It’s really no big secret that I am a passionate believer in being a bit...shall we say forward about revenue growth? I’m not embarrassed, everybody always wants to dance around the topic. But for the entrepreneurs I work with, getting into the black (or really, the green) is about so much more than money.
- You need revenue for validation that your product or service is something that your market really wants.
- You need revenue so that you can make bigger minimum orders, decrease your costs, and increase your profits - the case of it takes money to make money.
- A girl has got to eat, and pay her bills, and take care of her family. And of course all those shoes at Nordy’s are not going to buy themselves, come on now.
- And what about this whole achieving your dreams dreams thing? How are you supposed to build your business into what you know it can (and should) be without revenue?
So this Valentine’s Day, instead of “treating yourself” to all the 50% off chocolate that’s going to be literally everywhere tomorrow (be strong…) think about how you could actually give some love to something that will LOVE YOU BACK. Because let’s be real, Russell Stover will not.
Based on the multitudes of entrepreneurs I work with, advise, mentor, talk to, internet stalk...I’ve boiled down sales problems to these three main areas. Almost all issues I see (including my own!) can usually be attributed to these three main things.
3 Simple, Impactful Ways to Give Real Lasting Love To Your Sales Pipeline (So it Can Love You Back!)
Want to build a beautiful mutually beneficial relationship with your sales pipeline that's based on mutual respect, admiration and support?
Or perhaps you just want your sales pipeline to text you back every once in a while. Or maybe you want it to not be so erratic and needy. Why can't it be more self sustaining? You can't get a night or weekend off to save your life! We're all for dedication and commitment, but a girl has needs after all. I digress...
1. Understanding the WHAT, but not knowing the HOW.
You guys are smart, passionate, driven, curious and motivated entrepreneurs. You’ve done your homework and have the wherewithal to know what you need to do. The WHAT is not the issue with you. Sure, you could use a bit of clarity and tweaking to get that honed in a bit tighter, but for the most part, you’re in the ballpark of understanding what needs to be done to grow your sales pipeline. It’s the HOW where things start to get sticky.
How do you increase your sales volume in a smart strategic way when you don’t have endless budget to throw at advertising or marketing, you can’t hire someone to help you, or shell out big bucks for access to whatever thing it is you are being told will open the client floodgates?
What to do about it:
To get a better handle on the How - you need to be clear on the What.
What is the ONE THING that will make the single most impact to move you forward? The How often gets complicated because we’re not trying to address one thing, we’re trying to address several things all wrapped into one.
Oftentimes I find entrepreneurs trying to solve multiple problems at once. Which create one big tangly messy hard to solve problem composed of issues that are outside their control, combined with issues related to operations, issues related to funding, and issues related to ramping sales - and they think it’s all one problem, when in reality they are trying to solve 4-5 problems rolled into 1!
I mean, really. Dang girl. Slow down.
It’s also normal to find that some of the problems that make up the tangly mess are totally outside of their control and pointless to address. Some of the problems will solve themselves when the One Thing is solved...it's enough to confuse anybody.
Want more help with this process? Check out my (free) focused growth strategy sessions.
2. Lack of Consistency
Even if you’re not as clear as you could be on the How, consistency in your marketing and sales can save you while you figure it out. But 95% of entrepreneurs lack consistency in growth and marketing related activities.
There are many reasons that we lack consistency. And they are all good reasons:
- It’s really hard to be consistent when we are pressed for time.
- It’s hard to follow-through when we have so much on our plates.
- It’s hard to remain consistent when we are doing too many things (throwing spaghetti at the wall repeatedly gets really tiring after a while)
- It’s hard to be consistent when we are always reinventing the wheel with our efforts.
- Consistent effort is hard to justify when we aren’t seeing any results from our effort.
The main theme here is, we are too busy to be consistent. Again, I’ve totally been guilty of this one too. Almost all of these actually, that’s why now I recognize it when I see it! It’s so easy to back burner things when you have competing priorities and you’re not seeing any results produced from your efforts.
By the way, we all know the back burner is the business equivalent of the friend zone. Otherwise known as: "The land of never gonna happen." I'm just saying.
What to do about it:
The best thing to do is review all the activities that you’ve done in the past and ask yourself these two questions:
What did you actually like doing?
What actually works (or seems to work) to get you results?
The intersection between things you actually like doing (or dislike doing the least), and things that actually work to generate you results is where you should start.
Let’s say you find that the things that work and you like doing include writing a weekly blog post, sending an email blast, and doing a Facebook live “Behind the scenes” video of you in action doing your thing.
Now, block in some time on your calendar to actually write and schedule your posts and emails, and then decide when you plan your week when exactly you’ll do that Facebook live video and on what topic.
Next, get clear on what the Call To Action should be for all these things. It’s all well and good to put your great stuff out into the world, but offer some specific takeaway value, and make sure you invite people to take some action. If you don't invite it, they'll do nothing.
It's like dancing around the question of the second date. They'll never know you're up for it (or not up for it) unless you make it clear.
3. Not focusing on sales at all
This one seems like a no brainer. But you’d be surprised how much of your time is being eaten up by non revenue generating activities. Again, you're busy. You have competing priorities, the day gets away from you. There are many things that will keep you from focusing on sales. Trust me, again. I’ve been right there. (I wouldn't be able to speak to all this if I hadn't been there).
Many entrepreneurs spend a lot of time responding to things and putting out fires all day. And they don’t get much time to actually focus on generating revenue.
If increasing sales in your business is a priority, you should aim to spend 50%-75% of your time on sales related activities. Yep, you heard me.
However, this will never be sustainable if you don’t have help, if you’re spread too thin trying to troubleshoot, mired in client management or customer service, and are not building scalable and repeatable systems as you go.
What to do about it:
Start small and consistent today. Let’s say you can dedicate 25% of your time a non negotiable time where you are going to be consistent, focused and dedicated to ramping up sales.
Next, get a commitment from those around you to support you in that and to not pull you away.
Hold aside a portion of the profit (you’ve got to have good margins of course) and as soon as you start to see some traction, begin to backfill or outsource some of the work that is distracting you, or hire an assistant and then increase your time to 50%.
Continue this process until you hit 75% of your time.
Once you are at 75%, systems should be your priority - You may even want to consider getting help to make sure your systems are solid.
A note on when to hire a sales person.
Once the systems are in place, you can start thinking and planning for a sales person. A sales person will likely not build your systems for you (even if they say they can). They will need a strong system to work within to be successful. The most common reason that sales people flame out is a lack of systems (misaligned expectations is second).
Hiring a sales person is like splurging on a matchmaking service when you are still obsessing about your ex and spending the weekends with your two best friends Doritos and Netflix. Girl, you're not ready, get yourself in order first.
Do you have that "just drank from a firehose" feeling? What next?
If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed just now, this is normal. Resist the urge to down another martini and opt into the next internet marketer's scheme to overnight success. (And to think, he was just a pizza boy yesterday!?)
That being said, head on down to the comments and tell me what you think about this article - I know you have an opinion.
Want to take action? There’s a few more things you can do now:
If you are selling to businesses/corporate clients, I highly recommend you check out my freebie PDF guide. It'll get you on the right track with a scaleable system that you can put on rinse and repeat. You can download it here. (My popular online course, Roadmap to Revenue may also be a good fit for you as well. And you can complete it at your own pace.)
Are you really feeling the heat? If the confusion and overwhelm is ramping, (and your revenues are not) you are not crazy. The struggle is real. You might benefit from some clarity, insight and focused strategy to help you stop running in circles and get some forward momentum you can execute. A free strategy session with me will help you there - check it out and see if it’s for you.