Forget New Years Day. When you are in business or sales, the year begins on Monday morning of the first full week of January. I’ve been at my desk today since 8am and the emails and phone calls have been coming in fast and furious. Yes, the pitches begin.
I understand the eagerness. The air is cold and crackling with the possibility of this fresh new year. Social media is chattering about goals and dreams and quotas for 2015. I started work on my 2015 plan back in late October, so my year is pretty well laid out before me.
The challenge now is to stick to the plan, and not be led off course by the phone calls. The chatter. The pitches. That is not as easy as it seems. It is a fine line between shutting down distractions and losing out on a product or idea which can help you achieve your goals. It is a challenge to be focused on your plan and still keep the radar up for new stuff. I’ve seen people with such big radar that they spend gads of time evaluating everything that comes across their desk. This means less time working their plan, so they struggle to meet goals.
I don’t profess to be an expert. I’ve fallen into the same traps over the years. I have found a few guidelines which work for me.
1. Late to the Party
I’ve seen great pitches from skilled people who are offering help with marketing strategy and plans. January is not the time to be thinking about how to market. January is the time to kick off implementing the strategy you carefully developed in Q4. Sorry sweetie, you came late for my party.
2. Off the Map
If a new pitch doesn’t line up with the projects and goals I’ve set down for the year, it is easy to let it go by. For example, I know that changing the phone system in my office isn’t a priority this year. The services work, our needs are met, the pricing is fair. I just filter out all the pitches from telecom and VOIP folk. When it comes time to think about planning for next year I’ll look at whether that is a project to add to the 2016 map.
3. No ROI
One of the many benefits of being in business for 10+ years is that I know our target market well, and what sort of messaging works for us. I am often approached by some assertive sales people with some expensive marketing ideas. Within a few minutes I know if the numbers could possibly work for my company, and I have not been shy about ending a call when I realize the ROI isn’t there. Sometimes this pushes them into scare tactics. “Well then if you don’t want more customers this year….” or “Oh then your competition will grow and you won’t.” Remember their job is to close a sale. Your job is to know your business. If the ROI isn’t there or the audience isn’t your target customer, walk away. Fast. And get back to working your plan for the year.
How often do you say no to sales pitches?