Featured Article12 Questions to Get a Jump Start on the Year Ahead
Each December, like many other people, I reflect on the year past and the year ahead. I focus this reflection with 12 questions. I note highlights and lessons learned; how I have evolved; the memorable moments and the various goals I’ve advanced towards – and more. Often, I’m surprised by how much I achieved. As we trudge through our busy lives we are often thinking about all we have not done or achieved. So I invite you to use these questions to take stock and consider your intentions and aspirations for 2013.
The Year Past:
1) What went well?
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How to Shorten Your Sales Cycle
|Productivity - Prospecting|
|Written by Jill Konrath|
Several years ago, while scouring the business section of my local newspaper, I came to a screeching halt when I noticed a small headline. It read, "Local Firm Acquires eBusiness."
"Very interesting," I thought. The company, an international manufacturer, was not in my targeted market segment -- but this high tech acquisition certainly was.
Because my prospecting antennas were twitching, I committed to staying abreast on what was happening at this firm. I sent for their annual report, periodically checked their website and kept up on any press releases.
After 18 months, the manufacturer announced it was spinning off several divisions -- and the eBusiness I'd been following was one of them.
Bingo! That was the day I knew I had a new client.As a consultant specializing in the hand-off of new products (or services) from Marketing to Sales, it was clear to me that my services were desperately needed.
Please realize though, that at this point my targeted account didn't know they needed me. No one in their business had ever heard of me. And, not one penny in their already tight budget had been allocated for the type of work I do.
But I knew that the lackluster financial performance of this eBusiness could no longer be hidden in the profits of the manufacturing giant. Wall Street would demand results soon. Short-term results. Immediate results. And I knew I could make a difference.
After a plethora of unsuccessful attempts, I finally reached the president. This is basically what I said:
"I've been following your business. I know it's imperative for your company to have strong financial results immediately. You're counting on your new products to achieve your objectives ... and I can help shorten time-to-profitability."
Following a brief 5-minute conversation, the president told me to call a key marketer on Monday, giving him a chance to talk to her first. Essentially, it was a done deal. The outcome - a highly profitable engagement with the firm.
Why am I telling you this? Because business opportunities for your firm are everywhere. In fact, they're staring you right in the face every time you pick up a newspaper or turn on the radio or television.
The Ripple Effect of "Triggering Events"
But most sellers don't use the news because they've never connected these "triggering events" with the potential for business.
For example, any time two organizations collide due to a merger or acquisition, this triggers a whole slew of problems of can lead to great sales opportunities. Long-term suppliers no longer "own" the account and the door is open for the astute seller.
Here are just a few of the areas where your opportunities might abound when firms merge:
• Sales & Marketing: Rebranding, new collateral, revision of go-to-market strategies, product launch, PR support, advertising campaign, sales training, channel conflict, compensation discrepancies, SFA/CRM systems integration, new technology.
Once you know what to look for, opportunities for your products or services become readily apparent. They just need to be acted on.
Capitalize on "Triggering Events"
Follow the news about companies in your targeted market segment closely. Keep your eye out for any changes because they could create business for you. Once a change hits your radar screen, extend your research immediately, collecting as much information as you can before you contact someone in the company.
The key to your sales success lies in your ability to align your product or service offering with their key business needs related to the "triggering event."
When you connect with corporate decision makers, remember that they could give a rip about the process you use, your leading-edge product line or one-stop shopping. But they care desperately about business results, eliminating problems and achieving their desired outcomes.
So pay attention to the news. Right now some companies desperately need your products, knowledge or expertise because of what's happening in their business. Use the news as a trigger to identify who they might be, research them and then make that phone call.
That's the quickest way I know to create new opportunities, shorten your sales cycle and grow your business.
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