Sales like we had a couple years ago are not going to happen again. Everyone agrees that we’ve already hit the high-water mark. We never had much of a sales organization. We just got calls from people who wanted what we had. But now they have what they need and we’re up against a wall wondering what to do next.
THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: Consider the size of your pipeline. If you were once in high demand, you can be again. Look for extensions on what you’ve already sold. For the next round of growth, consider buying what you need. Figure out which sales challenges you really need and want to solve.
One of the big problems right off the top is it sounds like your pipeline isn’t as full as it needs to be.
Picking the right customers will help fuel growth. Look for customers who:
- Make frequent purchases from outside resources, rather than trying to solve problems internally;
- Can afford to pay a premium for what you offer;
- Want AND need what your company provides; and are
- Willing to spread the word that you’re a great solution.
Go through your book of existing customers, tag the ones that meet “right customer” criteria. Make some customer service calls and use them to find out what else those “right customers” want. In addition to customer surveys you can do surveys of all past customers, analyze “right customer” buying patterns and look at what competitors are doing to get this kind of business.
One of the easiest sales to make may be something you can add onto what you’re already selling. If you’re selling a product, add a service contract. If you’re selling a service, add a product that enhances or extends the value provided by the service.
Adding highly profitable extensions allows you to increase the average purchase as well as margin. You can also boost margin and revenue by instituting a price increase. Lots of companies haven’t increased prices in years.
If you’re out of ideas on what else to sell to existing customers, take a look around at what others are selling. You have a client list and you’re already on the approved vendor list. Perhaps you only need to increase the quantity of things to sell. Rather than bootstrap your way up from nothing, buy another company’s product or service and add it to your line of offers.
Whether you plan to buy or build sales solutions, make sure you know exactly what sales problems you need to solve. Sales are stalled for one or more reasons. Dive into the “why” of the stall in order to achieve a permanent boost to sales.
Consider some of the following reasons that sales typically get stalled:
- Not enough things to sell;
- Not enough sales people selling;
- Current sales team needs more or better skills;
- Not enough marketing to fill the pipeline consistently;
- Don’t know how much volume is needed in the pipeline to grow; and
- Can’t leverage sales from one product or service to another.
Make sure you’re solving the right problem before you set out to buy or build solutions. Above all else, take action necessary to grow now. The alternative to growth is watching the business decline to the point where it is unprofitable and then no longer salvageable. Who wants that?
LOOKING FOR A GOOD BOOK? Try “From Impossible to Inevitable: How Hyper-Growth Companies Create Predictable Revenue,” by Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin.