Nothing matters more than revenue, and the new year is a great time to re-evaluate your sales approach.
As you move into the New Year, you're probably thinking about all the different ways you can strive to improve your company in 2014. You may choose to focus on reducing costs, worry about how the new healthcare laws will impact your benefits, or revisit your product roadmap and pricing.
But success and growth are most often measured by one number: overall revenue. What are the strategies and moves you should make (or not make) to move your sales to a new level?
Here are three tips you can implement to bolster your sales as you move into the New Year:
Put Your People Out in Front
The old-economy approach was to put all of the equity into your brand and to rarely, if ever, actually mention the people that work for your company. Company first--individual contributors second.
Today, the customer wants to buy from an individual, not a company. In order for your company to accommodate this change successfully, you must have individuals who are willing to take the spotlight, and you must have ways to highlight their expertise.
Encourage your employees to contribute to your company's blog, write articles and whitepapers for publication and speak at conferences. The public exposure keeps your company top of mind. These activities help to establish and maintain relationships with your customers that will encourage them to reach out when they have a need.
Stop Responding to RFPs
More often than not, responding to RFPs is a waste of your company's time and money. Consider an evaluation of the number of RFPs you have responded to, the amount of time and costs tied up in those responses, and then your win/lose ratio. The numbers will probably surprise you.
I really like Ken Robbins from Response Mine Interactive's thoughts on why his company doesn't participate in the RFP process. While most of Ken's comments are related to RFPs for a new agency, most of his points are valid for any RFP process--especially No. 1.: The truth is that the "winner" is often already known at the beginning of the RFP process. In many cases, the company that is ultimately selected actually helped write the RFP putting them in a very good position to win the business.
My standard practice for responding to RFPs has been to send a one-page letter that highlights the unique attributes of my business and includes some marketing materials about my company's products and services. I invite the company requesting the RFP to sit down and have a meeting to get a better understanding of their needs. The time saved on responding to low-odds RFPs can be put towards activities and customers with a much higher likelihood of success.
The caveat to this is if your company happens to provide a technology or process that is so unique that no other competitor has an opportunity to compete successfully--or if you happened to be the preferred vendor who helped write the RFP in the first place.
Master the Follow Up
Sales is still a numbers game. The difference between the salesperson who is successful and the one who falters simple: The successful salesperson is persistent and continues to stay in touch long after others have given up. Studies have shown that few salespeople follow-up more than three times, but most sales happen after the fifth contact.
But today's definition of follow-up is more complicated than picking up the phone to touch base. A touch-base should include a calculated drip campaign that provides useful and meaningful content to a prospect, staying connected through social media and hosting webinars to provide content and training.
You should evaluate your sales process and see if you have the right touchpoints in place to ensure you are staying in front of your decision makers on a regular and consistent basis. Utilize technology where you can to automate this for your sales team. The added benefit of automation will be the metrics you can use to evaluate the effectiveness of your different approaches.
As you move your company into the New Year, take time to evaluate what you are doing to affect the number most pay attention to--your topline revenue.
ERIC V. HOLTZCLAW is a serial entrepreneur who has founded multiple startup companies, including one of the first profitable Internet enterprises. His last company appeared on the Inc. 5000 list three years in a row. Eric advises clients on the “whys” of business – why customers buy, why teams work and the all-important “entrepreneurial why”. He is the author of Laddering and his weekly radio show, The 'Better You' Project, shines a spotlight on entrepreneurs' individual business journeys and successes. Learn more about Eric at www.ladderingworks.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. @eholtzclaw