The end of 2016 is upon us. It may not be your fiscal year end, but if you’re interested in accelerating revenue growth, the New Year is a good time to start. Here are 11 keys to success:
Make time to think
Seriously. Clear your agenda of those useless meetings. Make time to think. It is always surprising to see how many meetings companies devote to execution planning and reporting, compared to strategic thinking.
Successful people focus on the hard questions every week, and not just during the annual strategic retreat.
What are the hard questions? Check out Freek Vermeulen’s article: 5 Strategy Questions Every Leader Should Make Time For to get started.
Be consistent with your decisions
Whether they’re big strategic choices or day-to-day decisions, you have to ensure they are followed by consistent actions.
If you work for a large organization, you should learn about The Five Steps to Better Decisions by Bain & Company. This is a great framework to help you measure your decision effectiveness, establish how to focus on key decisions, and clarify the what, who, how, and when of important decisions.
But for those of you who don’t need such a formal framework, there is an easy way to check whether you’re putting your money where your mouth is: simply make sure your budget allocation matches your priorities.
Stop opportunity leakage
The ultimate goal of any lead generation program is to move prospects from the point of initial interest to a closed sale. If the leads get lost somewhere between Sales and Marketing, there is no point investing more resources in new marketing programs until you’ve fixed the cause of the leakage.
The solution resides in a proper lead management process with lead scoring and routing. Otherwise Sales will continue to drop the leads that are not sales-ready instead of returning them to Marketing for further nurturing.
Fire that customer
Pareto’s 80/20 rule works to identify your top revenue generating customers, but it is equally applicable to identifying the customers you need to get rid of.
While it’s easy to fire those that don’t pay on time, cost too much to serve or simply irritate your staff, you may be emotionally attached to your first customers even if they no longer fit your ideal customer profile.
Don’t feel guilty. If you can no longer do the best job serving them, you still need to do what’s right for them. Why not refer them to another professional that would better serve their needs? Do yourself AND your customer a favour.
Increase your existing customers’ wallet share
You’ve heard it before: it costs up to five times more to acquire a new client than to retain an existing one. But do you know the real shocker? The #1 reason your existing clients don’t do more business with you is because they don’t even know you offer other products or services.
Prepare a matrix of your top clients and the products or services they’ve used. Then, update your matrix and determine your best opportunities.
Effectively price your offering
Most companies underestimate the strategic importance of pricing. You don’t want to give away your solutions, but price them too high and you run the risk of losing customers. So how do you find that happy medium?
While pricing decisions are inherently complex and need to be part of a larger strategic discussion that takes into account the unique value you bring, you can use the 8020curve.com to get a sense of where you stand. Based on concepts outlined in 80/20 Sales and Marketing by Perry Marshall, this tool will help you identify invisible profit centres.
Put some skin in the game
Verne Harnish calls this “Making a promise that hurts.” Remember when Oracle promised to pay customers 10 million dollars if their Sun-Oracle system didn’t perform at least twice as fast as competitive products?
That’s the kind of promise you don’t want to break, and it is a great way to convince customers to take the next step, especially if your biggest competitor is “no decision.”
Focus on developing new habits instead of a specific goal
The statistics on New Year’s resolutions are quite depressing. Over 70% of people who make them break them within six months, most of them giving up by the end of January.
But since you can’t expect different results doing the same thing over and over, you have to develop new habits. Start small, but be consistent. Do NOT miss a day. Consistency is the mother of habit.
Systemize how you prioritize
One thing that won’t change in 2017 is the number of hours in a day. It all boils down to prioritizing, but how?
This was one of the key questions John Jantsch asked David Finkel, the author of Scale, during his recent podcast on How to Successfully Scale Your Business.
The answer was a surprisingly simple three-step approach focusing on what really matters. First identify the single biggest limiting factor to your growth and brainstorm some possible solutions. Then evaluate each idea on two criteria: is it a low-hanging fruit (something that is easy to do with a high likelihood of success) or is it a home run (something that would produce a big result). The ideas that meet both criteria are the ones you should focus on. Listen to the full podcast (only 25 minutes) for the whole interview. It is well worth your time.
Write your own SLA
Lots of people are familiar with the concept of a service level agreement (SLA). You may even use it with your own clients to guarantee a certain level of service.
It’s easy to say you’re committed to doing things differently, but when you write it down and sign it, you are much more likely to follow through.
Do you want to take it up a notch? Make it public. Post your SLA on your office door or share it with an accountability partner.
Develop a reading routine
Think you don’t have time to read? Larry Page, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Elon Musk are all avid readers who credit a large portion of their success to their reading habits.
Christmas is a great time to pick a new book. It doesn’t even have to be a business book. Some fiction books have great business lessons.
But remember that knowledge is nothing if it is not followed by action. Read to absorb AND apply.
We spend a lifetime gathering knowledge (…) And if knowledge is power, if knowledge is the forerunner to success, why do we fall short of our objectives? (…) The ultimate answer may be the absence of discipline in applying our knowledge.
Jim Rohn, Leading an Inspired Life
There you go: 11 keys to making 2017 your best year ever. Notice there are 11 keys and 12 months. That’s no coincidence. I didn’t want it to sound too much like a 12-step program, and I still expect you to take a vacation this year!
Now that you know what needs to get done, how will you ensure that you won’t put it off? Share your ideas in the comments section.