Our first quarter challenges with national show us, once again, how important it is for our teams to become way, way better at new business development. And just improving a little isn’t going to cut it. We have to get a whole lot better.
With that in mind, here are some ways you can see if your team is going to set new business records in 2017. The goal of this post is to give you some things to look at and see which areas you might want to work on in order to make your team more effective at developing new business.
1. Does every one have to play?
Too many senior AE’s, at too many stations, almost have a sense of entitlement that they don’t have to do new business. Or, more commonly, we’ll let them do just a little because they have a big transactional book. You can allow that if you want. It’s up to you. But I think you’re setting yourself up for budget challenges if you’re counting on just your newer team members to do the bulk of your new business.
My belief is that everyone has to do new business, no matter how big their account list might be. In fact, they’ll earn (and re-earn) that fat account list based on how well they do new business. I do tell my experienced veterans that I don’t want them doing new business for crumbs. They shouldn’t be chasing tiny sales. Use their experience to go after bigger accounts. I don’t care if they make their new business budget with just 2-3 sales, but they MUST make that budget.
2. Are there consequences for not playing?
If you say everyone has to play, how do you handle the AE who doesn’t? I understand that if someone is an amazing transactional rep, you might be tempted to let them have a pass. But think through the message that sends to the other members of your team. If you say that everyone has to play, then there has to be consequences. Consequences escalate. In the first quarter, it might be a very direct conversation. But 6 months later, that AE might lose some transactional billing. And 6 months after that…
One of my favorite managers put her top biller on a Performance Improvement Plan because his new business was anemic. Her top biller!! That sure makes a statement. (Consult your local HR person!!!)
3. Do you have a clear new business process?
I love this line: “We lead people, but we manage process.” You must have a specific new business process that functions like the back of the shampoo bottle. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Here are some ideas:
– Do AE’s know highly effective ways to prospect besides the always popular (but horribly ineffective) windshield method? Today’s top new business sellers prospect with stolen ideas from other markets or by going deeper into a category. The days of turning over rocks and cold calling should be behind us.
– Make sure your AE’s know how to prepare and conduct a 30-minute business needs analysis where the client doesn’t hear an advertising question for at least 25 minutes.
– Have a mechanism in place that tracks the % of needs analysis calls that turn into presentations by the AE. My rule? Don’t say no for the client. Give them the privilege of saying no for themselves. Push AE’s to deliver presentations even when THEY think the client won’t say yes.
– Make sure your new business presentations use a lot of success stories, stolen ideas and ROI analysis, when appropriate. All of those things reduce risk. Reducing risk is the key goal of a new business presentation, and whether you close a sale will depend on how effectively you take away the risk.
– Teach your AE’s how to ask for the order. Better yet, teach them how to set up the last 5 minutes of the meeting to close, and when necessary, close again.
4. Keep score!
This is not what you think. Of course, you want to measure the dollars you write. But there’s a different kind of scorekeeping that will make a huge difference in your results.
– Track the actual closing percentage on new business presentations by AE’s. How can you make it higher if you don’t know where you are right now?
– Track the average first three-month order by AE’s on every new business sale made. Again, the goal is to start at a baseline number and get it higher. Until you know the baseline number, how can you help the team get it higher.
– Constantly help your team see that by tweaking those two numbers they can see a great increase in new business, without having to make any additional calls.
5. Make more calls.
There are lots of ways to do that. You could hire more people, which frequently makes sense if you hire decent sellers. You can change your structure so that the non-DMA local transactional accounts are handled by just 1-2 people (at a lower commission), so that local AE’s truly become local AE’s again. You can require that your existing AE’s make more calls.
All those ideas work. The goal of all is more sales calls. Whichever way you can do it is something worth considering.
I’m convinced that it’s time for our sales leaders to make way more than just incremental improvement in their new business efforts. I can promise you that it won’t happen by accident.
For the past couple of years I’ve been telling the groups I speak to that all of us… managers, GM’s, AE’s, and even sales consultants like JDA… are going to be judged by how well we do at new business.
Hopefully these ideas will help stimulate some thoughts and help you determine your plan to accomplish that.
Have a GSM or GM meeting in your future? Why not have Jim Doyle or John Hannon speak to your meeting about how to turn your sales staff into a Sales Force? We promise powerful, thought-provoking content customized to your company’s needs. Contact Jim Doyle at email@example.com or call 941-926-SELL.