For most Solopreneur's it's a feast or famine existence. Why? Because of the inability to multi-task; to sell while working. See if this picture fits: Every waking minute is focused on client delivery. You really didn't over commit to win the sale — but it was damn close, and in the back of your mind your wondering if Friday's check will be the last, because you have nothing else in the sales funnel. Furthermore, the upgrades you identified to improve productivity require a check and you are afraid to spend any money right now.
I've been there, done that! Lets stop it and identify the second part of the 20/20 Solution--Return on Investment (Revenue).
The question I pose as we look at growth constraint No. 2— SALES —is how do you stay engaged in sales to ensure adequate and predictable cash flow while delivering on current commitments?
Remember the easel pad from our previous conversation? Pull it out again and starting on a new sheet, build a detailed picture of the entire marketing and sales process. Just as we did before, on one side detail what you do, how long it takes, and what are your costs. Next, on the opposing side and in a different color detail what value you provide to the customer at each step.
This might strike you as curious, the concept of providing value during the sales process, but you know people love to buy, they don't like being sold. If the sales process is one-sided, why would a potential customer participate? Adding value means the customer will call you if provided good marketing information or will take your sales call, never move far away from the concept of WIIFM (What's In It For Me).
A quick aside about marketing. All Solopreneur's understand the need for sales and most see marketing as something for bigger companies. View it this way, marketing makes selling easier because it creates an image of you in the marketplace that will initiate the relationship. Without marketing, all sales start as cold calls and isn't that fun? See our companion blog Solopreneur for a list of low cost marketing techniques.
My success in sales comes from being an information source to help identify and solve problems. Whether you are selling to businesses or consumers, everything is based on needs. Never assume that the potential customer truly understands the problem or has a clear picture of what they need to solve it. If you build your sales process to provide a learning experience, people will call or happily take your call.
Back to the marketing and sales map. Review the customer side and think about ways you can enhance each step in the sales process. Ask yourself questions like "How do I help the potential customer identify and solve their problem?" Your goal at every touchpoint in the sales process is teach the customer something in every discussion so they'll become comfortable choosing you.
Once you have mapped these learning and credibility touchpoints, review your side of the process and make the necessary changes to internal activities. Recalculate time and costs then ask yourself how many steps can I reduce, how much time can I take out, what can I automate with technology, and what can I outsource to a virtual assistant.
The key metrics of managing revenue — decrease the ratio of leads to closed sales, decrease the time between first and last touch, increase the amount of each sale, increase the margin of each sale, increase the frequency of purchase, and delegate where ever possible.
Now for our original reinvestment premise: Given your CAPACITY decisions for a 20% Improvement in Margin, add your marketing and SALES improvements for 20% Improvement in Revenue. These two approaches will give you a 20/20 Reinvestment Strategy that will enhance the capabilities of the company, improve how you work, and ensure your hard earned money is used for good purpose.