2014 Resolutions for Salesfolks

090_thurber_excelsior_1Anthony Iannarino has one of the best sales blogs out there. If you sell to other businesses, I would consider a must-read. 

He recently posted a ‘cut to the heart’ post on resolutions that very much applies to B2B-focused owners. Read on for my no-bull self-assessment (Tony’s challenges are in italics).


Resolve to avoid shiny object, shortcuts, tips, and tricks that are fronted under the guise of getting you quick results without effort. The only path to mastery comes from spending time on the mat.

 Ahhh, my greatest weakness. Shiny object syndrome temporarily crippled our company at least five times this year. Ill-formed partnerships, semi-spammy outreach tactics, and a lack of sharp focus on our clients (nearly) scuttled our company.

In 2014, I resolve to focus on the areas of truly great value to our clients: newsletters, blogs, outreach and one-on-one training. And that list will only change if our clients tell us otherwise through words, results (or lack thereof).

 

Resolve to engage in the difficult conversations around the right ideas and the right investments with your clients instead of avoiding them because you fear losing. The way to become a trusted advisor and a consultative salesperson runs straight through your willingness to have difficult conversations.

We did better this year on that. Asking hard questions is easy for me … hell, it’s in our name and deeply ingrained in our brand and my personality. However, acting on the answers to those tough questions hasn’t been so easy

In 2014, I resolve to walk away from a client relationship that is not grounded in mutual benefit, saving our sanity and reputation, and their budget.

 

Resolve to spend more time nurturing relationships and prospecting and working on opening more relationships and opportunities. Making your number in 2014 means winning new clients.

 One of the hardest lessons I learned this year, happened in June when I became so focused on cultivating referral clients, that I let my pipeline of new small business owners go dry. And we paid the price. Our cash-flow dropped nearly 200% because of that seemingly small omission to our daily activities. 

In 2014, I resolve to patiently nurturing new relationships EVERY DAY, and work with Seth to create marketing that attracts more strangers to our brand, so they can become our clients (and friends).

 

Resolve to create value before claiming any—and start creating it now (Go ahead and take a running start into 2014!).

After a pride-swallowing coaching session with Sebastian Marshall a few months ago, one weakness in our business smacked me in the face – we didn’t focus on delivering the highest value of service. Not to say we didn’t deliver value in 2013, we did, however, we failed to zoom in our efforts on the area of greatest value.

In 2014, I resolve to keep our services focused on the area that benefit our clients the most – and to reinforce the earlier resolution to walk away from potential client relationships where the potential for that value exchange just doesn’t exist.

 

Resolve to fill your calendar with commitments—to yourself—and keep those commitments. You build your value to others when you win the private victories that precede the public victories (while you are at this idea, re-read Stephen Covey).

2013 was the year of the Roadmap for Small Biz Triage. What started as a (at the time) befuddling suggestion from a seasoned copywriter at Cole & Weber – “You really need an editorial calendar” – evolved into an Editorial & Outreach Calendar, and has most recently become one of our highest impact service – The Small Biz Roadmap.

In 2014, I resolve to incorporate the roadmap into my daily routine. To practice what I preach, draw a good map, follow it to the letter, and re-check my bearings weekly.

 

Resolve to treat all of your existing clients as if they are prospects, discovering their new needs, their new dissatisfaction, and the new opportunities to make a difference for them. If your 2014 plan includes increasing your sales, wallet share is necessary.

Looking back on our biggest clients of the past year, one trait consistently runs throughout – they all started small, and matured into larger relationships. Our relationship with Fidalgo Films started as a small Kickstarter campaign support project, and evolved into a professional relationship that helped both of our companies reach great heights.

In 2014, I resolve to remember our roots, and keep it small. Earn my clients’ trust. And continue earning their referrals (and respect).

 

Resolve to forgive yourself for the mistakes and missteps of last year. Failure isn’t permanent; it’s an event. Failure is only a bad thing if you decided not to learn from it.

No worries there. In transparency comes acceptance and eventually forgiveness. I’ve earned more business discussing my failures than I ever scored talking about how awesome I (think) am.

In 2014, I resolve to continue our tradition of transparency.

 

Resolve to develop a great ability to help your clients and prospects improve their businesses. Resolve to do what is necessary to improve your business acumen, your situational knowledge, and the ability to apply it. The easiest way to grow your business is to be someone worth doing business with in the first place.

Achieving a high-level of expertise in growing small businesses is something we tackled hard in 2013. Forging relationships with the true experts in productivity, SEO, design, usability, product management, finances, and more has illuminated all of the weaknesses in our approach. In some cases, we fixed the process, and in other cases we found someone better at it, and outsourced it.

In 2014, I resolve to continue learning. Already signed up for an accounting course ;-)

 

Resolve to stop making excuses and own your results. Resolve to take full responsibility, regardless of the circumstances. If the economy tanks in 2014, it is still going to be largest economy in the known universe. 

I don’t think we’ve ever made an excuse to a client. Methinks we should rephrase this to “Stop screwing up” …  or something like that.

 

Resolve to act with an inspiring sense of urgency. Resolve to follow up and follow through as if time is of the essence.

We lost two major deals this year due to a slower than required response on delivering the proposal (and deliverables). Doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it erodes our reputation.

In 2014, I resolve to pursue relationships where our skill-set is more than adequate to remain nimble throughout the inevitable changes in the market.

 

Resolve to change what you need to change and to double down on what is already working for you.

We sold our last website development project this year. It’s something we should have done years ago, but I struggled with that ‘walk away’ resolution mentioned above.

In 2014, I resolve to remember why I stopped selling websites and design services, to reinforce my decision to focus on what we are truly awesome at.

 

Resolve to make an uncompromising excellence your standard. Resolve to do the best work of which you are capable in each and every moment. When you are sick and tired, do the best work you are capable under those circumstances.

Doing my best has been a habit, since it was beaten into me while at the Air Force Academy. Instead of resolve to do my best to avoid relationships that dilute my best into just good enough. 

 

Resolve to vanquish your fears (insert the name(s) of your fear(s) here). If there is one thing that will prevent you from succeeding in 2014, this is it.

My biggest fear as a business owner this year was paralyzing burn-out.

In 2014, I resolve to remove weak relationships from my business (and my life), to make room for rest.

 

Resolve to give more. Resolve to stop withholding your light. In 2014 resolve to share more of yourself, and resolve to share more with those who need your help.

Yah, going to have to disagree on this one. While triage-ing our own business this year, our ‘charitable spirit’ distracted us from our clients who needed us so much that they happily paid.

In 2014, I resolve to give more to those who can multiply the impact of our efforts into true success. 


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  • http://www.thesalesblog.com S. Anthony Iannarino

    That’s some nice work, Nate! And good on ya for doing the work–and doing it so transparently! Thanks for taking up the challenge and for pointing people to the post.

    Anthony

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