Much of my current reading suggests that the recession is over. The stock market is over 11,000 and most indicators are improving. Economist Brian Beaulieu, states that the next three years will bring a broad-based recovery in consumer and B2B markets. He says, “It is time to start investing in your businesses again. Have you had a planning meeting focusing on continuing to do what you believe is best for your brand, your culture and your business?
Here’s how my Vistage members and clients are improving profitability greater than their competition by concentrating on the following:
1. Customer Satisfaction – whether or not you’ve tried and failed over the last several years, you need to measure your customer satisfaction. Do you track or know your retention rate? What percentage of your 2010 revenue came from 2009 clients? What initiatives are you implementing in December and January to jump start 2011? If history is a predictor for the future, set up key performance indicators (KPI’s) that go back 1, 2 or 3 years. Kraig Kramer’s web site http://www.ceotools.com/ is a great place to start.
2. Sales Process – My members and clients are reviewing and evaluating their sales process. If you are dissatisfied with your performance results, strip it down and build it back up. Develop a 6 to 8 step process that will encourage the client or prospect toward the desired decision. Does your process have triggers or gates that must be met, opened and closed in order for your sales team to earn the right to ask for the order? What are your internal costs for a proposal, a pilot or a finished RFQ? What is your closing ratio with current clients/customers vs. leads generated from your marketing department? Does that ratio suggest you should spend more time and marketing dollars focusing on current customers? KPI’s are critical and essential to create a predictable pipeline. Bob Davis http://simplesalesstrategy.com/ is a local consultant focusing on sales blocking and tackling. He is a Austin Trusted Advisor founding member http://austintrustedadvisors.com/
3. Communication – Are you sending via email “from the desk of…” newsletter both internal (employees) and external (customers). Consider using the US Postal Service to your customers with a routing box with titles in the upper left hand corner. Is your body language messaging positive, upbeat? Are you as the CEO or owner meeting with your top 10 percent of your customers and clients? Peter Schutz, retired Porsche CEO shares in his workshop”…if you will listen, your customers will explain your business to you.” Each of us need to do a better job in communicating our message, and it starts with your next meeting. Have you really been “present” at the staff meetings? Did you actually help anyone to do his/her job better? Was everybody with whom you came in contact today a little better afterwards? Michael Allosso spoke to one of my CE groups last month and said” …Eyes are your gateway to their soul,” he went on to share that when talkng to a group work the room with your eyes and make contact with everyone over and over again. Hard to do yet with practice a very meaningful talent when trying to connect with your audience.
4. Leadership – Wikipedia defines leadership as the “process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task. I like to say it is pushing people outside of their comfort zone. It’s your leverage, your ability to get things done through others is critical to your growth and company success. Starting with you, list the #1 person responsible for key role, key positions or departments such as: Sales & Marketing, Operations, Finance & Accounting, HR, IT. Then list key measurements or duties. Separate essential from preferred tasks. Then take you P/L or Balance Sheet and assign a line item to each of your management team. Hold them responsible for delivering promised results.
5. Create a fun place to come to everyday. Your “fun” culture sets the tone for employee productivity. Think about what you could do in Q1 2011 that would put a smile on each of your employee’s faces. Small rewards for performance go a long way.
What will you do to set yourself apart from your competition in Q1 and throughout 2011?
Ed Stillman is a Vistage Chair in Austin, Tex., working mostly with business owners and CEOs who are growing their profitability greater than their competition. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org