeted, strategic accounts they’re calling on. I want that for a reason; I don’t want them to call on the accounts that are easy and receptive. I want them to call on the accounts that are hard to win. I want them to call on the accounts that are going to change the results for the whole company; for them, their sales manager, and the company’s bottom line.
You need to pick your targets at the beginning of the year – some will carry over from prior years. One place to look is at accounts for which you competed in the last 18 months and lost; that’s a target for you. What happens too often is that we lose and walk away, never knowing when the prospect becomes dissatisfied enough to change. It could be any time, it could be years, or months. Most of us go away and wait for them to reach out to us in the future, never thinking to nurture them, instead silently awaiting the day they decide to change.
You really need to pick your target dream clients. Who are you going to win?
A Pursuit Plan
You also need a pursuit plan. Sometimes we’re myopic and we have a narrow view of what we’re doing. The pursuit plan may mean that I have multiple people in my organization calling on multiple people in the target’s organization.
I will have lots of different approaches. I’m going to ask existing clients to introduce me. I’m going to be super creative in laying out my pursuit plan. Who’s going to call? What relationships are we going to try to open? What are we going to leverage to help get an opening so we create an opportunity inside that account?
Nurture Tool Kit
You need a nurture tool kit – this is where messaging is important. If you’re calling saying the same things other sales people say, your target is going to resist your message. You need a message that talks about the value you create. You need language for phone calls that says “these are the three problems we’re helping our clients face now, here are the three problems you’re going to face in the coming year. I’m going to share with you some insights, whether you ever buy from me, that are going to help you make better decisions.”
You need white papers and case studies and things that will nurture that relationship. You need to continually feed the contacts within your target clients real, actionable insights that they can take action on, whether or not they hire you.
This thinking often generates real push back from salespeople, because they don’t want to “give away” their best ideas. The truth is, the ideas are mostly known, and most of them are not used because there are too many salespeople who don’t think of things through this lens of nurturing. If you want people to know you as a value creator and trusted advisor, you’ve got to do this.
Real Key Performance Indicators
I know this is old school, but it’s work you have to do and it’s the only way to really measure your progress. The indicators you really need to track are:
- How many clients do you have to win?
- What’s the average deal size?
- How many appointments do you need in a week to create the right number of opportunities?
- What’s the revenue and profit goal by month and by quarter?
- What’s the activity indicates that you’re getting closer to that goal?
You don’t need a dashboard with 64 metrics. You need to choose the ones that really are your key performance indicators, the ones that suggest that you’re moving towards success, and then you need to monitor them and see how your plan is driving results.
This plan is basic, and complex at the same time. It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s the real work you must do to grow your sales. Target, pursue, nurture, and measure. Old school, but it works.
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