2014 is approaching and no matter what else makes it onto your agenda, make sure these six initiatives sit front and center next year.
A sales manager has many responsibilities. Your company is going to make great demands of you, especially when it comes to your time. But there is no greater initiative for you, and nothing that deserves more of your attention, than new client acquisition. When you look at your sales goals, the gap between where you are and where you need to be is made up of opportunities. Acquiring new clients provides you with much of the new opportunities you need to close that gap.
You already have clients. Many of these clients could provide you with new opportunities, but you have to focus your sales forces efforts on acquiring new opportunities within these existing accounts. Wallet share matters. And in some ways, acquiring new opportunities from existing clients can be easier than acquiring new clients. You already have the relationships. You already know what they need—or what they should need. You already have a contract. And you’re already sending them a bill.
Growing the top line is important, but so is growing the bottom line. Increased profitability helps you produce the profit that allows your company to do greater work. It’s what allows you to execute. And in some ways, it can help you sell better. A higher price is a heuristic, a shortcut, that indicates a higher quality product or service. Your sales force may complain to you that they are losing opportunities because of a higher price, but they’re losing those opportunities because they aren’t creating enough value. Value creation is the key to winning new clients, to opening new opportunities within existing clients, and improving your profitability.
Those are the only three initiatives that grow a business. And they should be front and center in 2014. But how do you make these things happen? I’m glad you asked. Pull these three levers.
Even though your company is going to make great demands of you and try to steal your time, you will create the greatest impact on your results by spending time coaching the individual salespeople that make up your team. This is where you need to spend your time. The more time you spend helping each individual producer turn in their best ever performance, the better your results.
Unfortunately, the opposite is also true: the less time you spend with the individual producers, helping them turn in their best performance, the less likely they are to do so. Individual coaching needs to be embedded in your calendar daily. Every communication with the performer is an opportunity to coach them to have a better performance.
There are some organizations that do a brilliant job of team coaching. They get the team together to discuss what happened in a particular situation, what worked, what didn’t work, why it worked or didn’t work, and what to do next time they encounter the situation. By coaching the entire team, the lesson from one interaction can be shared across the entire team. Instead of only one person being able to recognize a situation and make a determination as to how best to achieve a certain outcome, the entire team is being given this insight and understanding. This is the fastest way to notch up the whole team when it is combined with individual coaching. It belongs on your calendar each and every week in 2014.
Too many sales managers focus on reviewing opportunities late in the sales process. This is a mistake. Opportunity reviews are critical to ensuring that you successfully navigate the stormy waters between target and close. Opportunities are too valuable and they can’t be left to chance. Choose to review opportunities that demonstrate best practices and common challenges at every stage of your sales process, beginning with qualification and discovery. Don’t wait to review these opportunities and be told the mistakes have been made and you’re deep into the sales process, post-presentation. Also choose to review high value opportunities as a matter of course. One way to ensure you make your number in 2014 is to make sure that you do what is necessary to win the opportunities your sales force creates.
That’s it, six huge initiatives for a successful 2014.