In our continuing Sauga 960 radio interview series, we tackle sales strategy and tactics as life gets back to (somewhat) normal!
Your Business, presented by David Wojcik, understands business. As the CEO/President of the Mississauga Board of Trade, he focuses on current commercial issues and how they affect entrepreneurs and key executives.
David Wojcik: It’s that time of year again, summer is over, kids are back to school and a new year will begin very, very soon. While many people focus on upcoming holidays, business owners will be focusing on year end business planning and achieving the goals that they have set to hit before December 31st. To help us understand how to prepare for that last push to the end of the year is sales guru, Linda Kern. Linda is the president of the Kern Group providing a sales growth process and unique tools for driving sales results. Welcome Linda.
Linda Kern: Thank you, David.
David Wojcik: Linda, this is like Groundhog day for us. I think we do this every single year, we do the final push to the end of the year, it’s amazing. Nothing changes year to year, yet everybody needs that reminder of how to get out of summer mode and back into work mode to get that push to the end of the year. So what let’s visit some tips on how do we get ourselves out of summer mode, back into work mode?
Linda Kern: Yeah, so it’s something that I am actually doing myself right now. And it’s really about going back to some of the basics. So, up to this point in the year, and certainly over the summer in particular, we just sort of do, do, do head down, talking to clients, talking to prospects. We’re just kind of in the groove and many of us forget to step back and say, okay, well, where am I year to date in my sales? And do I have enough in my pipeline to achieve the gap that I have between now and the rest of the year, and what is the corresponding activity that I need to do to continue to fill the pipeline. So it’s really how much business is remaining that I need to hit my target. And what is that corresponding activity? It’s really just a checkpoint, a snapshot in time, if you will. So that as you go into these last few months of the year, you know what you need to be doing.
David Wojcik: Linda, I’m always shocked at the number of salespeople that say, well, nobody was around over the summer. You know, there are people working, you just might have to dig a little deeper. And of course, it’s so easy for prospects to say, oh, you know, it’s summertime call me in September. So if you’ve kept those notes, and then all the people that said, Hey, call me in September and you call them in September, you just might make that final push to the end of the year. But I mean, it may be a little bit late now because we’re already going into September, but people should have been collecting those prospects over the summer. Why do so many people just kind of take the summer off and forget about sales?
Linda Kern: You know, I think it’s because they accept what they’re hearing. So they hear, we’re short-staffed, we’re going on vacation. And so the salesperson comes back into the office and talks to their sales manager about, well, you know, there’s just not a lot going on because everybody’s on vacation. So really the only kind of antidote to that, so this is what I say to them, is you need to therefore have that much more prospecting activity on the go in the summer.
So it’s just the same concept as when the economy starts to slow down and we shouldn’t even put that in the universe right now, but when the economy slows down and you’re seeing, it’s harder to get meetings, you need to ask for more meetings. So in the summer you need to reach out even more because you will get folks that say September, and you will have to accept that. I mean, you can’t push them to meet now if they’re shorthanded or whatever, but we just accept what we’re hearing and we need to not do that. We need to say no, I’ve got my plans, I’ve got my ambition to hit my goal and to be successful. I’m going to just keep at it.
David Wojcik: I think, because we also have to realize that in this last four months of the year, September to December, we’ve got December coming up and about halfway through December, everybody starts to shut down again. So really how much time do we have? So is it worthwhile going through that a little mathematical equation, Linda where you say listen, all right, well maybe I’m 60% of the way to my goal, or maybe I’m 70% of the way to the goal, how much business do I need? And back that up to prospecting, is it worth doing the math?
Linda Kern: Oh 100%, absolutely. That math is critical because otherwise, again, you’re just doing stuff for the sake of doing it. You need to know what is the level of activity? What is the gap and how are you going to fill that gap? And there’s two places, two generic across most businesses places, you can get that. And the first one is make sure if you have a recurring revenue model, that you are reaching out to existing clients to see if there’s any growth opportunities with existing. That’s something that sometimes if we’re too new and hunting focused, we forget that that’s the low hanging fruit is to go after that recurring revenue business. And the second one is, you should always be prospecting and hunting for new business. And so that is also something you want to be aware of is we only have four months left.
If your sales cycles beyond four months, you may be done for this year, but there might be, if those of you that have shorter sales cycles, get those new prospects going, get those meetings going. And you might, ideally you’ll be able to close some business before the end of the year. So you definitely need to know how much of that can I grab if my remaining is 30% could I get from existing clients, do that math through those numbers, do that analysis and how much more do I need to generate in brand new business to hit my goal and then get on it. Don’t wait, I always say to companies and to sales teams, if you wait to do the prospecting for new business, there will be a lag. There is a lag in getting those meetings, because you’re going off and going to places where you’re not as well known.
David Wojcik: And while we were talking about that lower hanging fruit, or we’re talking about upselling, let’s not forget those happy customers that may be a very happy to give us some referrals because, you get a referral and I don’t know what percentage you use, but I was always inclined to use, you get a referral, especially with somebody that already needs your product or service that sale’s 80% made. You just need to go in there and establish a relationship. So, what other areas can we look at to uncover some of those last minute sales that we may not have thought about? Maybe some go back through that prospect list, remember that you can contact the people that said, call me next year, call me in two years, call me in three years. Those kinds of people, where do we go to dig up some of that business? So we have it in before the end of the year?
Linda Kern: Yeah, those are two really good ideas. And I’ll start with your comment about referrals. Absolutely, yeah, it is somewhere between 70 to 80% of referrals are business that can be closed across, kind of generically across, all industries. But it’s not just waiting for the referrals to come to you, and I know that that’s not what you were referring to. You’re also referring about, let’s go back to our clients and ask for referrals, let’s set a target of, I’m going to ask for one referral a week, two referrals a week, five referrals a week, set that target. Because if you don’t set that little target, you’re going to forget to do that, and that is a worthwhile activity. Also, loved your idea about going back into prospects, that where it didn’t go anywhere in the past, maybe it didn’t go anywhere six months ago, four months ago, a year ago, two years ago. With CRMs today, there’s no excuse to not know who those prospects are that we reached out to.
That’s another really great idea because we’re not as unknown as when we start reaching out kind of cold. But on that note about reaching out cold, we’ve got tools like LinkedIn, where you can see, like, let’s say, I want to reach out to ABC Company and I go on LinkedIn, and I find that the contact that I want to reach out to. I’m going to be looking, or I should be looking for people that are connected to that contact through second connections. And then let’s say you’re connected to somebody at ABC Company, I’m going to say, “Hey, David, do you feel comfortable introducing me to Susan over at ABC company?” So, that warms it up a bit. So there’s lots of things you can do. It’s about pausing, looking at the numbers as we talked earlier, where do you need to be? What’s that gap and how can you fill that gap?
David Wojcik: And while we’re on a topic of LinkedIn, you may view, somebody might find there was a company that they just couldn’t seem to establish a relationship with the person that was responsible for making the decision. Well, check LinkedIn, people do move on and maybe there’s a new person there that you can start all over again with, I know we’re almost out of time here, Linda, and we make it sound like it’s so easy, I mean, call referrals, do this, do this. We make it sound easy. I know you and I, we both believe this is hard work. There’s nothing easy about selling, it’s hard work. And I like to use the phrase, “Are salespeople lucky, well luck is where opportunity meets preparation.”
Linda Kern: Indeed.
David Wojcik: Watch for those opportunities and make sure you’re prepared. And Linda will be back with us to talk about some more great tips on selling. But right now we’re out of time, we’ve been in conversation with Linda Kern, the president of the Kern Group. Linda, thanks for being with us.
Linda Kern: You’re welcome David.