With the advent of the New Year, most professionals establish their vision for the future and set some short term goals. Too often, by this time (just a month in!!) we’re back to our old habits and feeling defeated. Visioning exercises and goal setting are essential, but you also need a plan.
The first step in developing your overall strategy should be to take a cold, hard look at where you currently stand. Define the gap between where you are; and where you want to be. This is the time to be brutally honest, or as we often say to our clients; “To Face Reality”. See things as they really are. Do not lie to yourself. Sugarcoating not allowed.
Once you’ve discovered where you stand in relation to your vision, establishing “direction” should be a snap. For most of us, the direction is up, more, higher, greater. So what plans do you need in place once you’ve come this far? Well, you’ll need a plan for all of it. And you’ll need to set priorities. Here are four critical areas to develop tactics and action items around for most business owners or professionals.
What will you do to educate your target audience about the value found in using your product/service? And how will you prove the veracity of your marketing message? Moreover, you’ll need some planning to test and measure your various marketing initiatives. What works and what doesn’t? Who is responsible for marketing and for measuring results? Define acceptable results, and hold your marketing team accountable to the result. “Trying really hard” is not enough; or as one of my own mentors told me long ago; “Do not confuse activity with accomplishment”.
Develop your plan to convert qualified prospects into customers. Define your sales process and train your team. What is your sales cycle? How will you track your progress? If you’re using a CRM you’ll likely have some tools at hand to give you visual representations of your sales funnel and your sales cycle. If not, you should strongly consider utilizing a CRM. You’ll also need to monitor your sales results. What is your conversion rate? How can you improve upon that conversion?
What are the specifics for giving every customer an exemplary experience with your product/service? Is your team trained in those specifics? You need to determine how and when to interact with customers in a manner to which they’re both receptive, and find value. And you’ll need to measure the performance of the team, and your plan for customer service. Define everything: acceptable response time, delivery options, customer training, satisfaction surveys or other measures, and performance/result measurements. Does your company do this? Do You?
Most growing companies face challenges in expanding their capacity to serve more customers. One of those challenges is in growing your team. You’ll need a plan to recruit, on-board, train, and retain top talent for all critical areas of your business. So many companies hire “as needed”, based upon completion of work within the customer’s time frame. To really be a world class service organization you’ll need a plan that involves growing your team proactively instead of re-actively.