5 Strategies for Sales Success
You know that iconic song refrain…”Summertime and the livin’ is easy.” Yes, easy—easy to get caught up in all of the gardening, weddings, graduation parties, picnics, vacations, bike rides and evening walks. (Especially for those who live in the Northeast where summer weather only lasts a short three weeks to three months at most.) Take a long weekend or leave the office early a few days and next thing you know, the phone stops ringing and your appointment calendar is a little empty. To keep our own businesses, practices, and consulting firms strong, we need to keep the pipeline full so that sales in the form of product delivery keep flowing—rainmaking, in other words.
How do we keep our rainmaking up when the sunshine is calling us away from our keyboards and screens? What are best practices and tips that we can implement right now to stay on track? Here are five strategies we recommend:
1. Midsummer nights’ dreaming or mid-year success? Start by pulling out a copy of your organizing documents: strategic plan, mission, vision, goals—whatever you use to plot your course to success. By now, you likely have data on your sales for Q1 and Q2 so you can check these data as a midpoint to your goals. Get grounded in the reality of your year-to-date performance.
Are you half-way, or more, to your annual goals? If you are, then what you’re doing so far this year is working. Congratulations! Review what you did to get this far and make sure you are continuing to take action on the process that is creating success. The next few months will fly by quicker than you think, so map out your steps and put them on your calendar. And then, most importantly, take action to keep yourself on track!
If you don’t have goals or a plan for your activities, there’s no better time than NOW to make one! Building a “Plan, Do, Check, Act!” cycle into your business could point you in the direction of a successful third quarter.
2. Weed, prune, and reseed. If you’re not approximately half-way to reaching your goals for this year, it may be time to consider your sales process.
- Weed out any efforts that are not creating results.
- Prune back some of the strategies you’re using that are iffy in terms of effectiveness and keep measuring your efforts versus your outcomes.
- Reseed your mind and rebuild your toolbox. It may be time to pull out a good book to learn more about sales or to simply get you reenergized with some fresh ideas. Sometimes a simple tool goes a long way because they can reduce our propensity for “analysis paralysis” or spending time overthinking what we’re doing rather than making any actual progress. Many of the advisors in the Galliard network have enjoyed using Jim Horan’s 90-Day Sales Plan.
If you’re a Galliard FBA Certified Advisor, you have access to our Marketing Presentation PowerPoint. Take a look through your prospects list and invite them to your office for a fun event, such as refreshments and a movie featuring a family-owned business, and then close with a discussion and the marketing presentation. Or offer to bring this presentation to a company on your prospect list as a “lunch and learn” program. Many organizations and businesses are looking for continuing education for their group and will welcome an educational presentation with a soft sales approach. Offer to bring along the lemonade or frozen fruit bars if there’s a heat wave where you live!
3. Refresh yourself and your schedule. Whatever your sales process is, make appointments on your calendar to implement it. Grab a glass of iced tea and your calendar for the next month and schedule in appointments for cold calls with new leads, warm calls with prospects, and a half-hour “appointment” to plan and revise your calendar at least twice a week. Consider color-coding your work calendar by cold calls, warm calls, and product delivery, etc. Don’t forget to allow for time to write proposals, if they are part of how you work!
By putting all of the stages of your sales and delivery cycle on your calendar, you can see how much time you are really spending working on your business and how much you are working in your business. Do you spend enough time on the sales part of your business? Do you regularly take action to follow up on pending proposals in your pipeline? If not, remember that you can make your sales cycle fun by making calls or sending emails from your hammock!
If you don’t like the sales part of your business, schedule those tasks first thing in your day. As a mentor once advised me, “If you know you have to eat a frog, there’s no point in looking at it all day!” Get it out of the way and then the rest of your day will seem more fun, even if you’re working in your office on a gorgeous summer day. Plus, making at least one sales call per day will help keep your calendar full well in to the future.
4. Make sure you’re harvesting the low-hanging fruit. Referrals are often our best source of business. And taking an existing client to lunch or scheduling a walk through a park is one way you can build your referral business through engagement, as articulated by Thomas Gay of Refer.com. Thomas advises: “My belief is that everyone knows what they should be doing in order to build the ‘know, like, trust’ relationships that can be so fruitful and essential to reaching your goals. However, as busy as we are, we just don’t build the habits and develop the ’10 minutes a day’ mindset to make engagement-building a part of our daily-weekly lifestyles.” The added benefit of building your level of engagement with your clients, Thomas says, is that “clients rating their advisor’s engagement level as ‘excellent’ (a rating of 9 or 10), had a 100% history of actually providing referrals to their advisors. Yet when client engagement ratings fell below the excellent level, the history of these clients actually providing advisor referrals plummeted to only 7% or less.”
Make this practice a routine. Thomas invites us, “Imagine how your closest circles would see you if you had a routine that showed them how important you feel they are. Imagine how they would feel if you were to make an unexpected drop-by visit, make a quick, unplanned phone call or write a short personal note of appreciation with no other purpose in mind but to make them know that you are thinking about them, that they are valued and important.”
5. Go with the flow. It’s summer, which can be a great time to play and have fun or simply relax. So why not go with the flow and plan a barbeque or picnic with some of your clients or prospects? You could do this one-on-one or in groups. The focus of these events is to build your relationships, which will translate into business down the road.
Here at the Galliard FBA Institute, we believe that family businesses deserve to have a trusted advisor—someone who helps to orchestrate the process, integrate the services and simplify the complexity of transition. This is part of what we call The Galliard Way, which our Certified Advisors learn during our Family Business Advisor Core Training.
Marc Rosen and Judy Bodenhamer of the Client Experience Institute have developed 5-Stage Relationship Capital Model. “Over time, each personal interaction you have with clients creates a distinctive value. This value, called Relationship Capital (RC), is measured by the quality of your behaviors, traits, and interactions over the course of a relationship. RC is a direct reflection of your character as experienced by those who know you and can testify as to your qualities.”
“Most of our clients recognize that they need advice but they don’t know where to find it or how to tell if the potential advisor is truly an advocate or a parasite,” says Galliard FBA Institute Founder, Lisë Stewart. Trust-building is the key foundational step in building your relationships with clients and prospects alike. According to Towers Watson Worldwide Study, “High trust organizations outperform low trust organizations on total shareholder ROI by more than 280%.”
What is trust? Charles Feltman, Thin Book of Trust author, writes, “Trust is choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else.” You can build trust in your work relationships simply by doing what you say you will do and by being generous and transparent. Reaching out to clients and prospects to recognize their birthday, anniversary or another milestone will go a long way toward building trust and strengthening the relationship. When you can, send them a referral. John Gottman, Founder of The Gottman Institute, a research-based approach to strengthening relationships, teaches us, “Trust is built in the smallest of moments.”
Small moments of focused action steps will also keep your sales strong through the summer and help you achieve your performance goals for this year. Remember the lessons of the Aesop’s Fable, “The Grasshopper and The Ant”: a little work every workday during the summer will feed you all winter. Be the diligent ant, and not the hungry grasshopper. Happy rainmaking!