We have all seen this happen. You work hard and bring in tons of business and before you know it, you are so busy you can hardly keep up with it all. Then, all of a sudden it stops and you wonder where all the business went. Why does this happen? For most of us, the answer is very simple. When we get busy, we slow down (or stop altogether) our marketing and prospecting. This inevitably leads to no future business.
How can we prevent this from happening? It is a multi-step process. You must understand both the sales cycle and your ability to deliver your product or service. Then you must create a plan to continually bring in the correct number of leads and prospects. Develop a process for converting a large percentage of prospects so you don’t spend too much time on people who are not going to buy your product or service. Finally, schedule your workflow accordingly so you can manage expectations and meet deadlines and commitments.
Always keep up your marketing and prospecting. This is seems obvious, but it’s easy to lose sight of when we have more business than we can handle at the moment. Be sure that parts of your marketing are automated. Turn up or turn down the marketing, but never turn it off. The valleys in your business are a result of turning of the marketing or turning the volume down too low.
Understand your sales cycle – if it takes six months from the time you identify a prospect until you get paid, not prospecting in May means no $$ in November. This becomes more important as your sales cycle become longer. When your sales cycle is long and your pipeline becomes empty you may not be able to survive the lull. Be sure you know how long it takes to convert a prospect and keep enough moving through the pipeline so you have business close when you are ready to take on new clients.
Do the math – figure out how many people you need to contact, mailers you need to send, ads you need to run every week. This is very simple math and it still surprises me how many business owners who do not take the time to discover these numbers. At the beginning of every period you should determine the number of customers needed to reach your revenue goals. Measure your conversion rate over time so you know who many prospects you need to reach the desired number of customers. Measure the results of various types of marketing so you can understand what is needed to reach the appropriate amount of prospects and develop a marketing plan that will bring these results.
Once you know the minimums, schedule time in your calendar to keep up the activity – and stick to it. If you have worked all the numbers and feel that you can’t keep up the marketing and prospecting necessary know that you won’t reach your revenue goals and adjust accordingly. You must keep this up even during your busiest times. You can always outsource activities to help you maintain the pace.
If you work on large projects where you can only manage a small number of customers at time but have a long sales cycle you also need to manage expectations with your prospects. This can be done with appropriate scheduling and not promising more than you can deliver.