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The 'bottom line' to growing 'top line'

The one question being asked by every business leader is, “What can I do to grow the top line?” It’s not just the question that’s important; it’s the sense of urgency with which it’s being asked. After a long winter of freezing temperatures that descended well into Florida, massive snowstorms on the East Coast - it even snowed in Dallas - and storms up and down the West Coast, everyone is ready for sales to start sprouting along with the first flowers of spring. Yet, the question remains; what can you do now to kick top-line sales in the right direction?

So what’s the bottom line on growing your top line? Let’s start with a quote from sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer, “Kick your own ass.” A very good customer of Strategies recently told me that we’re great at teaching companies how to build no-compromise cultures, managing cash flow and how to systematize just about everything, but we don’t teach how to grow that big nasty top line. During the conversation, he said that we helped him grow his average sales ticket by $15, that his service pre-book ratio has jumped well over 50% and a number of other key ratios are up as well. So, with key ratios up, I’m scratching my head trying to figure out why his top line isn’t growing. Something isn’t happening. And it’s not cranking up social networking efforts or investing in some kind of marketing campaign. It’s internal.

Now, I know this good customer is reading this (Hi there, Mr. B.). But this week’s Wake-Up is for everyone. I mean everyone. If you want to get your top line growing, you need to “kick your own ass.”

  • Hold yourself and every team member accountable: Here’s my mantra for winning in these economic times: If any employee isn’t fighting as hard as the company is to make payroll, wake them up or give them a “career opportunity.” Stop tolerating mediocrity. If you’ve been avoiding a straight-talk conversation with one or more employees, you’re compromising. If they’re not being accountable to your systems - you’re the one who’s been accepting it rather than addressing it. Afraid someone will quit? Get over it. Kick your own ass.

  • Rebuild and/or turn your selling systems on: If you’re not getting the results you want, it means your selling systems are incomplete or not being used. Does everyone understand your selling systems? If not, why not? Have you verified that everyone has mastered your systems? If not, why not? Kick your own ass.

  • The basics still work better than the new stuff: Personal contact and interaction is becoming a rare commodity in these days of e-mail and social networking. Pick up the phone and talk to your customers. Call 25 of your best customers and ask how they’re doing. Ask what you can do better. Talk to people. Shake hands with people. How many networking group meetings are you attending each month? If it’s less than two, you need to kick your own ass.

  • Ship it: Seth Godin touts a pretty simple concept called “shipping.” Just get something out the door every day. Try something new every day. If today’s “ship it” proves to be a bad idea, try another one tomorrow. Just keep trying new ideas and you’ll discover breakthroughs that grow the top line. If you’re not trying new ideas every day, you need to kick your own ass.

  • Show appreciation: In the daily battle to grow the top line, it’s easy to forget the easiest way to grow top line. Just show appreciation for everyone who does business with you and your company. I help and coach people every day. I’m a deeply compassionate individual. However, I realized that I’m guilty of not showing appreciation at the level I should be - and I’m doing something about it. I’m picking up the phone. I’m reconnecting with people I care about and respect who simply fell off my radar. I’m kicking my own ass.

If you’re not growing your top line, then you’re being too selective about doing the work that needs to be done. You’re avoiding tough decisions. You’re placing blame everywhere but where it belongs. You’re not looking at the face in the mirror. And you’re definitely not kicking your own ass.

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Please share your thoughts with me about today’s Monday Morning Wake-Up. Click the Comment button above.

Neil Ducoff, Founder & CEO of Strategies and author of No-Compromise Leadership

Pass this e-mail on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They’ll appreciate it.


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