Right up front, let me state: These are not economic predictions. They are based on my personal observation and first-hand knowledge of sales forces across the United States—their present situation, and their future hopes, based on market conditions and readiness.
And please do not compare yourselves. Rather ask yourselves: Am I ready to win more based on these predictions and challenges?
Prediction: More business will be available as the economy begins to surge and the elections become a reality. Challenge: Are you ready for an increase in business, not just with product and inventory ability, but with better attitude, mood, friendliness, and morale of the entire company?
Prediction: There will be pricing challenges even in the wake of greater business. Challenge: Now is the time for PROFIT. You have left too much money on the table for the past two years. Create a better value proposition, and use it rather than having to justify (and perhaps lower) your price.
Prediction: There will be an emphasis on third-party purchasers and buying groups in order to leverage pricing. Challenge: Build value-based relationships that the customer would lose out on if they joined the group. Get testimonials from customers who decided not to participate.
Prediction: Full participation in business social media is no longer an option for your company. Challenge: Counsel your counsel and determine what you CAN do. Do that as fast as you can. Your plan must include all forms of business social media, and interaction with customers one-on-one. Need examples? There are plenty of them online right now. One of them may even be your competition.
Prediction: Full participation in business social media is no longer an option for you personally. Challenge: Set up a business Facebook page where people can “Like” you and invite all your customers to begin to comment on your products, service, and impact of ownership or service provided. Your LinkedIn connections must exceed 501 and you must have at least 10 recommendations. This makes your image look powerful, structured, and reputable. Twitter must attract 500 followers, and you must tweet twice a day. Your YouTube channel must have at least 10 testimonial videos that use the most searchable words in your business category. Your blog is the real-world outlet for yourself and your customers—make it valuable and interact with customers one-on-one.
Prediction: Your personal reputation and brand will play a greater role in getting a sales meeting and getting a favorable decision. Challenge: Google yourself to establish your base in January. Then take WEEKLY actions to enhance your status. Get testimonials. Volunteer for charity. Speak in public. Post on your blog. Get others to praise you. And build your reputation one action item, and one good deed, at a time.
Prediction: You will need to be able to differentiate yourself from the competition (in the mind of your customer) to be greater than ever. Challenge: Ask yourself and your present customers what differentiates you from your competition. Then take actions to widen the gap. HINT: The ordinary things are a great start. Use Ace of Sales e-mails (www.aceofsales.com) to begin the process.
Prediction: Your company will finally (after three years) begin to provide sales training. Challenge: Is the training relevant? Is the training acceptable to your sales team? Is the trainer acceptable to your sales team? Does the training incorporate the voice of your customers? Is the training working?
Prediction: You will lose more than one sale to an inferior competitor. Challenge: Find out why and fix it. HINT: It ain’t price!
Prediction: More face-to-face meetings will be necessary to build relationships, or you will become vulnerable to the competition. Challenge: Double your existing face-to-face meetings from last year, and double your networking hours.
Prediction: Breakfast will be the new lunch. Challenge: Your connections, relationships, and even your prospects are crunched for time. The two-hour lunch will wane. An early morning, 30-minute meeting over coffee will net more and better results. Set a goal of three breakfasts a week.
Prediction: Your sales plan/goal/quota/numbers will be much more attainable. Challenge: The business is out there for
you to earn. Your perceived value, your perceived difference, and your reputation will determine your numbers way more that your price.
Prediction: Your personal dedication or re-dedication to excellence will reach new heights. Challenge: Allocate three hours a day to YOU. Allocate an hour for social media and personal branding. Allocate an hour for customer interaction. And allocate an hour for reading and study. You will have to allocate more time for personal development and training because the new challenges require new knowledge.
If you’re looking for a success plan, I’ve just given you one that will make 2012 more than you could hope for. All you have to do is WORK HARD.