Five Sales Ideas to Start (or Continue) in 2011

Out with the old and in with the new for 2011. This means in the world of sales that you should take a run at some new sales ideas for the next year.

1) 90-Day plans only – The world is an increasingly uncertain place. Aside from eating dessert first, what other plan can you set to deal with this uncertainty? Whatever plan it is, including sales, make it shorter. Give yourself the flexibility to make course corrections during uncertain times. Goals for the year, plans for the quarter. Make a new plan at the beginning of each quarter.

2) Divorce Sales and Service – Efficiency comes from specialization. During the past two years you may have consolidated your functions some, including sales and service. Untangle them and get better yield from your people. This idea that sales and service are complementary skills does not test out- not in psychological testing or financial performance. In 2011, separate these functions. If you have already done this, then make certain you have stripped out the insidious “extras” that creep into jobs- redundant paperwork, overly complicated CRM system requirements and data entry. Focus sales on sales and service on services.

3) Lunch with the Enemy – I encourage an occasional dialogue with a competitor. Not treason. Just mutual sharing of market scan information, impressions of the industry, changes in the landscape. If you do not meet with any of your competitors, you are cutting off a huge source of information. Take 2011, pick a competitor, have a lunch and make a connection. As Don Corleone so famously said, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

4) Read Differently – There is too much change out there to be disconnected. Pick three new blogs to follow for this year and follow them. Good bloggers have access to information that you need to know and they are posting it real-time, not in a monthly magazine or trade publication. The lengths are more manageable than books, newspapers and magazines. The information is more tailored if you select the bloggers who are in your interest areas. By changing your brain-food, you can change your vision. If your interest is sales, then let me suggest Daniel Waldschmidt, Mark Kennedy, or my blog over on Bnet. This gives you three different writers and perspectives to challenge what you are thinking and how you are selling.

5) Deliver a more complete solution – Companies are looking for encapsulated solutions. They have reduced staff and cut back on support. They want you to help them through providing more of the support around your solution. If you manufacture, then deliver, stock, inventory, replace and handle returns yourself. If you provide services, expand your scope to handle all of the elements of that service value chain. The point is, for almost all of us, if we diagram the entire value chain of our prospect’s and how they interface with us, there are steps before, during and after. Deliver more of the steps in 2011.

If you want to know what 5 things I think you should stop doing, then check out my latest Bnet post.