“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” 

Marcel Proust

Robyn was a new client looking to expand her already successful business that had been around for 11 years and had a great reputation in the community.  She just wanted to take that next jump.

On one of our first calls she excitedly told me of plans for a new marketing program she thought would drive sales.  It was filled with bright ideas for new brochures, new social media, new logos, new sales training programs.  It also came up with a price tag of $120K.

She was pretty clear about what she wanted.  New customers and an $18M bump in sales for the coming year.

“Well what if you could get that without having to spend $120K?” I asked her.

Most of us have been taught we need to “think outside the box” when we have a problem. That almost always implies you don’t already have what you need to get it done.

You’ve got more resources than you think – you just have to stop and look.

Inside the box.

Here are three distinctions Robyn and I walked through to help her create the leverage she needed to drive sales.  By the way, you can do this exercise for a person or a company.

Undervalued relationships – Thinking inside the box involves a different way of looking at whose already in your corner.  Look again with new eyes at the people in your world. If you value something, in this case a relationship, then you take care of it. Do you consistently reach out to engage existing customers? Do they know all of your offerings and how you can help them?  Do you have your team clear on where the company is going and what their part in the game is?

Places to look – existing customers, employees, CRM, vendors, suppliers, advisors.

Underperforming activities –  I guarantee there’s processes in your company that were installed years ago that are outdated and don’t serve the customer or the employee whose performing them. Look for those activities that truly don’t make a difference and stop doing them or revamp them … Make sure to look at both sides of the coin … What are you doing that’s already working, but you just need to do more of it?  For example, if you got a 7% bump in sales when you ran a one off customer appreciation event, what if you did that once a quarter?

Places to look:  sales processes, marketing programs, product/service mix, production techniques, inventory control, scheduling, internal meetings.

Underutilized assets – What have you already spent hard dollars on that you’re not using as effectively as you could be? What’s the business version of the treadmill in your dining room you bought so you could exercise more, but you now use to hang your clothes on?  Reimagine how you could better utilize that asset or move it out.

Places to look – think in terms of physical and intangible assets – vehicles, equipment, computers, software, machinery, buildings, people, processes, company culture, location, reputation, market, customer lists, employees, vendors, advisors. 

In Robyn’s case, working from the distinction of “undervalued relationships” changed everything.

Looking “inside the box” had her see all the relationships she needed to deliver on the sales promise were right in front of her.  The $120K marketing plan was set aside.

Over a period of a few months, she systematically reengaged with her key customers. She reconnected with her business community buddies, all who were more than happy to help her with introductions once she enrolled them in what she was up to.  She reached out to her advisors and that brought her fresh thinking and new insights.  And she taught the system to her salespeople who took it and ran with it.  

Make your list.  Go on a hunt inside your business or your life.

If you went looking, what would you find?  How would it help?