Without client sales there is no profit and without profit there is no cash to pay salaries, bonuses, dividends, or invest in your and your business’ future. There are many ways to grow your IT business by turning sales into profit growth and cash in order to fund your future and prosper, even in bad times. It is now time to address sales growth.
Always, always, always assess wins and losses in equal measures. After all we want to improve our sales conversion rate and it helps to build knowledge that can be shared in the firm about which sales messages work and which do not. Analyse the details in the sales process that lead to wins and losses. One boss I used to have spent more time analysing why we lost a sale than why we won, as his logic was it cost him more to lose the sale, winning the sale meant we were doing something right. Identify your best sales performers and discover the reasons why they win.
It seems intuitive to analyse why you lost a bid, although even this is often not done, but to analyse why you won often provides even more useful information. It’s now common practice for high performance sports teams to analyse reasons for dramatic wins, whereas the reverse used to prevail. We can learn from this because the reinforcement of winning behaviours has a big effect on morale and future performance.
Go and find a mentor who is/was a successful business owner and befriend them! This could be a formal relationship through a board advisor, or non-exec type of role, or just informal chats over a beer, but find someone to talk to outside the firm who can help you with the decisions required in the times ahead.
Have you gained your position as head of your business because you were the founder or your sales skills were the best in the early stage business? The answer to this is usually yes and often the full skills required to grow the firm, financial skills for example, are not present on the team.
List all of the leads that you have had contact with in the past 24 months that didn’t turn into wins at the time. Prioritise them and assign responsibility to your senior team to follow-up. The email or phone them all in the next month. It is surprising just how many will respond positively because circumstances have changed – they just needed asking and reminding of your existence!
These days there is no excuse not to track sales leads in a CRM system that gives you real-time visibility of the pipeline. Managing supply/demand is critical to both profits and cash flow.
FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS! Someone once said that good strategy is all about knowing when to say NO! Focus your range of service lines, market sectors and geographies to those where you have a real ‘right to win’. The more you focus the faster you will grow.
Spend enough time working ‘on the business’ as opposed to ‘in the business’. You will not grow if all your time is spent on client and staff issues. Plan quality time for the management team to focus on growing the firm.
This series of articles is aimed at software companies who want to sell and deliver profitable software and grow their business – so keep coming back here for more. Or if you cannot wait and want a free discussion with Phil about the specifics relating to your business or call or email directly our details are here.