A client, the president of a cyber security firm, told me during our recent advisory call, that he is bound and determined to make a big leap in revenue and profit in 2018. He’s been working with me to apply intense focus for a week at a time to one aspect of his company, and he’s feeling good. He has discontinued many routine low-value tasks; he found other people to completely take over others. He guards his attention more carefully, which means he attends fewer meetings and pays attention to outcomes, not the details of inputs.
What is he going to do to make that leap in 2018? Contrary to conventional thinking, he isn’t going to start with a review of his financials. He isn’t going make the assumption that things will stay more or less the same next year as they are this year. He isn’t going to write a budget and marketing plan built on this year.
He is going to start with three projects—three one-time activities that will create provide a fresh perspective of his business. These projects will serve as a solid foundation for the rest of his planning for the next year.
You can do these projects this month too.
These prepare the ground for effective cultivating and nurturing of your current buyers, especially your best buyers. Once they are in place, your numbers will follow. But if you don’t complete these steps first, no matter what numbers you target, you’ll be struggling the whole year.
Are you ready?
Project 1) Clean up your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. There are many systems that track your buyers. All of them need careful attention at least once a year, and there is no better time than December to do it.
- Update all the names and contact information
- Create a detailed and useful buying profile for each person
- What did they buy?
- How much of it did they buy?
- How often do they buy something new?
- What preferences do they have?
- Use a special designation for people who haven’t bought from you in the past 13 months or more
You may need to temporarily pull people off of other work in order to this well. DO IT! Their time and effort on this will build the foundation for bringing in many more dollars in the coming year.
Project 2) Carefully review every single thing you sell for any dollar amount.
Categorize your offerings by:
- Product or service
- Sales price
It is eye opening to categorize offerings in more than one way. If you’re creative and responsive to buyers’ requests throughout the year, you will see that reflected in this exercise. If you are never creative, you’ll see that as well.
Project 3) Ask which of your offerings would be the best match for each individual buyer.
- Review the list of buyers and write an identifying code for each offering you think would be a great match for that buyer in the coming year.
- Write as many codes for each buyer as make sense. If you have a buyer who buys your best offerings, don’t also assign your inexpensive or low value offerings to that person. There are many cross references for each buyer and your offerings. Do this carefully and thoughtfully.
- Now set some sales and profit numbers. I like to see two sets of numbers: 1) by buyer and 2) by offering, before settling on a sales and profit plan for the coming year.
When you have completed these projects you have the foundation for a meaningful business plan for the coming year.
- You will apply your marketing and sales resources specifically to make this plan work.
- Customer service will be staffed based on this plan.
- You will invest in the development of new offerings based on this.
- You will analyze cash flow projections, operating expenses and financing needs based on these projects.
Once you build momentum with your current buyers, you can begin to develop relationships with prospects and work to convert them into buyers.
Over the past 18 years, I’ve offered thousands of innovative and creative ways to grow better and stronger companies. Many clients run with my ideas and enjoy great success. Others say “we don’t do it that way” or “I don’t have time for that” or “it’s not worth it” and find themselves stuck in the same rut, year after year.
Running or staying stuck: these are your choices. The main difference between the ones who run and the ones who stick is their choice.
I hope you will choose to undertake these three projects in December and build the foundation for a great new year.