Thursday, January 6, 2011

Have Your Sales Hit a Brick Wall?

In many businesses, a point comes when revenue flattens out. Team continues to work hard yet revenue increase is nowhere in sight. You feel like a gerbil on a wheel, running harder and faster, yet not making any significant progress.

What are you to do?

If this sounds like your situation, here are two solutions to consider, that may help you get unstuck and back on the growth path.

1. Refocus: Over time nearly every business picks up variety of customers who have various needs. While each provides revenue, not all revenue is the same. Some customers actually cost more to serve then the revenue they provide.

For example, for a printing company, a customer who continuously purchases only small print jobs that are not in line with their core offering, those projects can actually consume significant resources, using up valuable staff time and energy that could otherwise be spent on serving your core/best customers as well as acquiring more like them.

Therefore as you begin this new year and your sales have hit a wall, it may be time to reevaluate your customer base and projects you are taking on, and then make adjustments accordingly. In the short run this may cost you some revenue. Fear not. By refocusing, you will more then come out ahead. For more on this, check out my post "Sweet Spot" that I wrote back in January 2009.

This will help you work smarter, leading to much greater returns. Think of it as "sharpening your saw", as Steven Covey once said.

2. Reexamine: Ask "What business are you really in?". How you see your business determines your outlook which in turn impacts decisions, actions and ultimately outcomes. Therefore if you see your business in a new light, that inner shift may lead to expansion, identifying additional service opportunities, right within your existing customer base. After all one of the keys to growth and greater profitability is to do more for your existing clients, since it's much easier to sell more stuff to them then to get new ones. When you do that, it further strengthens the relationship and deepens the value you provide. Both win.

Let's look at some examples:

Say you're a marketing company. Are you in the business of helping your clients acquire new customers, or are you helping them drive revenue growth and helping get new customers is just one of the ways you help them grow revenue?

If you're a printing and mailing company, are you in the printing mailing business or are you in the business of helping your customers move information, move communications?

If you're a promotional products company, are you in the business of selling promotional products or are you in the business of helping your customers build & strengthen relationships, increase client acquisition, drive profits, and improve client retention?

If you're an association, are you in the business of serving the profession, the industry, or your members?

You get the idea.

If you have hit a wall, this is a great time to refocus as well as reexamine what business you're in with a fresh pair of eyes. You may be very pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Give it a try.

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