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Selling Microsoft

Partners: 6 Ways To Beat the Summer Slowdown

Resist the urge to take a break in these months. Planning a well-thought-out summer campaign now can pay great dividends later.

Every partner executive must meet every group a client once a year.

The old excuse is that "summer is typically slow." Make this summer different with these six proven sales leadership techniques that will improve your cash flow. Acting now will not only pay off this summer, but your third and fourth quarters will amaze you, too.

1. If You Haven't Performed an A, B, C Analysis of Your Customer Base, Do It.
Essentially, this entails analyzing your customers over three years to discover the total revenue or margin they've generated for you. List all your customers by total revenue or margin, then classify them into A, B and C groups. A common finding is as follows:

A: Top 15 percent of clients that make up 65 percent of revenues
B: 20 percent of clients that make up 20 percent of sales
C: 65 percent of clients that generate just 15 percent of revenues

Now, stop wasting time and resources on your C clients.

2. Develop a Plan of Attack for Groups A and B.
Divvy up your A's and B's and assign them to the sales team or key individuals. Then, based on your existing line of Microsoft, Citrix, or other products and services, review your customers one by one. The meeting where this happens should include your entire sales team, along with key representatives from your technical team.

Look for the typical "cross-sell and up-sell" patterns that occur, and also for what solutions you've already sold to each customer. Even more important is analyzing what products and services you have that haven't been introduced to the customer or that are new to your organization. This proactive approach of looking for potential new opportunities with each customer will turn your sales team into problem solvers. It will train them not to simply find out what the customer wants to buy, but to assist the customer in discovering what will be important.

3. For Every A Client, the Salesperson Must Arrange a Lunch Meeting Between the Customer's Executive and the Microsoft Partner's Executive To Discuss the Overall Relationship.
Often when two executives meet to better understand each other, strategic topics emerge naturally of which a salesperson working directly with the IT department wouldn't be aware. The partner executive must be well-briefed for this meeting. Hint: Every partner executive must meet every group A client once a year.

4. Ask for Referrals.
Have each salesperson connect with a certain number of customers per week to inquire about their satisfaction level with your services. During that conversation, the salesperson should ask about other potential friends or organizations the customer might know that could use that service. If the customer can't offer any names, the salesperson can ask if you could "at least" use the customer's name as a reference.

5. Host a Party.
Late spring or early summer are great times to bring everyone together to not only say thank you, but to educate them on new offerings. This event doesn't have to be expensive, but it should be fun and unique. Some partners have rented boats on a lake or suites at baseball games, and others have used hotel facilities with built-in themes. Invite your best prospects to these events as well.

6. Manage the Process.
As a sales leader, track the results of the activities each week. Did the salespeople execute what was expected? What were the results? Do you need to alter the tactics? What have you learned?

Planning a well-thought-out summer campaign now can pay great dividends later. Imagine lying in your hammock, sipping an iced drink and knowing your quota is already achieved.

More Columns by Ken Thoreson:

About the Author

Ken Thoreson is managing director of the Acumen Management Group Ltd., a North American consulting organization focused on improving sales management functions within growing and transitional organizations. You can reach him at ken@acumenmgmt.com.

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