The fresh air of a new year. Anything is possible and confidence is running high. I’ve always found the New Year to be exhilarating. Days are getting longer, and there’s a “clean sheet” to build upon. There’s also something extremely powerful about the next five months, where holidays are minimal and people are focused.
Unfortunately, by the time we get to May, most organizations and executives will be back to feeling overwhelmed, consumed by the daily news cycle, with worries about the future of the economy or any number of distractions that are outside anyone’s control.
Over the years (I like to think I’ve gotten wiser through the years) I’ve come to learn that while excitement and energy feel really good, the key to advancing one’s agenda is the focus on a limited number of priorities. As our Operations Manager likes to (constantly) remind me, “If everything is important, then nothing is.”
If scaling revenue growth is at the top of your agenda, here are five priorities that need to be on your list:
1. A Focus on Hard Data
I was having a conversation with a prospect who heads up sales and marketing for a $10 million services firm. The focus was on sales enablement services, and when I focused on the topic of data, I was struck by his response. “You know Doug,” he said, “I agree with everything you’re saying, but we’re not that big of a company. We’ve only got six salespeople and a couple of marketers, so I get data matters, but our situation isn’t that complicated.”
Of course, I wouldn’t have been talking with him if everything was flying the way it should. The lead management process had significant leakage, weren’t generating quite the number of opportunities they needed to meet aggressive growth targets and their win rates were average. Don’t get me wrong, the company was growing and was in a strong situation, but they were by no means generating the results they should be from the investments they were making.
A core part of the problem of unlocking their latent growth potential was that the data wasn’t there to isolate the cause of the leakage, nor was a baseline in place that would allow one to create a clear hypothesis for action and to assess the results.
I don’t care if you’re running a million dollar small business or a billion dollar mid-market business - hard data matters. You simply can’t afford to make sales and marketing decisions on gut instinct any longer.
2. Implementing a Defined Sales Operations Process
In five years, growth businesses will look back to 2016-2018 and acknowledge that this was the period where sales operations earned its seat of the strategic growth table. The challenges, opportunities and complexities associated with effective go-to-market strategies are simply too big to be managed without it.
Sales operations focuses on implementing, overseeing and enhancing the underlying processes being used by sales and marketing to ensure that a repeatable, manageable process takes hold.
The sales operations role is focused on the implementation of a defined sales enablement strategy. It results in sellers spending more time selling, enhanced use of data to drive improvements and increases both the velocity and value of sales growth.
3. A Technology Roadmap/Strategy
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: technology will never be the reason your business strategy succeeds, but increasingly it will be a reason that it fails. The time has come to take technology seriously. Stop treating it like a toy or a savior. Be clear on how your organization will use technology - where you’ll apply and where you won’t.
I’ll be writing more frequently about technology on the blog this year. If you’d like to get a jump, you can see our thoughts on the subject in our recent webinar on Sales Enablement Strategies.
4. An Assessment of Their Sales Process
If you haven’t done a comprehensive review of your sales process in the last three years, the time to do it is now. Customers and prospects have changed how they buy, marketing is impacting how sellers sell and other changes have been rapid.
Remember the key to scaling growth is the implementation of a repeatable process, backed by data to highlight areas that need focus. It’s a good bet that your sales process is leaking in areas you are unaware of, and the time to tighten things up is before there’s a problem.
5. Commitment to a Comprehensive Lead Generation & Management Process
Four years ago I talked regularly about the need for growth-oriented businesses to change their thought process and approach to lead generation. The good news is that many of the things I talked about four years ago are de rigueur now.
Not surprisingly, today that approach is no longer enough. Today you need to have comprehensive and holistic plan to support the entire funnel. The failure to do so will increase the costs of growth, reduce opportunities for growth and create even more disruption than exists today.
Take some time this week and look at your key initiatives. Be sure you’re addressing the topics listed here, then bear down, focus and get 2017 off to a strong start.