It's Back to School Time
Most of you have sent your kids back to school. What a relief to have your days back. No more taxi service, amusement park lines, and Thursday night sleepovers. It back to school and back to work.
As you did with your kids, it's time to review your "back to school" checklist. You want to have a great Q4? Follow these simple guidelines.
1. Be prepared - You went to Target and got all the school supplies your kids needed to start the year off right. Did you go into their room and find an old notebook that had 50% of its pages still fresh and declare to your kid, "Hey, this is a perectly fine notebook from last year. Let's use this!"
No you did not. You went out and got all new supplies. This is the fourth quarter. You will make or break this year, and set up next year over the next few months. Go ahead, buy that new laptop. That new Android or iPhone. Spend a day getting rid of all the junk around your desk and on your C:Drive. Get on LinkedIn, Facebook, WebEx, or Twitter. Learn what these social media venues can do for your prospecting...and they are all free.
2. Get something started - Your kids and you have to sign up for all sorts of activities right from the start. Clubs, intramurals, parent snack shack duties, fundraisers. There is a lot going on the first few weeks for a reason. Those first few days will determine the success of the program.
Send out an email, invite your top prospects to a meeting, to a breakfast or to a management review. Host a WebEx and allow your prospects to hear what your plans are for the fourth quarter. Give them something for free or minimal investment so they can begin to develop a value proposition before you resort to discounting your offering on December 29th.
3. State your intentions - It is the time of the year to set some goals. How many Russian sales calls per week for the next 3 weeks? Number of prospecting calls per week. How many broad and deep contacts will you have at your top three major accounts by the end of September? Remember, a goal not written down is like getting into a rental car without a map. Good luck getting out of the airport without one of those.
4. Declare your major - Your kids even in 9th grade now are being asked what subject they want to major in. With limited school resources, administrators need to get an idea of how many kids will be signing up for what subjects. Same with you.
Where are you going to get 80% of your Q4 revenue? What 3-5 accounts have the greatest potential? Call them up and ask them what are their plans for Q4 and Q1 2011, and see if you can fit in to their Solution Box.
5. Go to the first dance of the year - Kids either are looking forward to the first dance, or they are making up excuses why they don't want to go. The ones who go will make new friends, re-establish their old relationships, and set the stage for the rest of the year.
Your dance is on October 1, and it will set you up for the rest of the year. Go see as many customers as you can in September and do not ask,
"Are you going to buy anything from me this year?"
What a push. Go see your customers and ask them,
"What are the critical items you are deciding on in Q4 that will be affecting your Q4 and Q1 business? What do you see as your biggest risks in accomplishing these objectives."
Study after study shows that about 70% of executives want their vendors to ask about their pressing issues and risks. It shows a concern about helping them solve their problems. About 15% of sales calls live up to this request. Stop pushing, go to the dance and ask, don't tell.
Have a great send off to the quarter. Get rid of those old habits and start fresh. Fourth quarter only comes around once a year, and the spoils go to those who are well prepared.