Time to gear up for 2017. This year has been a roller coaster, and the flurry of activity is leaving our focus blurred. Follow the money. A good reference to keep a keen eye turned towards is finding the person with the budget.
Bank of America Business Loan Division came out with some interesting information on Small Business Owners (SBO’s) for 2016. Take a look.
The top 3 things small businesses are interested in are:
2. Economy and Job Growth
3. Health Care
Why? That’s easy. They affect profits. Taxes and health care affect costs. Economy and job growth really speak to revenue. With attention being paid to revenue and costs, how can you interpret this? Let’s see what Bank of America says:
“Small business owners are neither aggressively planning for growth nor downsizing, taking a wait-and-see approach during the election year.”
Looking a bit deeper we see:
• “They are not aggressively planning for growth…”
• “… nor downsizing, taking a wait and see approach…”
“They are not aggressively planning for growth…”
Aggressive is the key word here. Most small businesses right now are very busy completing work they have, but are they investing for 2017 opportunities? The research says they are not. Growth opportunities are out there, just not aggressive opportunities.
This is an ideal time to remember that, “There’s more gold in them there hills…”
“… nor downsizing, taking a wait and see approach…”
This is so true. Small businesses are caught right now like a deer in the headlights. Interest rates are going up, it’s an election year, and domestic and world markets are shrinking. However, the data seems to be different than what the media is saying.
While job creation has been a rallying cry of this election, unemployment in the US is at its lowest level in 3 years. Go figure. So, with uncertainty, a ton of noise, and lack of direction, what should small businesses do? Back to the head in the sand again…? We know where that gets us – nowhere.
When it comes to selling, here are three things you can do now that will pay off for you in 2017.
1. Keep Prospecting Alive – Are you actively asking for referrals? Are you rehearsing your 30 Second Speeches and recording yourself to play back and learn from? How are your listening skills? Have you called some of your past customers to ask what their read is on 2017 and how you may fit into those plans? If you’re just pitching and letting your batting skills get rusty, you’ll be whiffing the ball far too much instead of hitting it out of the park.
Touches in December and January to your past and current customer base will have a significant impact on your business.
Most of your customers are doing different things in 2017 than they did in 2016. That’s to be expected during an election cycle, and the unique economic state we are in. How can you help them? Before you “spray and pray” on why they should do business with you (which is all about you, not them), you should you find out what they plan on doing in 2017 and where they see their biggest risks? (For all you familiar with ProActive Selling, this is ValueStar material!)
We just reached out to a few of our current customers in the past few weeks, and already have Q1 and most of Q2 jammed more than even last year. Be passionately interested in your customer’s plans for 2017. Actively listen.
2. Qualify and Disqualify – About 40% of sales professionals still hold on to junk in their funnel. Blow it out now.
For example, we have two new accounts we are working with that have over 50 prospects that they predict will close in Q4, and both expect less than 20%. What??? That means they are working 80% of the deals with no expected return. Why?
Qualifying can save you so much time it’s ridiculous. Consider a prospect located in Kentucky. Looks promising, but I really don’t want to fly to Jacksonville (no direct flights and off the beaten path) for a “final” business meeting if they are not serious. So I called and emailed the VP and asked them if they are serious. “Most likely” is what I heard back. Let’s put on our efficiency caps and review:
- The prospect didn’t return my call, just my email.
- They did not confirm an implementation date (I-Date) as I asked you for (Can we pencil some time in the week of March 6?… Crickets).
- This is not a geographically desirable account. (See John Jantsch Duct Tape Selling. Select your customers, just don’t be a victim.) It would require a lot of time traveling and being away from home.
- They answered with a maybe, not a yes or no.
My answer? Call me when you can get started, and off the prospect list they go. Disqualify. Not dump them, just in maintenance mode. Time to really work with the prospects that are real, and not the ones we are hoping will make a decision. Here are two ProActive Selling tools that will help:
- Implementation Date – What date do they want to get started? This is important for qualify/disqualify.
- Homework Assignment – If they don’t take 5 minutes to return a call, are they really committed?
3. Invest Smart/Fail Fast – Many sales managers are hoping their under- performing employees will get better. If you have given them direction and they haven’t, they most likely will not. Make the decision and find the right team to help you move your company forward.
While things may turn around and get on track, the odds aren’t really great. MAKE A DECISION. Are you holding onto that poor performer because you don’t want to make a change?
You are paying for something that is going to give you very little return. Invest your time and money in something that will grow, just not give you status quo. Look at your best opportunities. Holding onto the past clouds those decisions.
Make some proactive decisions. Train that poor performer or find something else for them to do. Call the prospect up and ask for a decision, either yes or no. Maybes will kill you. Invest one day a week for the next 3 weeks finding new opportunities. Get up off the bench and get into the game.
Your homework is to focus on these three things:
- Invest Smart/Fail Fast
If you need additional guidance, schedule a complimentary assessment with us. We can pop the hood and see where you can sell or manage more efficiently. Click Here to Reserve.