Monday, August 30, 2010

Recommit to a Successful 2010
It’s almost autumn – resolution time

By Jim Walton
CEO, Brand Acceleration, Inc.
Indianapolis and Charlotte

The other day, I was meeting with a gentleman who told me of his concern that his sales team was disheartened and feeling beat up. After a couple of tough years, some sales people are becoming dazed and confused about what to do next. Having been through several recessions, I’ve seen the symptoms before. There are no easy answers. There are, however, a few things you can do to improve your sales and your mental attitude.

It’s resolution time
Each year, many of us begin the New Year by establishing a set of resolutions (goals) to clarify our mission and to motivate ourselves. At Brand Acceleration, we go through this process and find it to be valuable. It helps us to understand what we want to accomplish and provides us fresh and exciting motivation to get even better.

Each fall, most companies begin the process of developing plans and budgets for the upcoming year. It’s also a great time to set personal goals. While developing your plans, be sure to remain focused on your desired sales and marketing numbers, establishing a monthly set of activities that will help you get there. Don’t wait for January 1. Do it now!

Crank up your sales efforts
Something that often happens during challenging economic times is that sales people lose hope and their efforts taper off. Their sales calls diminish, they set and attend fewer meetings, work fewer hours, and their overall attitude turns negative. As a result, sales numbers decline and jobs are at risk.

I remember a time when the economy was in a very significant recession and I was working for a company that published several statewide newspapers. At a companywide meeting, several sales people were going on and on about how tough things had gotten. We heard the usual litany of reasons; “My territory stinks,” “Our prices are too high,” “The competition is kicking our butt.” You name it, we heard it.

Then, after listening to the concerns of every person, our President and Publisher asked a very tough question, “What are you doing to turn things around?” Silence! Like deer caught in headlights, they each sat there and said nothing. They hadn’t considered their own responsibility to the company’s success.

Here’s what he suggested:

Change your hours: Come to work a bit earlier and stay a bit later each day. By adding thirty minutes to an hour to the beginning and end of each day, you can boost your selling time by as much as 25%. Naturally, if you make effective use of your hours, your sales will go up accordingly.

Make more calls: If you’re currently making twenty calls a day, set (and keep) a goal to increase that number to twenty five. Again, a significant increase.

Attend more meetings: “How many face-to-face meetings are you doing?” he asked. It’s not enough! Commit to yourself to pump up the number and enjoy the benefits.

Educate and motivate yourself: Whether you take classes, listen to educational and motivational audio programs; work to improve your skills and effectiveness.

Avoid naysayers: If you’re busy making calls and attending meetings, you won’t have time to hang out with co-workers whose negative attitudes only poison your own. Stay focused and positive.

The company’s commitment
He knew he couldn’t simply demand that sales people step up their efforts. He made a promise to support them along the way. Here’s how he did it:

More marketing communications: He committed that day to boost the company’s marketing communications support. He increased industry advertising, trade show participation, and association support, a move which clients, prospects and industry insiders noticed and appreciated.

More meeting budgets: Any sales reps wishing to attend more meetings in their territories were supported with added budget. The increased participation was noticed and rewarded.

More memberships: Anyone wanting to join a trade association or group that would place them in front of clients or prospects was immediately given the green light to do so. Attend and get involved.

More travel budget: If a sales person wanted to travel more, whether to his or her territory or to a conference attended by clients and/or prospects, the answer was almost always “Yes – do it!”

With 2011 just a few months away, I think my former boss’s suggestions are more appropriate than ever. Any manager, marketer or sales person wondering how to get things going should review his suggestions and set some goals for the rest of the year. For company owners and managers; don’t get so caught up in cutting expenses that you cut the very support that your team so desperately needs.

As with a new year’s resolution, now is the time to recommit, refocus and recharge.

Good selling!

Brand Acceleration is a full-service advertising, brand management and public relations firm operating from Indianapolis, Indiana and Charlotte, North Carolina. The agency’s focus is on economic development, architecture/engineering/construction, real estate and motorsports.

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