Fast Start - Getting Your Sales Team Set for Strong 2012
Most of our clients have longer sales cycles, ranging from 2 to 3 months up to 6 months or longer. Consequently the opportunities in their sales pipeline that will close between January and March, 2012, are the result of conversations that started in anywhere from July to October, 2011. We have identified a handful of action items the CEOs and sales leaders we coach can work with their sales teams to achieve as they plan their last few weeks of 2011 and their first few weeks of 2012 to make sure they get off to a strong sales start in the coming year. Here are a few of those ideas- how many would apply to your sales team?
- Gratitude - we rarely say "thank you" enough and you really can't say it too much. As your sales team makes the rounds this week delivering holiday gifts and spreading merriment, be sure they let their customers know how much they appreciate the business and how grateful they are for the opportunity to serve them.
- Re-Qualify - has anything changed since you first started working with a client? Have any new needs, priorities or challenges come up? Is your company aware of these changes and if you were meeting with them for the first time, is the program you have in place the program you'd recommend now?
- Referrals - there is no better sign of a strong relationship than when a customer feels good enough about the service you're providing to recommend you to another potential customer. And yet, while many customers would be glad to do this, they won't automatically think of it on their own. A simple "Is there anyone you can think of in your network that I should reach out to early next year?" can go a long way toward filling your sales pipeline if everyone on your sales team does it these coming weeks.
- Top 3 for 2012 - similar to the "re-qualifying" bullet point above, have your salespeople ask their customers about their "top 3" priorities for 2012. This takes a more focused approach and will help them better understand where your product or service fits in with the other activities happening in your customer's business. This is a great time of year to ask that question because as we turn our calendars we all tend to take a moment to reassess where we are, what we've accomplished, and what we need to focus on in the coming year. This is true even for those companies on a different fiscal year.
At your sales meeting this week ask your team to focus on these items as they finish this year and start up again in January. These are areas they should explore and be aware of all year, but right now as we change from 2011 and 2012 is a particularly good time to focus on these topics as you talk with your customers. What impact will this have on your first half of 2012 if you have every salesperson on your team focus on these questions and explore these topics? Good luck and good selling!