Things were humming along. Coming into the quarter you had momentum from solid closings and high potential to build new business. Then everything went into slo-mo like a B grade action film with you in the leading role. Optimism turned to concern turned to panic. You woke up screaming in the middle of the night realizing there was no way to avoid posting the loss. Now what? Which of the following actions should you take?
a. Give up and put your resume everywhere online.
b. Get a note from a client promising a big contract next quarter.
c. Buy new golf clubs for your boss.
d. Call in sick and enter any available rehab program.
Clearly, the best answer is none of the above. There’s a better choice. You can reset. It’s business. It happens.
Business pros should mimic sports pros when they lose a game. Go back and retune the fundamentals. Here are four ways to recover your business plan:
1. Refocus on Lead Generation
It’s always best to have more leads than you can handle. If your pipeline is slowing down you shouldn’t assume it’s just the business cycle. Autopsy your leads. Are you getting enough of them? Are they the right kind? How are you getting them? Is it through just one or two streams? How are your competitors getting their leads? Who could you partner with to get more volume? What about referrals? Great business developers tap all potential revenue sources. Broaden your aperture outside of the usual suspects.
2. Revamp the Sales Process
What’s happening between lead generation and contract closings? Is there a clog in the pipeline? Did those cost-cutting initiatives canceling equipment upgrades and delaying sales training have adverse effects? Sometimes bottom line improvers kill the topline. Great companies don’t go short on morale-boosters, skills training, quality customer contacts, and delighting customers at every opportunity. It’s easier and less expensive than grinding out new prospects.
3. Rediscover Core Opportunities
It’s typical sales behavior to settle back and take orders when business is good, even though you might be settling for average returns over great returns. Take a look at your core business. Are there clients you haven’t reached out to in a while? At your customer satisfaction interviews with key accounts (you do this, right?) do you ask what new opportunities you could help them with? Are your separate business sectors actively cross-selling or are they staying inside their “silos of excellence?”
4. Redefine the Goals
It’s possible your goals need tweaking. Are they based on measurable data or optimistic feelings? Are they achievable or stretch goals? You don’t want to set the bar too low, but overly ambitious goals can wreak havoc throughout your sales ecosystem. One way to achieve challenging financial goals is to drill down deeper into each goal and define actions necessary for success. What can be done at any given point to move the chains toward that touchdown? Who’s going to do them? And when?
Get back in the game. Make a recovery plan. You’ll crush those numbers the next time around.