You’ve Had a Great Year, Now What?

How do you build on this year’s success?

Congratulations on your past year.  It looks like you’re going to have a year with record sales.  As you move towards the end of the year, what can you do to insure a great final quarter and a faster start in the coming year?  For many Inc. 500, Business Week 100 and Forbes 200 high growth businesses, the end of year doesn’t only mean a high level performance for your team but also leads to questions on where you go from here. I’ve been an executive in several high growth organizations and provided consulting to many more of these high growth champions.  So what I have learned about these businesses that you can apply to your business to keep growing?  There are three things I’ve discovered that you may be going through or are just starting to discover after your great year.  Let’s see if they apply to your business success.

Number 1 – Actively manage receivables, adding additional people, as needed.  All of your people have to have a clear understanding of what it takes to succeed in a high growth environment. During this stage of growth, many organizations are not as concerned as they might be about the profitability in their accounts. In some cases, the receivables are beginning to add up and in other cases, the business may be running low or out of cash. Star sales professionals now have to make sure that the money owed is actually collected and that they begin looking for additional business within their key accounts.  If the salesperson is being paid when the money is collected, they may be struggling because your financial systems are not keeping up with the growth your business is experiencing. If you’re selling new technology, you may also be running into some problems during the implementation. All these factors contribute to problems that your team may not be used to managing.

The solution for this is a close look at the financials to uncover what is happening and how to manage your cash flow better. Consider adding a professional who can help make sure money is collected and allows you to build an infrastructure for future growth while you’re growing. If you’re selling larger projects you might want to consider adding stronger project managers to make sure your early clients have a positive experience with their projects. Many early accounts can become your best spokespeople for the products and services you are selling.  As you finish the installation or implementation phase is a good time to get a client testimonial. Actually, the earlier the better to ask for testimonials.  Many sales professionals feel uneasy asking for testimonials unless they understand how important it is for their future success.  If you’re selling new technologies you must get great testimonials if you hope to achieve long term growth in these markets.

Number 2 – Have the right people doing the right job at the right time. During this stretch phase of your business, roles have to be clearly defined. You might also want to add lower cost team members who can work with clients and make sure the client is getting the attention they deserve. If you have a star salesperson make sure that she is still doing the things that made her a success. It’s easy for the salespeople to take their foot off the accelerator this time of year.  You might want to evaluate your compensation program to make sure you’re still rewarding the behavior you want from your sales team. As you look forward to the coming year, you might sit down with your sales team to determine the best way to grow your business. Depending on what you’re trying to accomplish adding an internal sales team member who can coordinate things with the different sales professionals and also provide needed support internally to the team might make all the difference. Most successful organizations I’ve worked with don’t add more sales professionals until they have a good idea of what makes these individuals successful in their selling environment.  Hiring the wrong sales professional can destroy all you’ve built over the past year and hiring the right person helps your team accelerate into the coming year and keep sales on the growth path. We will be discussing hiring sales professionals in a future blog because of the importance it plays in helping your organization succeed in long term.

Number 3 – Have your consultants help create additional sales in current clients. I don’t mean they have to sell but they should be aware of their responsibilities while on the client site. I’ve seen more successful organizations derailed by consultants who are strong at the technical part of the job but have never received any training on how to work with clients better. In the past, consultants were only expected to be good at their technical roles but today they must understand your business as well or better than your sales and marketing team. They should know how to identify opportunities at the client’s site and also be in a position to help identify opportunities within the clients they serve.  I have found a team of consultants can help insure growth in their current clients while also identifying potential target opportunities for your sales and marketing organization to pursue.  You’d be surprised how often they can help the sale team understand what they are dealing with and who needs to be involved to make sure the new sale happens more quickly and profitably than earlier sales.  Take time to train your consultants and you can get incredible ROI for time invested.

Congratulations on the great year you’ve had this year. If you take the three steps that I’ve shared with you today, you will be well on the way to becoming a repeat winner in growing your business to the next level.

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