Make 2013 Your Best Sales Year Ever
Who Are Your Dream Clients?
Begin by targeting your dream clients. Most of us spend too much time chasing opportunities that aren’t significant enough to make a difference in our sales results. The top 20 percent of salespeople have one thing in common: They win the biggest and best clients. In 2013, you are going to begin your sales efforts by selecting higher-value targets. You do that by focusing on where you can make a difference for these clients, which will make a difference in your sales results.
Your dream clients are the clients for whom you can do breathtaking, jaw-dropping, earth-shattering work. You know these people. You’ve probably wanted to win them for a long time. So let’s get started:
• Who can help you produce massively better results? What clients have you longed to win but never gotten any traction on? Make a list.
This list of dream clients is your sweet spot. It’s where you can create the most value and where you have the greatest opportunity to grow your business.
• Which of these dream prospects belongs on the list because of what it says about you as a salesperson or entrepreneur?
Some clients come with marquee value. Not only do they provide you with the opportunity to do your best work, they also make a statement about who you are as salesperson or entrepreneur. Winning these prospects proves to others that you are a value creator. These guys deserve your best efforts.
• To your list, add the names of the contacts you need to break into your dream client accounts. Identify the people with the titles or roles indicating they deal with the business challenges you can help to solve. This is where the action is. You gain access to your dream clients through key stakeholders.
This is the list you are going to use to make 2013 your best-ever sales year.
It’s likely that you haven’t won these dream clients in the past for two reasons. First, the clients already have a partner. They have someone who sells them what you sell, and it’s almost certain they have deep relationships with those partners. They’re difficult to win, and it takes a lot of time and effort. Which brings us to the second reason you haven’t yet won these clients: You haven’t focused on nurturing the relationships you need.
Play the Long Game: Build Your Nurturing Plan
One key to making selling easy is to create value before claiming any. This is counterintuitive to salespeople. We’re used to creating value and claiming it in a single transaction: We get an order, and we send an invoice. But if you want to establish relationships with your dream clients, you have to create value before you claim it.
In one of the businesses I own, the contacts within my dream client companies have issues with human resources, new legislation around labor, and getting the most of their human capital dollars. My team built a plan to send them value-creating emails and white papers that gave them a deep dive into changes they could make to produce better results now—whether they used our services or not. We didn’t pitch or ask for an appointment.
Our dream prospects responded at first by politely thanking us for the information. But over the course of six months, these same contacts started to reach out to us to help them with their challenges, to invite us to compete for their business, and often to give us orders. This “create value before claiming value” approach has resulted in millions of dollars of new revenue for my company.
For three years I have written and posted daily to The Sales Blog. I have given away countless ideas that salespeople can use to produce better results. One day a consultant friend called to tell me what a mistake I was making. He said: “You don’t understand how this game works. You are giving away your intellectual property. You’re doing this wrong. You have to charge people for giving them ideas.” I listened politely as he berated me. When he was finished, he asked: “And by the way, how are you getting all of those clients and speaking gigs?” The world has changed, and my friend is operating on the rules of a time long past.
If you want to win your dream clients, you are going to have to spend time nurturing relationships. You have to pursue them over time, playing the long game.
Your dream clients need help. They want to move their business forward and produce better results. When you give them actionable ideas they can use to produce those better results, you make a deposit in that relationship. You become known as someone with the insights and ideas they need.
Start sending your dream prospects case studies that tell how you helped a comparable client overcome a challenge they are likely facing. Send them white papers that provide them with insights and ideas they can use to produce better results, whether or not they hire you to help them. When you find a magazine article or a web post that provides insight they can benefit from, send it. Enclose a personal note explaining why you believe the idea is important and why your prospect should be thinking about it. The ideas that can help your dream clients move their business forward belong in what I call your “nurture toolkit.” To build it:
1. Make a list of 12 tools you can use to connect with your dream clients once a month over the course of 2013 (white papers, TED Talks videos, newspaper articles, etc.).
2. Map out an hour a week to send out items from your nurture toolkit. Make sure all of the contacts at all your dream companies receive a nurture tool—and a personal note—each month.
Blocking Time: Design Your Model Sales Week
Now let’s get down to brass tacks. If you are going to have your best sales year ever (and you are!), managing your time is crucial. More accurately, you are going to have to manage yourself.
One of the most effective ways to achieve the outcomes you need is to plan your week ahead of time. A model sales week—a standard calendar you follow each week—is a great tool for ensuring you take action. There are three things that must make it onto your model calendar.
Time for prospecting: New opportunities are the lifeblood of a salesperson’s results. Without new opportunities, you can’t make your sales goals. Take a calendar and carve out three blocks of time between Monday and Friday devoted exclusively to prospecting. Make these blocks two to three hours each, so you can get into the rhythm of making calls. If you want to make it easier to get this most important sales work done, schedule these blocks first thing in the morning, before the world starts making demands of you.
Time for nurturing: Your coldest opportunities are the ones you want the most. The reason you spent all that time developing a list of dream clients and a nurture toolkit is so you can warm them up.
Add a one-hour block of time for nurturing to your model sales week. Use this time to systematically send ideas and remind people that you are a value creator. A few months of this, and you will find your dream prospects much more receptive to your calls.
Time for face-to-face sales calls: Your calendar offers the clearest picture of your future results. If your calendar is full of sales calls, your future is all but guaranteed. Block at least a third of your time for face-to-face sales calls and fill those blocks each week. You have the greatest opportunity to create value—and the greatest chance of winning your dream client—when you are sitting face to face with them. You also have to spend time with the clients who are paying the bills and keeping the lights on now. Don’t leave them off of your calendar.
You’ve identified your dream clients, you’ve built a plan to nurture them and you’ve designed the perfect model week to make 2013 your best sales year ever. But no plan is complete without working on your single most important asset and resource: you!
Personal Development: Sharpen the Saw
Why should your dream prospect choose you? What makes you different in a way that makes a difference for them?
You are your only real asset for producing results. Making 2013 your best sales year ever means making you the best-ever version of yourself. From week to week and from month to month, you have to continuously improve. Here are three areas of personal development that pay dividends when it comes to producing breakthrough sales results:
Become a Sales Athlete: As a salesperson and entrepreneur, you are running and gunning to get things done. It’s easy to care about everything and everyone around you while neglecting your own needs. Making 2013 your best sales year ever is going to require you to have the energy and capacity to do your best work.
To keep your energy level high, make time for daily exercise. Even 30 minutes a day will make the difference in your capacity for work. Carve a half-hour into your day for exercise. You also need to fuel your body with healthy food to maintain your energy level throughout the day. And make some time to decompress, whether it’s yoga, meditation or spending time alone recovering your energy.
What do diet, stress reduction and exercise have to do with sales? Everything! You are the asset that produces your sales results, and the more energy and focus you bring to that work, the better your results.
Hit the Books: Making 2013 your best sales year ever means continuously finding new ideas. It means innovating. New ideas and innovations are found through horizontal thinking, taking an idea from one domain and moving it to another, or linking up things in new ways. Some gas station owner saw a convenience store and decided to put the two together… and the rest is entrepreneurial history.
There are countless great business books and magazines you can read to find new ideas to apply to your business. Nonfiction books of all kinds can help spark your thinking. Make time each week to fuel your mind by reading books and magazines. Keep a journal of ideas that you can use to improve your sales game and your clients’ results.
Do the Coursework: The fastest way to have your sales results flat-line is to stop learning. There are some areas you know you need to improve if you are going to produce breakthrough sales results. Maybe you need to improve your public speaking skills. Maybe you need to develop better presentation skills, the kind that will make your dream clients sit up and take notice. Or perhaps you need to learn more about financial models so you can calculate and prove your dream clients’ return on investment when they buy from you. Whatever it is, you can learn it. Sign up to take courses that can help you produce even greater results. Strapped for time? There are countless webinars that you can download and listen to while you drive to work or exercise. As a salesperson and entrepreneur, you are never done learning.
This is the foundation of your plan for 2013. You target your dream clients. You nurture the relationships you need to create an opportunity. You build a model sales week to spend time on your biggest sales priorities. And then you work on the most important asset you will ever have for producing the results you want: you.
Follow this plan, and 2013 will rock!
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An excerpt by the editors of SUCCESS