The best time to start 2010 selling was about a month ago. Unfortunately most people will start 2010 selling just after they recover from New Year’s. That is way too late and a great way to miss a strong first quarter.
This will be the first of three articles to help you launch your 2010 sales today with a plan that will launch you towards success now.
First, start by making a written list of every customer you sold in 2009. If you have a CRM (and if you don’t, you should) then print out a 2009 sales activity report. As you write down the name, pick up the telephone and call them to say thank you. Don’t ask them about 2010 opportunities, don’t ask them for referrals, just tell them how much you appreciated the opportunity to serve them in 2009.
As you check that client off the list, make a note by their name regarding how you acquired the client—referral by whom, a business group, cold calling, email marketing, prior client, etc. Use a consistent abbreviation system as this will come back in step two.
If anyone mentions 2010 sales, go ahead and have the conversation and either log it and the appropriate follow through telephone call in your CRM or make a big red star on your printout next to that customer’s name. Repeat the process until you are all the way through the list. A CRM sure makes this part easy.
You have 300 customers and this call process will take too long? First, congrats on having a long client list. Second, since many of your calls will result in you leaving a voice mail, you should be able to make 50-100 calls a day so this is a week-long project. And, can you think of anything more important than touching every single client one more time this year as they reflect on 2009 and start to think about 2010? I can’t.
Step 2. Tally up your “where did it come from notes” so you know where your business is coming from. Look for trends and blocks of business from one source. You may find one advertising campaign was really successful. You might find that one group is more beneficial than others. One person may be your best referral source. You won’t do anything else with this yet, but you will want to know this for step 4.
Step 3. Look closely at those who brought up 2010 sales opportunities during your thank you calls. Why did that group bring them up? What characteristics make them different from your other customers? Which industries are they in—maybe part of your client base is doing better than another. What specifically did they talk about? Did certain product lines or options get more attention than others? You should spend significant time on this step and really think about why this group is already talking positively about 2010. As you generate a sales plan (step 5), it is much easier and much more realistic if you base it on what you know instead of what you guess.
Step 4 and step 5 will be here in about a week. Between now and then, your best activity is contact and analyze. Touch your customers and listen to them about their plans for 2010 before you create your own sales plan. While you are at it, get a CRM (such as http://www.addresstwo.com) because what you think of as just at tool will soon become your best friend.