For those of us experienced (old) enough to remember the channel 7 news from Buffalo in the 70’s and 80’s, “It’s 11 o’clock, do you know where your children are?” was the phrase that led to the nightly news. It was a reminder for all parents to know where their kids are at all times. In business today knowing where your sales are now, where they will be next month and the long-term projection is critical to success, yet most businesses don’t analyze their sales strengths, weaknesses and potential until it’s too late.
It’s no secret that if you stop making calls, you will notice a decrease in sales, and by the time you notice it you are already into the next cycle of ramping up time required to get relationships and sales back on track. This can cost months of revenue, has cost many salespeople their jobs and has led to many small businesses closing their doors unable to keep up with expenses. How do we get into this cycle, more importantly once in it, is there a quick and effective way to get out?
Time is every businesses enemy, and in bad economies, it seems to work twice as fast against them. Clients react quickly to change, looking for better service, a more reliable business relationship and lower costs. If you are not on top of your customer contacts, not providing the level of service your clients have grown accustomed to or you are not being competitive, then clients move elsewhere. Sometimes sales tracking, prospecting and diligent client cultivation gives way to reactive, time-consuming measures taken to survive and keep the ship afloat. We quickly lose sight of the simple things in the business that have made it successful.
There is a solution to the problem, and as with most problems the solution starts with the recognition that there is a real issue. Revisit previous years, paying attention to details like number of clients, average order size, buying frequency, seasonality of sales, and types of products or services supplied.
What is different?
Are you promoting your business as much?
What have you cut in order to save money?
Are you listening to your clients?
Are you aware of new competition?
Is there potential for growth?
Once you have some answers to these questions, planning takes over to eliminate the weaknesses, and build on the strengths. Yes, it is work, and yes there will be a lag between actions and results, but with the proper planning, guidance and sales support you will be back on track. Don’t lose sight of something as critical to your business as sales. Know where they are, where they will be, and where they have been at all times.