It all comes down to business development. How are you going to better develop your business next year? Marketing? Sales? Customer Service? Current customer sales?
Now is the time to set your goals. Here are a few ideas to think about when thinking Business Development:
- What percent of your current customers buy from you time and time again? Now can you figure out which specific ones come back and WHY they do?
- How do you help those continue-to-return customers become evangelists for your business so that they help you grow? How do you get them to refer you to new clients on a regular basis?
- How do you get more one-time customers to become repeat purchasers? What's the number or percent you want to get to? What will be your plan to execute?
- What is your true net-promoter score from your clients? (those that are really likely to recommend you) And how are you going to make that better? Which brings us to...
- How is your service differentiating you? Unless you are truly selling a commodity and price is all that matters, your service is part of your differentiation. But, and this is a big but, service doesn't matter to someone who is NOT your customer. So what are your processes, your secret sauce, for keeping your service consistent and great?
- What are you going to do this year to make that process run smoother, faster, better?
- What can you do to innovate your service in a way that will matter to your customers, be visible to your prospects and blow your competition away?
- Who in your company is going to be accountable for this and how are you going to measure their success and compensate them for their effort?
- Are you re-thinking your sales compensation plans? Do your sales people do what you want them to do? Do they close the type of business that is profitable in the long term for your business or are they just taking orders? If sales isn't doing what you want them to do, look at how you pay them. Reward the activity and the level you expect.
- What is your sales process? Is it written down and does everyone follow it? Consistency matters and great salespeople and outstanding sales teams follow a process that builds trust - trust from management in the team, and trust from prospects that you know what you are doing and have done this before. If the process isn't documented, starting the year off here is a great beginning.
- What are your offering levels? Do you have a way for prospects to "try" your service or product out? Do you have a starter offer to sell or an easy way to switch someone from a competitor? What can you do to lower the barrier to entry for a new customer to work with you?
- Do you back this all up with a system that people use? Relationships are more important than ever - having a relationship management system helps the sales team stay consistent and helps management if a sales person leaves.
- Why do you win? Why do you lose? If you don't know, set yourself a goal this upcoming year to find out
- Are your sales people using social media - like LinkedIn - to never make a cold call again? If not, what is the plan to help them get there?
- How are you going to better target and recruit your ideal customer from your pool of prospective ones? Can you write a description of your perfect customer? What they are like; what their hopes and dreams are; how your product or service helps them realize that? Sit down and write an autobiography of your ideal customer - one that will help everyone know who you want to talk to and why they will care what you say.
- How are you going to differentiate yourself from your competition - for once and for good? If you aren't different, you are competing on price. Go back to why. Why did you start your business? Or if you didn't start it, what do you want every customer to say about your company in terms of the value you deliver? Now, make sure you are creating visible, tangible, processes, systems and proof that you do deliver.
- How are you measuring quality, because not all leads are equal? What tactics are you using and which work best? Is it time to try to some new tactics (or retry old ones with a new twist)
- What are you doing to build your email list (with permission of course)? How many names do you want to add this year and what will you do to get them? Then, once you get them, how are you managing the process of staying in contact (see the CRM comment under sales)?
- What are the goals for your website? Why do you even have one in the first place? Make sure you have that clearly defined, and that the content and flow match your goals.
- Finally, a key part of marketing is taking in feedback, so how are you listening to your marketplace? Do you have a way set up to hear the conversation that goes on in social media.
If anything, marketing in the last 7 or 8 years has gotten more technical. How are you and your staff continuing to learn? Things like Google Analytics, Pay-per-click marketing, managing CRM with sales and marketing and customer service. This is more about developing your business foundation, than business development, but it is equally as important. So...
- What 3 new marketing technologies or techniques will you learn this year?
- How will you apply technology to servicing your customers better?
- How will you help your clients learn about technology that will help you and they work better together?
Yes, the list above is overwhelming. To succeed today you have to be smarter, faster and more differentiated then the big box stores and all the other commodity vendors. If your clients aren't happy, another alternative is a few clicks of a search engine away. And if your prospects don't believe you are different, or that you can't deliver to their expectations, they'll vote with their wallet somewhere else.
From all of us at Leading Results, have a happy holiday season and here's to planning to make tomorrow different from today.