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April 12, 2022

Think-Plan-Do #2: 3 More Smart Ideas For Your Marketing & Sales

This is the second in our new once-a-month Think-Plan-Do blog series where I’ll share three low-cost/no cost ideas to help with your sales and marketing efforts. [You can read the first one here.] This month, our three topics are:

Think: You have two kinds of clients

Plan: The sales pipeline report

Do: Tips for your capabilities presentation

Think: You have two kinds of clients

When most business leaders think about their marketing and sales, too often their focus is on finding and acquiring new clients. And that’s fine… but that’s only part of the picture. When you think about growing your business, you really need to start with your existing clients. You can’t build a healthy, successful business without repeat clients, so look at the clients you have right now – on an account-by-account basis – and ask yourself:

  • What’s the current status of each?
  • Who do I know at each client? Who do I need to know?
  • What’s going on at this company that could impact our business with them?
  • What sort of goals (revenue and activity) can I set for each?
  • What – specifically – do I need to do to achieve those goals?
  • Note: Pay extra-special attention to key accounts.
  • Note: Think ‘cross-sell’ and ‘up-sell.’

Keeping and growing your existing clients should be your first priority. Once that base of business is solidified, then you can worry about finding new clients.

Plan: The sales pipeline report

If you’re involved in managing your firm’s sales efforts – even if you’re a solo practitioner – the single most effective tool you need (and maybe the only one) is a sales pipeline report. Designed and used properly, a pipeline report can tell you:

  • All of the sales opportunities currently in progress
  • The stage in the sales process for each one
  • The current status/next steps for each one
  • How long each opportunity stays in each stage
  • The dollar opportunity for each and the chance of winning it
  • Total dollars forecast

As a manager, the pipeline report provides most of the critical information you’ll need to effectively manage and coach your salespeople.

And whether the information comes out of your CRM or you use a simple Excel pipeline [download here], having some sort of pipeline tool in your sales management toolbox is critical.

Do: Tips for your capabilities presentation

95% of the capabilities presentations delivered in our industry put the potential buyers to sleep! [I know this because I have seen presentations from scores of firms!] Why does this happen? For two reasons:

  1. Most presenters want to cram as much information as possible onto each PowerPoint slide.
  2. The presentations are too seller-focused; the buyer is never told why they should consider a particular vendor.

Here’s how to fix that:

  1. Edit your deck. Cut out 80% of the words. The slides are not meant to be a script… they’re talking points so that the presenter is the ‘star of the show.’ If you’re loading up the deck with every single detail of information, why are you even there?
  2. Smart use of bullet points. The use a bullet points is fine, but don’t overdo it. Follow the ‘4×4 rule’ – no more than four bullet points per page, no more than four words per bullet. Remember, the words are there as talking points.
  3. Stop using ‘About Us’ slides. Nearly every presentation starts with several slides titled ‘About Us.’ You’re wasting time and boring the attendees… they already know what you do. If they didn’t, you wouldn’t have been invited to present. Instead, focus your presentation on how you can help them solve their problem(s) and how you’ve helped other companies do the same thing. And in telling those stories, you’ll reveal the About Us details.


That wraps up the second post in our Think-Plan-Do blog series. We hope you found the information beneficial. Part 3 in the series will be posted next month. In the meantime, let me know what you think of these ideas and if there are any other specific topics you’d like to learn more about in the future.

Good luck.

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