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Create a plan to get more sales in 2 hours

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

This step-by-step guide describes an approach that takes about 2 hours, and results in a plan to generate more sales. For our paying customers, we happily facilitate this workshop online for free.

But first: why do we make this public?

We want you - including any potential customers - to succeed, and this guide will help you to achieve your goals.

I spent over a decade working as a consultant, and created hundreds of high-level roadmaps and high-level architectures for both SME's and very big institutional organisations. Next to this I travelled all over Europe to give workshops and teach methodologies that allow you to get to tangible results fast.

As I spent multiple years facilitating roadmap workshops for a living, I know what works and what doesn't, so I might as well share it with you, so you can succeed too.

Tom posing in  front of some Greek landscape view.

Yours truly during one of my mid-week trips a couple of years ago. I can confirm: Greek hospitality is the bomb!

A high-level overview

In order to get more sales, you have 3 options:

  • Get more people interested in your product or services;

  • Convert a higher percentage of your incoming requests into a sales;

  • Provide additional value for your existing customers.

This approach is a fast-track, reduced to the essence. It considers 5 different questions about the current situation in your organisation:

  1. Who is your customer?

  2. What do these customers need?

  3. Why do these customers come to you?

  4. How do these customers experience your service or product?

  5. What happens with these customers after you delivered your service or product?

From these answers we will derive a prioritized roadmap that allows you to take action immediately. The total exercise should take no more than 2 hours.

I added some example answers for each of these questions, so you know what to aim for.

In order to be able to do this in 2 hours, we will heavily timebox it, and use a the following technique to gather and consolidate our answers:

Sales technique: get a prioritized list in 20 minutes max

Whether you do this exercise alone, or with multiple people, it helps to have set a schedule to guarantee a tangible result in a fixed timeframe. As your roadmap will be based on assumptions, it makes sense to strive for a "good enough" result, and re-evaluate on a quarterly/yearly basis.

Perfect is the enemy of fast.
Give people an hour, and it will take an hour. Give people a day, and it will take a day.

The following approach will allow you to get (a group consensus on) a prioritized list in 20 minutes max:

  1. Hand everyone post-its, sharpies & get a timer.

  2. Set your timer to 5 minutes and have everyone write down their personal answers to the question. (Use keywords on a post-it, the goal is to have as many ideas as possible, even silly ideas might be valuable, so make sure to have an open mind. Don't share them with the group just yet.)

  3. Consolidate all post-its, and group them as you consider it necessary. If a post-it is not clear to a person, explain it, but try to do it in a single sentence. Don't start defending or discussing ideas. (This should take no longer than 5 minutes.)

  4. Set your timer to 5 minutes again, and allow everyone to put a total of 5 dots on the post-it to prioritize it (you can put all 5 dots on the same post-it, or spread them evenly, or only a few dots; it's fully up to each users to choose a prio).

  5. Once everyone has put down his 5 dots, you sort the post-its, ordered by the most dots first, and voila, you have a consensus on your top N answers. (This should even take less than 5 minutes.)

Using this technique will allow you to get to a consensus fast and without a lot of discussions.

A community event facilitated by Tom.

One of the community events where I facilitated a session for over 40 people. A nice place and proper food & drinks are not a necessity, but they do help to set the atmosphere.

AS-IS: current situation

First you need to answer the following questions using the aforementioned technique.

1/ Who is your customer?

First you need to figure out who your customer is, where they hang out, how they spend their time etc. I prefer personas that are tangible persons, because it makes the rest of the exercise easier:

  • Frank is a 60-year old entrepreneur that loves challenging the status quo. He's also a true foodie, and a has a huge professional network in finance. He has a 19-year old daughter and spends a lot of time with his girlfriend at their second home, near the sea. He hates anything tech-related.

  • John is an epicurist. He loves his job, but cares a lot about the social and ecological impact of his job. He is actively engaged in local non-profit-communities. It takes a while to gain his trust, but once you do he is very loyal.

Use the technique mentioned above to get a top 5 of personas that represent your customer.

2/ What do these customers need?

Once you determined your top 5 personas, you need to describe their biggest needs: what keeps them awake at night, what are their needs. This list needs to be as broad as possible, and while it might include a need that your product or service resolves, it does not need to.

  • Frank's needs:

    • As Frank hates anything tech-related, but is clever enough to understand that he can't live without it, he needs someone who he can delegate this to.

    • He needs to stay on top of the financial market to provide value to his network in finance.

    • His second home is the place where he can take some time off, and think about what to do next... He typically goes there during the school vacations together with his daughter and girlfriend.

  • John's needs:

    • John is heavily engaged in ecological communities, so he needs to stay on top of the latest trends in this space.

    • He loves the local facebook groups where people help each-other out without expecting any return on it. He is also heavily involved in ecological facebook groups.

    • He takes all online information published on corporate blogs with a grain of salt, and might not trust the info provided, so he needs to see validation in the specialized press.

The idea is to get a general guess about the people we would like to become our customers, and understand their whereabouts and what motivates them. This requires a lot of assumptions in the beginning, but over the years you will start to understand who your ideal target customers are.

Virtual Sales Lab at PolyClose

Me & my former associate doing some guerilla marketing at Polyclose

3/ Why do these customers come to you?

It is key to understand why your customers come to you, and do not go to a competitor. This implies you need to understand how your customer discovered you, and why your customer opted for you over other suppliers.

  • Frank's process:

    • Frank first heard about you during one of his business network events, and asked his tech trustee if he knew more about you.

    • The tech trustee checked your online presence, read your customer testimonials and looked for online reviews. He was mostly looking for social proof and found it.

    • During his time off, Frank read some of the articles that his tech trustee forwarded to him. These articles helped him to understand your product or service better.

    • The final straw that convinced him was a very positive video testimonial of one of your customers who is considered a thought leader in your sector.

  • John's process:

    • John first met you during a non-profit event in your vicinity, where you sponsor a local community of upcoming artists.

    • You met him a few times without even talking about work. A few months later, your partners meet and they happened to talk about what you do, and how it might be interesting for John.

    • Next time you see John, you ask about his work. He seems to be very closed about sharing more info about his job.

    • A few months later, John comes to you with a problem, and a request for a quote. You notice you are the only person he asked to provide a quote. You come to an agreement in a matter of weeks, and he turns out to be a very loyal customer.

    • Apparently John subscribed to your newsletter after you first met, and he kept quiet about it the whole time. You find this out during the sales process, because he seems to be so well informed

One part of getting more sales, is understanding how your customers get to you, and what triggers them to initiate contact.

4/ How do these customers experience your service or product?

Experience is key. Decision makers might or might not be heavily involved during the delivery.

  • Frank's involvement:

    • Frank gets briefed regarding the progress by his trustee.

    • The only time you had a very short phone call from him directly, was when there were some issues regarding the delay of the final delivery. He was short, to the point, and asked for a formal confirmation of the new deadline.

  • John's involvement:

    • As this is your first project with John, he likes to stay on top of things. He constantly asks for updates and wants to know every little detail.

    • Things escalate a few times, as he tends to disagree with certain aspects you assumed would not be a problem.

    • It takes you quite some effort and persistence to handle the problem, but as you both want to succeed, you find a solution.

    • Overall, when asking John for a feedback score, you get 3.5 out of 5...

The way people experience your service is product is important. People that *love* your service or product usually provide a lot of mouth-to-mouth feedback to their peers, but people who are disgruntled tend to do the same. In today's world, customers can easily spread their opinion on the click of a button or during an event, so it is important to strive for a positive customer experience.

5/ What happens with these customers after you deliver the service or product?

What happens once the product or service is delivered? Is there any involvement at all?

  • Your involvement with Frank:

    • You sent him an invoice, and it took a little of pushing through to get it paid. Apparently - as you hear from the tech trustee - this is his default modus operandi.

    • You bump into him about a year after that, and ask him for feedback. He does not seem to recall a lot of details, but says it was "good enough". When you ask him to be more specific, he tells you he can't recall it anymore, as it has been to long.

  • Your involvement with John:

    • Even though you meet him on a regular basis in your private life, you never talk about work at private events.

    • John provided an extensive email of things you could improve after the fact. You promised him to follow up, but failed to do so, because you have so many other things to do.

    • He remains subscribed to your mailing list.

It doesn't take a genius to realize that there is room for improvement in the examples above.

TO-BE: build a roadmap

The exercise we mentioned above, described the as-is: how do your customers currently experience their journey. Next we want to think on how we can improve this journey. We do this in a few steps, using a similar approach as for the above:

  • Set a timer to 20 minutes, and have everyone put up post-its with potential improvements for each step of the aforementioned journey.

  • Together with the group, go over each post it, and place them according to the graph below:

Risk/efoort vs potential impact matrix

The post-its that are the closest to the bottom right should get your priority.

  • Determine a measurable goal that you would like to achieve within the next 3 months (amount of visitors, amount of leads, quote-to-delivery-time of n days, ... ).

  • Use the dot-voting mechanism from above to prioritize your potential solutions, taking into account this measurable goal.

If we would apply this to our example, we could have the following potential solutions (Risk & effort / impact):

  • Discovery

    • Join one of these financial events. (S/M)

    • Join one of these awards in a financial newspaper and hope to win it. (L/M)

    • Get featured in one of these tech blogs about why you are so innovative. (M/M)

    • Buy facebook ads targeting local communities. (M/S)

    • Buy facebook ads targeting eco communities. (M/M)

  • Needs

    • Provide plenty of "product/service explained" videos. (S/L)

    • Have case studies, papers, blog posts available. (M/M)

    • Provide testimonials. (L/S)

    • Be involved in peer groups. (S/L)

  • Delivery

    • Fixed governance: provide a weekly report with KPIs, monthly steering committee. (L/M)

    • Involve the customer during the delivery. (M/M)

    • An online article explaining your approach (Steps, deliverables, assumptions & risks) (L/S)

  • After delivery

    • Customer of the month video (M/M)

    • Weekly newsletter (L/S)

    • Ask for impressions after a day/week/month/year (L/M)

    • Ask for one or more referrals (L/S)

    • Follow-up with an up-selling drip campaign (M/M)

Use dot-voting to determine the priorities, and make sure you can follow-up the outcome of each action you take in a measurable way.

A 3D configuration

This was the initial demo I built in a weekend that got me my first customer. Needless to say I did not have a multi-year roadmap at that point in time.

In closing

This exercise should take no longer than 2 hours and the end result should be a tangible roadmap that will allow you to take action immediately.

This exercise uses quite a lot of short-cuts, so there are several ways you can improve this exercise the next time you do it or want to allocate more time to the exercise:

  • Don't make assumptions about your personas, but go out and talk to your customers.

  • As time will pass, you will gain new insights. Take the time to re-evaluate your roadmap once a quarter/year, using the same techniques as mentioned before.

  • The roadmap should provide some long-term stability, but should not be set in stone. Be consistent on the long term, but agile on the short term.

  • This is a generic approach. If you do this exercise more than once, you can look into other techniques: SWOT analysis, swimming lanes, business model canvas, ... to keep it interesting or find new angles.

  • Every single step can be a workshop of multiple days on it's own; be creative and always consider the effort vs expected result before you engage in workshops like this.

Phew! This was a long post, but I hope it will help you to create your own roadmap to get more sales.

If you have any feedback, hints or tips, feel free to share them in the comments.


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