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Cast Your Vote for 2013 Growth

So…Election Day has past. Did you vote? Did you cast your ballot for what it is that you believe in? Did you put in the effort to understand the issues, the politics, and the possible outcomes of your vote? Did you go out of your way and stand in line to exercise one of the biggest honors and responsibilities that you have as an American? Do you understand that we have people fighting every day in foreign lands so that you can exercise this right? And now that the votes are all in and the results are all in place, are you happy with the outcome? Will you now take a stand to facilitate change that is necessary or will you complain about circumstances that are present?
As an entrepreneur, a leader/manager, or a sales professional you get up each and every day to cast your ballot. You make a choice every day (many times a day) to ELECT to do what is necessary to get the results that you desire. There are many people that every day follow the lead of others and ELECT to be told what they are due in this world…but not you! YOU decide the vote you will cast to make those extra calls. YOU decide the ballot spot you will mark in your preparation efforts before every meeting, sales call, or decision you make. YOU decide your strategy, your approach, and your follow through. Therefore, this election season, I offer to you, regardless of your party or politician of choice, a FIVE POINT PLAN for your the growth of your company, your team, and/or your personal book of business for the future:

1-Define it-Design it!
Right now, I ELECT to decide what my 2013 will look like. I will set my company, team, and personal goals by defining my VISION for results this year. My VISION will determine my mission and thus, the changes that I must make to accomplish that VISION. No longer will I suffer the dysfunction of the masses by letting things and circumstances decide my results. I will decide

2-Preparation Before Execution

Today I begin to start down the path of strategic thought before committed action.  I will spend at least 5 minutes prior to each sales call or each meeting deciding, in advance, what I have in mind for an ideal outcome of the meeting.  I will declare (and write-down) targeted take-aways prior to the meeting, forcing me to THINK from all perspectives and take into account all those involved in the sales call or the meeting.  I will always have a plan before I get into the battle.

3-Growth
I realize I cannot accomplish more than I have without becoming more than I am.  I commit to my professional growth this year by increasing my exposure to new ideas, new strategies, and new actions.  I must learn more than I know today and I must take paths that I have previously not taken.  The marketplace demands more from every sales professional.  Every sales team can grow sales and profits on the wisdom, guidance, and coaching of their leader.  And the marketplace certainly demands more from every sales professional.  This year, I will rise to meet those demands. I will read more, write more, speak more, seek more coaching, more mentorship, and never cease.

4-Visibility

In order for my organization, my team and/or my marketplace to engage more with me and thus, do more business with and/or for me, I must become more visible.  If I am not visible to those with whom I choose to grow, I am, in fact, IN-visible.  I will learn ways to network better and more often.  I will schedule specific visibility both physically and online every week.  I will add value though all of these efforts.  I will connect, engage, and offer assistance everywhere.  I will become known for these things and create a brand of excellence that is known to the masses.  I will become more than I am currently to all of those who know me and many that do not as of yet know me.  And I will define my brand.

5-Action

The greatest secret all accomplishment is ACTION.  With the focus of the Four points above, ACTION is the secret to ignite them all.  I realize that I do not have to be great to start, but in order to be great, I must START!  Every day, I will take a bit more action.  I will make 5 more sales calls, meet with 1 more employee (and listen to them), or offer a bit more coaching to my people.  I will not only plan my work but I will put more effort into working my plan!  I will get up earlier, stay a little later and truly be present as I morph myself and my team/organization into World-Class results.

As a professional today, you need to ELECT to follow a plan for a better future, if only for the upcoming year.  Cast your vote now to unseat the complacent, comfortable incumbent that resides in your office!  GO—BE—DO!

Show your best clients that they are special

Think about how the airlines treat you a little bit special if you fly with them all the time. It’s good for business, right?

So how do you show your best customers that you’d like to move them into the client bucket? How can you show them that they deserve a little special treatment?

Not that all the rest of your customers, the ones that aren’t in your client basket, should be treated like crap. It just means we move that up a notch. When they’re better customers, they move to clients.

So identify your top-tier clients. Identify them by profitability, or frequency of purchase, or after-sales service required, revenue, whatever it might be. And do some things to spend a little bit more time with them. Support some advisory councils, offer some incentive programs. Show some additional incentives, love trips or dinners or events.

Don’t worry about dropping prices for these people. If they buy more it tends to mean they’re getting more value from you.  Keep the margins where they are. Don’t drop price, add value instead.

Have some value-add training events. Go in and work with their staff, their people. Spend a few additional days with no strings attached. Have a client appreciation dinner. Give them a feeling of importance. That feeling of importance breeds a feeling of loyalty. The best way to get loyalty is to give it.

We’re looking to move people from customer to client so that our relationship with them is stronger, based on the value that we provide. And it really is about the way that they look at us in the end. But it starts with two things. It starts with the way that we look at ourselves and the moves we make.

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What does Valentine’s Day have to do with selling?

What’s the difference between a customer and a client? It’s all about the relationship.

Think about Valentine’s Day: Husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, even little kids at school are making an effort to let that significant other know that they are special. So what if you looked to one of your customers in the next few days, next few weeks, next few months and, in effect, said: “Be my Valentine? I want a better relationship with you.”

Why? Because the best sales people don’t necessarily find more customers all the time. They look to penetrate existing relationships. They look to go deeper and wider into the accounts where people are already “raising their hands.”

They look for instances when their customers are saying or indicating things like:

•    Yes, I like you.
•    I like your products.
•    I like your services.
•    I like your prices.
•    I like your process.
•    I like who you are.
•    I trust you.
•    I value you.

When your customers are saying these things, you can leverage that relationship to go deeper and provide more value. And to get new introductions to other people inside or outside of that organization who also value what you deliver. So you get more referrals —  and more ideal prospects.

Photo: Dave Parker, via Creative Commons 2.0

Want to grow your sales? Look beyond the commission

We’ve discussed why it’s better to be in a relationship with your clients. To get there, the first thing you have to do is get in the mood.

What do I mean by that? You must develop a relationship mindset. And that means you must have a long-term focus. You can’t be just about the transaction; you can’t be just about the commission check.

It’s about valuing the relationship, and part of that is believing that you are someone with whom other people would want to have a relationship. Because you have:
•    Experience
•    Training
•    Skills
•    Ability
•    Knowledge

Maybe you have all five. These are attributes that your client will value when it comes time to purchase your product. Because they don’t want your product, they want what your product will do for them. You also must learn to think as much you can from your client’s point of view, and that goes to the heart of empathy. We are truly empathetic when we understand where our customers are coming from.

Here’s how to achieve that. Define the top 20% of your customers over the last year. It’s up to you whether it’s by revenue, profitability, number of purchases or whatever metric you want to use.

Once you know who they are, immediately increase your face time with them. And bring value to the table. Get in front of them and offer one idea, or one project to each one of them. Help them get a new piece of business. Ask for their opinions. Ask them questions. Listen to their answers.

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