July is a good time to stop the frenzied pace of business and take time to reflect, analyze and make necessary changes for the second half of the year. As Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Stop the insanity and make necessary course corrections to finish strong in 2010.
Analyze your clients and prospects:
Are you making sales AND profits? A closed piece of business doesn’t mean anything if there is margin erosion and high maintenance accompanying the deal. Take time to write down attributes of your best fit client. You know, that client you’d do business with everyday, all day. You will find similarities in the following areas:
- They value expertise and are willing to pay for it. These clients don’t nickel and dime every deal—they actually believe in win-win. They know if your company isn’t making a profit, you can’t deliver excellent service and/or products. It’s fairly simple math.
- They value relationships. This client likes talking to a human being and not a machine.
- They align with your corporate values. This client treats you like a partner not a vendor. I.e. They pay their bills on time instead of making you their personal bank.
Analyze your referral partners and alliances:
Yes, in the age of social media and sales 2.0, referral partners are still a critical piece of business development. Look at your team of partners and ask yourself these questions:
- Is this partner a giver or a taker? Actions speak louder than words. Has your partner provided introductions? Invitations to key events? Knowledge that can enhance your business?
- Is this partner committed to your company’s success? Does your partner know your key goals and initiatives for 2010? Your top 10 targets?
- Is this partner connected at the right level with their clients? For example, if your referral partner is treated like a vendor by his/her clients, you will get introduced into opportunities where you are treated like a vendor, where decisions are based on price and nothing else.
Analyze deals lost:
Sales teams are filled with driven, high energy individuals. The result is that salespeople often move onto the next deal without really analyzing why they lost the last one. Conduct a “post mortem” and figure out the root cause for lost business in the first half of the year. See if you can identify trends:
- Wrong profile. You shouldn’t have engaged in the opportunity in the first place. Tony Robbins and Zig Ziglar combined could not have closed the business! The prospect didn’t fit your best fit profile, so you really never had a real chance of closing the business. The only real chance you had was writing another practice proposal.
- You aren’t talking to the real decision maker(s). This is generally a sales process/sales skill problem. Maybe you’re sales is not comfortable talking to the “C” suite so they keep “hanging with low hanging fruit.” Or they keep getting stuck in the sales cycle because they are asking outdated questions like, “who else is involved in the decision process?”
- Price. Most of the time losing to price boils down to two things: wrong prospect fit or the salesperson doesn’t know how to quantify the cost of the problem or opportunity. Many salespeople still do not know how to conduct high level conversations around uncovering the financial impact, strategic impact or personal impact. Why? Impact conversation are a high selling skill that takes thought, practice and coaching.
It’s half-time. Will you stop the insanity or keep doing what you are doing? The good news is personal change is always within your control.
Chief Selling Officer