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10 To Do's for 2013

Darrin Gross's picture

I like lists. Every night before I leave work I update my “To Do” list so I can hit the ground running when I arrive in the morning.

As sales professionals we constantly need to reinvent ourselves, find new ways to prospect and generate more revenue than the previous year, so I’ve created the “10 To Do’s for 2013.” They are in no particular order and no one “To Do” is more important than any other.

1) REVIEW DATABASES FROM PREVIOUS YEARS TO IDENTIFY PAST CLIENTS:
Many times when we lose a client, regardless of the reasons, we end up harboring anger and resentment towards someone who use to spend money with our team. When a new account manger brings up the former client he is met with a string of expletives about how the client screwed us and then told not to waste time calling on that former client. I’d suggest reviewing account lists from the last 5 years and developing a plan to call every former client. You may not know the actual reason the client left and let’s not forget that many clients had to reshape their marketing efforts when the recession hit. Today’s economy is different and companies are spending again, albeit not as freely as pre-2008, but spending is returning.

2) LOOK TO ELIMINATE SMALLER TIME-CONSUMING DEALS:
We have all experienced the $10,000 a year client who monopolizes a ton of your time. And while the 10k that guy is spending may be a substantial portion of his marketing budget, it may not be worth your time and energy to continue the relationship at that dollar amount. Pick a “spending floor” and evaluate each client who falls below your floor. Determine if you can get their spending up to the minimum threshold, and if so, devise a plan to show your client the value you can provide for just a few more dollars. If you end up losing a few clients who are unable to meet the “spending floor” you’ll make up the revenue with the clients you up sell and you will create more time for your account managers to go out and sell.

3) ASK YOUR STAFF TO PROVIDE YOU WITH 5 NEW NEEDS ASSESSMENT QUESTIONS:
We are needs-based sellers, thus it is extremely important that we ask the proper questions when meeting with prospective clients. Ask each member of your sales team to come up with 5 new questions that should be asked at every needs assessment meeting. If service team members attend needs assessment meetings require the same from them. Remind your team that these need to be open ended questions that provoke dialog. Yes/no questions do not typically work. Once you receive all the submissions share them with your staff and determine which questions are most valuable.

4) ASK YOUR STAFF TO CREATE 2 NEW IDEAS FOR ALL THEIR EXISTING CLIENTS:
Up-selling current clients may be the easiest way to bring in new revenue. Creating new ideas for a current partner is a great way to show you are thinking of their goals and objectives year-round and not just at renewal time. Even if they do not purchase you still get credit for showing them you are invested in their marketing goals and objectives 24/7/365.

5) REACH OUT TO AT LEAST 5 COLLEAGUES AND ASK WHAT’S NEW IN 2013:
For those of us who have been in this industry for any length of time, we have colleagues spread out all over the country if not the world. Make it a point to reach out to 5 people in your network to see what they are doing differently for 2013. You may just find your next, best idea. Do not be afraid to reciprocate when reaching out. One of your colleagues may improve on an idea of yours, which you may reuse at a later date.

6) MAKE PLANS TO ATTEND AT LEAST 1 CONFERENCE:
I want to stress the importance of getting out of your own little world and conferences are a great way to do this. I am fond of the National Sports Forum (www.sports-forum.com) as it allows me to interact with people from all over the world with a multitude of experiences who are involved in every type of sports and entertainment you can imagine. Conferences are also a great way to reconnect with friends and colleagues who you might only get to see once a year at these types of events. When you return home from your conference write up your notes and share them with those in your office who will benefit from your experience. I also like to send personal notes to people I’ve met for the first time and the occasional thank you note to a speaker I found particularly helpful.

7) ASK YOUR CFO FOR A LIST OF VENDERS YOUR TEAM SPENDS AT LEAST $5,000 A YEAR WITH:
This is a huge pet peeve of mine. If you are spending money with outside venders they should be spending dollars back with you. In my opinion it does not matter how they spend the money (ticket sales or corporate partnerships), but rather that they are showing the team the same consideration the team has shown them by purchasing their products and services. Ask your finance department for a quarterly report on all team vendors. Create a threshold of say $5000 per year and if your team is spending at least 5k then let the vendor know you expect them to participate in some way, shape or form with the team. Your CFO might not like this idea as she may feel the vendor is going to try and recoup the “mandatory” spend with increased pricing, but it is not as though you are asking the vendor to throw his money into a fire. You are actually going to provide some very useful hospitality or sponsorship assets for their benefit. Additionally, if a current vendor is unwilling to participate I’m sure you can find another vendor who will jump at the opportunity.

8) NEEDS ASSESS OTHER DEPARTMENTS IN YOUR ORGANIZATION:
This is a great opportunity to ask others in your organization how your department can help them better achieve their goals. Sponsorship sales touch most other departments in your organization and it is imperative that your interoffice relationships are strong. Let these folks know that you appreciate what they do for your team and ask how your department can help them. You will be surprised how well this will be received by other departments.

9) EXPAND YOUR INNER CIRCLE WITHIN YOUR ORGANIZATION FOR BRAINSTORMING:
To take “To Do” # 8 even further, include people in your office from outside of your specific team in occasional brainstorm meetings. When I worked for a Triple A team in Sacramento our naming rights partner was a grocery store. Each year we conducted several brainstorm meetings to come up with new ideas for our partner. It occurred to me that the people on my staff were not regular grocery shoppers. So, I walked through our entire front office of 75 people and identified employees who were regular shoppers and could give an accurate portrayal of their shopping experiences. We were actually able to come up with some great new ideas and even passed along some issues that were identified by our shoppers to our partner. Additionally, engaging follow employees from other departments shows them how important they are to the entire process.

10) EXPLORE NEW TECHNOLOGIES:
As sales people we are use to not getting our calls returned, or rushed off the phone by some marketing director who is not interested in talking with us about our properties. As a sales manager I receive a tremendous amount of calls each week from sales people trying to sell me the latest and greatest technologies to help grow my part of the business. Call it karma or a genuine desire to help my team sell, I return every call. Every year there are slew of new technologies ranging from new ways to prospect and digital platforms for presentations to CRM solutions and on and on and on. While most of these programs do not fit my budget or the needs of my sales team, I take the time to sit and listen to their pitches. I try and keep the call to 15 minutes or less and I am very open and honest about my budget and my opinion of what they are presenting. As a sales manager I owe it to my staff to investigate all options that might help my team sell and increase revenue.

So there you have it. I know it is a bit of a cliché to create a list around the first of the year, but consider it my New Year’s present to you. If you have other “To Do’s” please feel free to send them to me.
Now go sell something!

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