Now is the time to act. In this blog I wanted to give you some specific tactics to deploy immediately to assist you during the typical summer slow times, while I always consider that an excuse, there are proven sales leadership actions you can take now that will make a difference in your cash flow this summer. Not only will it pay off this summer, but your third and fourth quarters will amaze you.
First: if you have not performed an A, B, C analysis of your customer base do it. Essentially this entails analyzing your customers over three years as to the total revenue or margin they would have generated for you. In my blog (www.SalesManagementGuru.com) I have discussed this in great detail, but as a reminder, a list of all your customers is generated by total revenue or margin then you will classify A= top 15% of your clients that make up 65% of your revenues, B= 20% that make up 20% of your sales and 65% of your clients that generate just 15% of your revenue. Drop those lines.
Second: Develop a plan of attack. Based upon the size of your customer base, break out your A’s and B’s into equal groups of a certain number and assign them to the sales team or key individuals. Then based upon your existing line of Microsoft, Citrix or other products and services you offer, review each customer. This meeting should include your entire sales team along with key representatives of your technical team. What you are looking for are the typical “cross sell and up sell” patterns that naturally occur but also what solutions you already sold to each customer, but more important what products/services that you have that have not been introduced to the customer or that are new to your organization. This proactive approach of analyzing each customer, looking for potential new opportunities will turn your sale team into problem solvers. It will train them not to simply find out what the customer wants to buy, but assist the customer in what would be important. Where we have instituted our Cross Sell/Up Sell Account Planning program the dividends have been huge.
Third, for every A client, the salesperson must arrange a lunch meeting between the customers executives and the Microsoft partners executive to discuss the overall relationship. Often when two executives meet to discuss business topics and get to better understand each other strategic topics come out that normally a salesperson working with IT teams are not aware of or are made available to them. The partner executive must be well briefed for this meeting. Hint: every partner executive must meet every A client once a year.
Fourth, ask for referrals. During a recent meeting with a consulting client where it was uncovered that the salespeople were only working a select number of accounts and not working net new opportunities; we changed the plan to institute a referral program. Each salesperson was trained and then expected to connect with a certain number of customers per week to “inquire” as to their satisfaction level with our services and during that conversation the salesperson was to ask about other potential friends or organizations the customer might know that could use “our service”. If no names were offered, the salesperson would then ask if they could “at least” use the customer’s name as a reference. If a yes was received, then all the surrounding firms in the customers geographic area were called on as well as all related companies within that customers general line of business or vertical market were contacted.
Fifth, host a Spring Party. It’s a great time to bring everyone together to not only say thank you, but to educate on new offerings. Execute this in early in order to build activity levels, pipeline values and position summer sales. This does not have to be an expensive event, but it should be fun and unique. Some partners have rented boats on the lake, suites at baseball games and others have used hotel facilities with built in themes. Hint: invite your best prospects to these events as well.
Sixth, manage the process. As a sales leader, each week track the results of the activities, did the salespeople execute what was expected? What were the results? Do you need to alter the tactics? What have you learned?
Planning a well thought out summer campaign now, can pay great dividends later. Imagine lying in you hammock, sipping an ice drink, knowing your quota is already achieved. Hint: don’t forget the suntan lotion.
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