Forget all the sexy stuff… Focus on the three S-es first
I love walking into an office supply store and getting the sexiest looking pens or clips or gadgets for my business desk. I get excited over developing more smart and beautiful stuff for my website. I can obsesses over a new design for my business cards or my logo. Many of my clients are that way inclined too. All of that stuff can be highly satisfying and give us a feeling of satisfaction… Build it and they will come… We think.
But it doesn’t actually do much for your business, does it? Ultimately the only thing that gets your business to develop is sales. The three S’s: Sales, sales and sales. If there’s no sales, there’s no business.
I thought of this maxim recently when working with my client Mark in 2009.
Mark is the owner of a small consultancy working with charities to improve their fundraising. One of Mark’s goals at the time was to double the size of his business by the end of 2011. So we developed a business plan and a marketing plan, and he got going.
Mark started blogging and sending out a beautiful newsletter. He redesigned his website and became active on LinkedIn. He joined the Australian Institute of Management and attended all their functions and networking events. He engaged an SEO consultant to improve his Google ranking and installed CRM software. In short, he did everything the modern “attraction marketing gurus” tell us to do, and he did it efficiently and consistently.
All the KPI’s are moving up
Mark’s Google ranking did go up and Mark’s database doubled and tripled in size and Mark went from 375 LinkedIn connections to over a 1000 in a year, and he got great feedback and comments on his blogs and articles and posts and newsletters and whitepapers. Exciting stuff.
Mark and I did a lot of back slapping and congratulating each other. Every KPI we measured was moving up steeply. All of them that is to say, except one… his revenue. Sales stuck more or less where they’d been for the past three years.
We’re all getting frustrated
By the end of 2009, Mark was getting frustrated, and he was ready to throw in the towel. I was pretty confused myself by this stage. Everything I knew told me that the marketing work that Mark was carrying out week in, week out, should have led to a steady increase of business by now… but something was missing.
I remember one day, asking Mark about the feedback he was getting from his potential clients. What were they telling him, how were they responding to his proposals and his quotes? Mark looked at me with a confused look in his eyes and said, “I don’t know”.
I asked, “But you must get some sense of their reaction when you talk to them, right?” Mark replied, “Well, I don’t really get to talk to them much unless they call me”. And I was silent for a while.
Picking up the phone
It turned out that Mark had a block of picking up the phone and talking to prospects unless they initiated the phone call themselves. He never just picked up the phone and called a prospect and said: “Hi I’m Mark, I saw your comments on my articles, and I wondered if you’d like to have a coffee and discuss how I can help you improve your fundraising targets in 2010”.
Nothing happens until we sell something.
Once we identified Mark’s problem, we set about fixing it. I got Mark to identify one person every week, who had commented or engaged with one of his articles and to call that person. Because he only had to concentrate on one person and he and I customised a strategy for every one of those people, Mark was able to overcome his block.
He ended up having a coffee with a new prospect nearly every week, and Mark’s business started growing again.
No matter how amazing your website, your collateral, your service or your product, at some stage you must go out and talk to the customer, make them an offer and ask for the sale. Sales simply do not happen by themselves… I promise you.
You can watch one of my recorded Small Business Masterminds Webinars called “Making Sales Fun” HERE. and don’t forget to download the other sales resources on the same page anytime.