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I’m bemoaning sales again.

I’m in the process of wrapping up Q1’s numbers, and I’m pretty pleased with Evolve’s continued growth. We were within $4,000 of my budget goal for Q1, and my team hit our goals from a “bottom line” profitability standpoint. It should be a time to celebrate.

But like every owner, I’m critical of the numbers. In digging into the performance, it appears we sold more project work than recurring revenue. For those following along in the home version of the game, this means that we’re essentially at “square one” again as we enter Q2, and thus need to expend more effort to achieve growth than we did in Q1. If our numbers had been related to recurring revenue, we could be assured of that in Q2.

Thus, while I’m very pleased with our quarter, we’re not done yet. To achieve continued growth, we need more sales.

Do we really need more sales, however, or do we need more marketing? It’s easy to focus on the idea of just closing more sales, as that is the one step that is obvious. But to achieve more sales, we need to make sure we’re meeting more prospects, and to ensure we’re meeting more prospects, we have two approaches.

First, we can seek them out. This is the first thought when focusing on growth. Find more people to meet, to find out about their needs, to put proposals in front of, hopefully, to close. Echoes of Alec Baldwin dance in this thought process, and this is one of the things we will pursue doing. This is sales at its very basic.

However, we can also find ways to have them seek us out. How can we find ways to have customers self-nominate themselves, to identify themselves as interested and in need of our services? How can we have them reach out to us, or visit us, to attend something of ours, or consume our content. This is marketing.

Sales is the act of reaching out to someone to have them buy from you. Marketing is the art of getting them to reach out to you. People fundamentally love to buy. It’s a great feeling to find something, identify it, and buy it. Rather than trying to sell to them, how can we better have them buy from us.

There are a number of things to focus on.

  • Provide compelling content which is of interest. As solution providers, we need to ensure we’re positioning ourselves as that true “Trusted Advisor”, and providing content that is useful.
  • Provide a compelling story. People love to buy something that is interesting. Distinctive. That sets them apart. Often, that’s the “story” of the purchase.
  • Be timely. We need to ensure we’re providing these at the right time. And since we don’t get to pick that time, we need to do it always.
  • Be in the right places. We need to ensure we’re in the places that our prospects are. The deeper we are in the right, relevant places, the more we’ll be established as the obvious choice.

Marketing can seem challenging, but at its core, it’s telling a good story, to the right people, at the right time. In Q2, I’m going to continue to work on the marketing problem. That will lead to sales, and the growth we’re looking to continue.