It’s that Time of Year Again: Annual Reports Are Out

If you make a habit of reading your customers’ annual reports, good for you. The bad news, however, is that the one you have is probably 15 months out of date as of this week. The good news is that it’s that time of year again—at least for companies whose fiscal year ends December 31. New annual reports are just being delivered to stockholders, and are available online in case you did not receive a hard copy in the mail.

Now is a good time to dust off your key account plan, using the latest annual report as fodder to update necessary information.

  • Did they announce new initiatives and strategies?
  • If so, are your current sales efforts and existing opportunities aligned with them?
  • How did they perform financially?
  • Is their major emphasis on revenue growth or on cost containment?
  • What fresh concerns or issues are they facing, and what are you doing to help with those?
  • Did they make any major acquisitions during the year?
  • This may open up additional sales opportunities for you.
  • If your account plan contains a SWOT analysis from the client’s point of view, the new annual report will probably provide a ton of entries to update the one you have.
  • You can also use the annual report as a reason to set up a comprehensive account review with the appropriate level contacts.
  • If necessary, pull the entire account team together to ensure shared understanding and to discuss and brainstorm new approaches to the account.
  • Think of your upcoming meetings and calls with people in the account. How are you going to use the new information in your next contact?
  • Does the Chairman’s Letter furnish any good quotes you can include in your next sales presentation?

Also, keep in mind that you don’t need to reserve annual reports just for existing accounts. In fact, the latest annual report, and the information it contains, is a great excuse to get back in touch with those prospects who haven’t been returning your calls. It shows you’re on top of things and gives you excellent specific information you can use to develop a value proposition.

Finally, the good news is that you don’t need to read it from cover to cover. If you need a reminder on how to do a focused reading, check out this post. And, if you want an in-depth education on how to use annual reports and the financial information they contain, get a copy of Bottom Line Selling: The Sales Professional’s Guide to Improving Customer Profits.


·         If necessary, pull the entire account team together to ensure shared understanding and to discuss and brainstorm new approaches to the account.


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1 Comment
  • […] So, as soon as you finish this paragraph, do yourself a favor. Go straight to the Investor Relations section of your top customer’s website, download their 2015 annual report, and then read it. You don’t have to read the whole thing cover to cover, but you should definitely read the Chairman’s Letter, peruse the numbers, and check out Management’s Discussion of Financial results. To glean specific tidbits, use these questions I furnished in a previous reminder. […]

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