We kicked off the year with our highest secured sales along with having a record first-quarter sales. Well on our way to hitting our stretch goal, we were stoked to be having another record sales year.
Then it happened. One of our largest key clients restructured their senior management team. I arranged to meet with the new Vice President and, after a tough meeting, I managed to salvage the account. Not too long after that, I received word that, due to further cuts within that company, the training would be pulled. I had no option but to accept their decision. I had a choice to make. I could sit slumped in my chair feeling sorry for myself or I could step up to the plate as a sales leader and strategize how I could make up the loss.
A quick calculation told me the loss of revenue was over 30% of our current sales for this year. Ouch! Then I did a quick analysis of the past two years to determine how much revenue we had secured at the exact times in those years.
I discovered that we could still hit our sales goal with a lot of focused prospecting and secured sales from existing clients. Over the next hour, I brainstormed my strategy and almost filled a page with my ideas.
Let me share with you the nine strategies you can take when you are faced with losing a big client:
- Rally the team– When you share the news with your team, be optimistic and communicate your plan to overcome the loss. Request their input, buy-in and commitment to your sales and prospecting strategy moving forward.Rallying your team is a great way to build a stronger strategy to help stay the course and maintain momentum to achieve your yearly sales goals.
- Review the plan– Have a look at the next 90 days as well as the remainder of the calendar year to determine ideal prospecting times moving forward. In our case, we had 8-10 weeks before holidays to prospect and secure the lost revenue. We decided to commit to 50 calls per week for the next several weeks. What commitment could your team make to its prospecting efforts to generate increased business? Creating daily and weekly scoreboards to highlight sales activities is a great way to inspire your team to climb back to the top.
- Create a Client Hot List– Brainstorm with your team to come up with 50 existing clients with whom you could easily secure business. The likelihood of generating business with existing clients is always greater. Reach out to these people immediately so you can secure a few quick wins to boost the confidence of your team and create momentum.
- Develop a Suspects & Prospects Hot List– Similar to the Client Hot List, this is a list of potential companies who could become clients. Look at your existing client’s channel partners to generate suspect and prospect ideas then dig a little bit deeper to expand your list to include the key decision makers of those companies that play an important role in the buying process. If possible, have a mutual contact introduce you, as recommendations are always a powerful tool when prospecting for new business.
- Beef up the marketing message– This is a great time to reconsider and strengthen your marketing and sales integration strategy to generate more leads. We quickly reached out to our marketing and social media agency to create a more robust lead generation campaign. They are also a great source of new ideas! After a strategy session with them, we felt a sense of relief knowing the lead generation plan was in motion and that we weren’t alone in its execution.
- Evaluate referral partners– Review those people or organizations with whom you have an affiliation: partners, vendors, associations and sponsors. Connect with these affiliations to determine how you can further collaborate to one another’s mutual benefit to grow your businesses.
- Invest in technology– There are many new sales intelligence tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator that can help you to find new leads. Or MailChimp, that can provide you with analytical insights to better understand who may be interested in your services. These tools can help to secure new leads. Designate a team member to pilot some of these tools to determine which one is the best fit for you.
- Brainstorm new ideas– Are there new products or services you could launch or a special promotion you can run to generate business? It might even prove to be an opportunity to gain new clients.
- Involve all team members– Ask all members of not only your sales team but your support staff, customer service team and all other departments how they can step up to the plate to commit to your prospecting strategy and help grow your business. You may be surprised at their commitment to getting results. It will also help to feel as if you’re not pushing that medicine ball uphill all by yourself.
This loss was a valuable reminder that we must always be leading our sales team to consistently prospect throughout the year to ensure that the pipeline is always full.
If you do find yourself in this position, the most important thing you can remember is to stay optimistic and not let stress or fear get in the way of achieving your sales goals.