Halloween is just barely over, but you would never know it by looking around my house. There is still so much candy everywhere, the bushes still have spider webs on them, decorations have yet to be put away. Did I mention the candy? It’s enough to make a person attempting to live a healthier lifestyle run away screaming. But I don’t have a choice. This is my circus, and these are my monkeys.
Fear can be a great motivator. I have been getting to the gym more often to offset and candy that accidentally falls into my mouth.
So, this post is really about fear – specifically fear of the future, but I didn’t want to put in the title because that seemed a little click-bait-y. And really don’t want you to be afraid of the future, especially if you are prepared for it. Which I’m sure you are, right?
Here are 5 things that I hope you are thinking about, talking about as a team, planning for, or even better, already have on lock.
And the good news is, if you don’t, you have plenty of time.
Just kidding, you have a month. You have a month to get your house in order and be prepared to say that you are fully and completely strategically ready to kick 2018 in the ass. Here goes.
1. Goals: It is important that you decide as an individual and as a company where you want to be by the end of 2018. And I’m talking about sales, growth, new accounts, nurturing existing business, or any other metric that you have deemed vital to your organization. These goals should be set collaboratively, not unilaterally. What I mean by that is that if you are an owner you have an idea about where you want each person to be, and that each team member has an idea about where they think they can get to. You discuss that, negotiate it, and agree on a manageable number that is enough of a stretch as to be challenging but not so high that the person starts off with a feeling of hopelessness.
2. Learning: Money and time should be designated to improve any area that you would not give a high B to if you were awarding grades today. Customer service seems just “meh”? Get some help. Your desktop people falling behind in software and technology? Sales lackluster and you feel they could be better “if only”? Hire a coach. Or buy them some books. Or start watching more Ted Talks. I don’t care what you do, but demonstrate that you or your team needs help and get that help.
3. Competition: Stay ahead of them. Know who they are, what they are up to, what they are planning. And for God’s sake make sure you can articulate how you are different from them. The last thing anyone wants is for some slick person to go in and steal your best customer from underneath your feet without you seeing it coming. Make a study of everyone that is a threat to you and make sure you can defend yourself. If you think I am sounding alarmist and a little military, you would not be wrong. Your future depends on this.
4. Your team: Now is a great time to look at every member of your team and ask yourself, “Are they happy? Do you they understand how important they are to our company? What would I do if s/he left? Are they being fairly treated and compensated? Have I invested in them? I’ll say it again. If they are a valuable part of your company and you would hate to see them leave you, DO THEY KNOW HOW IMPORTANT THEY ARE TO YOU? If not, it’s time to learn how to communicate that value.
5. Investments: One of the easiest ways to grow an existing account or attract a new one is to have a new story to tell. Adding equipment, products or services tells the world that you are strong and looking toward a strong future. Where are your putting your money? And once you do, how will you tell your customers and prospects about it? What is good about it, and what does it mean for your customers? Lock that message down and tell that story repeatedly!
I am rooting for you in 2018. I am rooting for your sales people to succeed. If you are a salesperson I want to see you crush your numbers and make more money than you have in a long time. It is not to early to start envisioning what your 2018 will look like.
As always, I’m here to help if you need me.
As a sales and marketing coach and consultant at Success In Print, Kelly Mallozzi advocates for graphic arts companies to start a revolution and fight to keep print relevant. She may be irreverent, but what she lacks in convention, she makes up for in smart-assery.