Developing Consistency in Sales
Unless sales feels 100% natural to you, developing the habits and routines that lead to a consistent stream of clients and revenue is a tall order. After you land a new client and feel good about the accomplishment it is very easy to get trapped in the maintenance mode of serving that new client and forgetting about long-term revenue.
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Yes, it is true that serving a client will lead to ongoing business from that client. However, if a business is not growing it is dying. Nothing stands still.
If a business is not growing, it is dying. http://bit.ly/1sU68Nn #growthhacking #marketing #entrepreneurship
Last week I had a lunch meeting with a friend who has been a management consultant for the past ten years. Her contracts are typically two to three months in duration, and she typically has two or three engagements at a time. She invited me to lunch to discuss how she can conquer the highs and the lows of consulting. Every month she struggles with trying to build up sufficient business. She always feels one or two clients away from what she needs to be a successful independent consultant.
Although I could not claim to have a magic formula cure-all, because she asked for my advice I felt compelled to give her some things to consider.
The key ingredient to ensuring a steady stream of clients lies in being consistent in performing proactive, business development activities. And in order to be consistent at anything, we need to believe—in our hearts—that we have something positive from which the marketplace can benefit.
- Results always follow activity
- Activity always follows positive feelings about what you are doing and where you are going
- Positive feelings follow the planting of a positive, motivational image on the screen of your mind
Sure, when in crisis, we can force ourselves to put in the effort. But only self-motivation will sustain that effort. With this in mind, here are some ideas that should move you to consistent business development activities:
1) Form a fresh mental image of sales
We think in pictures. For most of us, the image of sales that we have is an outdated one. Most of us have images of salespeople as pushy, slimy, deceitful, and self-centered. However, this image could not be further from the truth.
Integrate these fresh attitudes into your mental image. They should inspire you to go out and put forward your best foot every day.
2) Add networking (online and offline) to your schedule
Take advantage of as many opportunities as you can to meet and get to know new people. Learn their stories, and share your story with them.
Remember Family, Occupation, Recreation, Motivation (FORM).
3) Ensure that you give the impression you’re open for business
Too many of us run around telling people how busy we are. By doing so, we plant this impression on the screen of prospective buyers mind. When it comes time for those buyers to make a decision about who to call, they do not call you—they perceive you as too busy to look out for their best interests.
By planting seeds that you are open for business, you fill your pipeline for months and years to come.
4) Find ways to ensure that relationships don’t stall at hello
As you improve at asking questions and listening, you will improve at finding unique ways to help people. This help could be sending your new friend an article about a family topic, following up with an invitation to coffee, or emailing the name of the wine that you had mentioned. Look for unique ways to foster the relationship.
I always add my newfound friend as a connection on LinkedIn. This is a great way to move the relationship to the next step.
5) Integrate follow-up into your weekly schedule
Scheduling activities is a huge part of forming routines and habits that pay. Take good notes of your interactions with people—use your CRM if you have one. Schedule an hour or two each week for you to reach out and check in with people about how things are going. Over time these check-ins will turn into business discussions if there is one to be had.
These are some of the ideas that I shared with my friend last week. Today she called me, full of excitement. On Friday, during her one hour of scheduled follow-up, she contacted someone she had done work for a couple of years back, just to say hello. This morning that person sent her a referral. My friend was beaming with joy, and I must admit that I felt good too.
What are your ideas for ensuring a consistent flow of new business? I welcome your ideas and comments below.