As 2022 winds down, and you start looking at your sales and marketing efforts for 2023, there’s one question you’re probably asking yourself – like we all are – and that is, “How do we grow [more] next year?”
Before I try to answer that question, let me share one of my favorite business philosophies… “If you keep doin’ what you’re doin’, you’ll keep gettin’ what you’re gettin’.” The fact is, if you want to grow in 2023 – or grow more than you did in 2022 – you’ll have to try something new. Or maybe several somethings. Maybe this is the year you test LinkedIn advertising, create some videos or employ SEO in your marketing. Or finally pull the trigger on hiring your first full-time sales rep.
Whatever it is… you need to embrace it. If not, then the best that you can hope for in 2023 is exactly what happened to you this year.
Plan your work… then work your plan
Maybe that new thing you try this year is actually putting together a sales and marketing plan. Taking the time to be thoughtful and purposeful… not just wingin’ it (like you’ve done in past years).
And your plan isn’t just the “stuff” you want to do… it’s the why you’re doing what you’re choosing to do. It’s the strategy. Some common and practical examples of strategy include: building awareness in the markets you serve; positioning your firm as experts in [insert methodology or industry here]; generating sales leads; and so on.
So, before you worry about what you want to do next year, be clear on the why.
Do your homework
One of the things to think about before creating your strategic sales and marketing plan is to make sure you understand everything going on in and around your business… and the best way to do that is to conduct a little research. And this manifests itself in two ways:
#1. Customer satisfaction surveys: Are your current clients happy with the work you’re doing for them? The key to success with these kinds of surveys is to ask questions specific enough that you get feedback you can actually do something with. For example, don’t just ask your client to “Rate your project manager on a scale from 1 to 5,” but rather, “On a scale of 1 to 5, please rate your project manager on their friendliness… on their professionalism… on their research knowledge… on their communication skills.” Really get into some detail so that if there is something amiss – you’ll know exactly where to go to fix it.
#2. Perception surveys: These are generally conducted once a year. And for them, you’ll ask high-level questions to get a sense of the perception of your firm in the market. Pose these questions not just to clients, but also to former clients and prospects. Ask questions that will help you see how others see you. For example, “What’s the one word that comes to mind when you think of our firm?”, “What do we do – if anything – that’s unique in the marketplace?”, “Why did you hire us the very first time when choosing from a list of potential vendors?” (for current clients), or “Why did you stop using us and switch to another supplier?” (for lapsed clients).
Note: Make sure the surveys come from your President/CEO or a third-party research entity to give them a level of gravitas and increase response rates.
The more you understand what’s going on in around your firm, the more informed decisions you can make when creating your sales and marketing plan.
And when it’s time to get to work, you’ll need to effectively manage your activities. And while there are a ton of tools at your disposal, there are two gotta-haves:
- A calendaring system: for planning out all of your key sales and marketing activities. Make sure you can see – at a glance – what activities are coming up. And whether it’s in your CRM, in your Google calendar, or on a wall chart, the key here is to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.
- A sales pipeline: a tracking sheet for monitoring every active sales prospect, the stage of the process they’re in and any details associated with them. Again… at a glance. Again… in your CRM or on the wall. And again… because you don’t want any critical sales activities to fall through the cracks.
If the recession comes
Over the years, I have read scores of articles about studies done on how to best manage a company – from a sales and marketing perspective – through a recession. In fact, I’ve had to do it a couple of times myself. And the unanimous conclusion in all of those studies is this: If you want things to return to normal (or better than normal) as quickly as possible after a recession, then don’t stop your marketing efforts during a recession.
Studies have shown that firms that continue to invest in sales and marketing during an economic downturn, come out of it faster and stronger than those who stopped investing (and faded into relative obscurity).
And it doesn’t all have to be high-dollar activities, but it does need to be frequent and consistent. Think about activities like social media marketing, email marketing, content creation, making phone or zoom calls to clients, attending networking events, keeping your website up-to-date, and so on.
Change your mindset
Over the years, the biggest excuse (yes, it’s an excuse, not a reason) I’ve heard as to why businesses don’t do sales and marketing is, “We’re too busy!” Bullshit! Sorry… but that’s what it is. No firm is so busy that not a single person in that firm has the time to post on social media or reach out to existing clients between projects or write a blog post every once in a while. If you’re not doing it, it’s because it’s not a priority for you.
And, if, for some reason, you really are that busy (“congrats” by the way) then hire someone to do your sales and marketing or outsource it. Because if you don’t, I guarantee that in short order, the ‘feast’ will draw to a close, and the ‘famine’ will begin… because you haven’t been frequent and consistent in your sales and marketing efforts all along.
While now is a practical and convenient time to do your sales and marketing planning… the fact is, there’s never a bad time to think smartly about the future of your business, to plan out how you’re going to get there, and then to go do it!
I hope our blog post inspires you a little to get ready for great things in 2023.
Good luck and Happy New Year!