Friday, March 25, 2011

Superstar Sales are Real

I had the honor of being one of the judges for Robin Robins' Better Your Best contest yesterday. It was quite amazing to see the commitment of these I.T. professionals. Commitment to their businesses. Commitment to the the craft or running a business. Commitment to their success. And, to be honest, commitment to winning this competition.

What is the competition?

Quite simply, Robin holds a competition every year to choose one of her partners as her spokesperson for the next calendar year. The winner also receives a car. Not a Yugo! This year's winner will receive a Mercedes Benz - A very nice car!

All of the finalists posted up their "stats" with regard to sales and profits for 2009 and 2010. And the numbers were almost shocking. Several people here at the site (who are very successful) are amazed at the results. How did these finals average more than 500% increase in net profit?

Here are a few of the notes from the contest presentations.

Habits - Michael Mandato from System Care was the first person to mention that successful marketing is a habit. You need to do it all the time, have a system, and work the system. All of the finalists ran lots of marketing campaigns. They marketed constantly, not just when times were slow.

Get Out of Your Business - Most of the contestants mentioned that they had to pull themselves away from the daily operation of their business in order work ON the business and make it successful. Diana Spurgus from Business System Solutions pointed out that she had booked 3000 hours in a year. That's 1.5x a full time employee!

It can be very scary and difficult to get out of the business. At a minimum, it requires you to hire someone else to do all that work. But you'll either work yourself to death or choose to do things differently. If you are 100% (or 150%) involved in your business, then there is a limit to how much your business can grow. If you extricate yourself, then your growth potential is unlimited.

Market All the Time! - This is so important and so simple that people end up dismissing it. "Okay. What else can I do?"

Marketing all the time means ALL the time. Newsletters, post cards, direct mail campaigns, outbound calls, etc. Tom Malesic from EZ Solutions ran (and kept track of) 126 marketing campaigns in 2010. WHAT? That's more than ten activities per month. You want your sales funnel to be full? Then you have to fill it.

Keep Working Through Economic Downturns - Some of the contestants had addressed serious financial challenges over the last few years. Stephen Swavley from Navigatum in Australia addressed the challenges of avoiding bankruptcy in Australia. In the U.S. we have guidelines that allow you to go through bankruptcy in an orderly fashion, reorganize your debt in move on.

In Australia you can go to jail! You will be prevented from running a business for seven years.

That's a motivator. Stephen cut everything that could be cut, and focused like a laser beam on bringing in new business. The result is triple digit increases in sales, profits, client count, and recurring revenue.

Execution Matters - Everyone's got plans. Successful business owners execute their plans. Sitima Fowler from Capstone Information Technologies made the point that she had to change every single thing in her business in order to climb into the double-digit growth category. She revisited everything in order to decide whether it moved things forward or simply existed out of habit.

Get Help - You can't do all this yourself. No one person can work 100% as a technician, 100% running the business, and 100% in marketing. Whether you hire someone or outsource the tasks, you need to build a system for success. Brendan Howe from TDCNet hired a marketing assistant who "beats the drum" every single day whether he is working on tech, business, or sales. She just pushes every opportunity forward every day.

Consistency Matters - This ties into Habits and Execution. You can't run one marketing campaign and then whine that you didn't make any sales. Consistency means that you are doing the things you need to do all the time. Drip marketing (for example a newsletter) is great for keeping your name in front of your prospects.

Wendy Gauntt from CIO Services keeps at least five different types of marketing working at all times. Online marketing, newsletters, list-based marketing, tele-sales, postcards, direct mail, and so forth. There are SO MANY ways to market! Pick five or six and do them consistently. Make it just part of how your business works.

- - - - -

Let me be very clear: These are all amazing people and amazing marketers.

But none of them is so different from you that you can't re-create what they've done. Each of these people dedicated themselves to focusing heavily on marketing for more than a year.

Focus on technology and you'll get better on technology.

Focus on integration and you'll get better on integrations.

Focus on sales and marketing and you'll get better at sales and marketing.

YOU can be a winner with triple digit growth. It's NOT easy. But you can do it if you try.

Because . . . if you don't try, it won't happen on it's own.


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