Where should you put your focus in managing your business?

June 27, 2016

You are eager to take a charge on a market? Let’s finish the first things first. Is your line secured? Are your trenches deep and connected? Logistics set and running? Supplies ready? Reserves ready to come out at the right moment? Chain command strong and healthy? Artillery set and supplied? Are you sure? Let`s see…

From time to time, every company reaches the stage where some hard choice has to be made. Many good and bad decisions are happening right there, at that point. Some are focused on the new products, some are focused on sales channels, some of the new leads, and some of the deep analysis focused on the previous results. All these strategies can be fine, but they will not solve the true issues and bring true revenue. Some others could…

Regardless of the current level of your business, the primary focus is always on what you already have!

Products are OK, but business comes first

Products and services represent your business but they change fast, either completely or by being improved. But the core of your business should stay solid and vital for a long period of time.

To stay on track, you need a clear vision where you want to go and how to get there in a short, mid and long terms (one, two and three years).

Business-focused organizations recognize the importance of:

  • clear vision statement and prioritization
  • getting all internal team members on the same page
  • the flexibility of product teams within the portfolio, programs and projects
  • quick implementation of high-end business strategies, procedures, and tools.

The danger here (and in most other cases) is over planning. Just don’t do it. The world and the market are changing fast. Very fast. Faster than ever. Many important changes are happening in months. Too detailed planning can paralyze your ability to be prepared for risks and to react if necessary.

It is important to stay open and be ready to react to upcoming surprises, either these surprises are obstacles or opportunities.

Sales channels – unplug sales pipelines

Sales channels are an often overlooked. Yet, they are very important part of the sales program. If you have been losing orders or market share it may be that you don’t have the right channels that fit specific customer needs, or you don’t have necessary control, efficiency, and ROI measurement for your different sales channels.

And what about the tools to measure, analyze and improve your existing numbers? Devil is in details, and you should be confident about the tools you are using. Do they have the ability to spot this devil and bring it to the light? Did you customize your tools to match your workflow and sales process? Are they able to follow all your deals as they move through your pipeline?

It may sound like a simple concept – the more sales channels you use, the more customers you can reach. But each new channel is a risk for your business:

  • It will need a significant investment
  • It could redirect your leads from existing channels without bringing additional sales.
  • It will distract and add pressure to your organizational structure.
  • It will add expenses to your cash flow with no guarantees for acceptable ROI.

Opening new channel will not necessarily bring better results if it will be run and measured with the same obsolete tools used for measuring the existing ones. Maybe same mistakes will happen again, same valuable information will fall into the gaps, and only the volume of work will go up with no ROI whatsoever.

That is why it is usually recommended to start with a focus on the business itself, together with expert consultants you engage for this process, rather than just invest time and money and do things “the old way”.

By our experience, adding new channels, optimizing workflow, implementing high-end software and CRM tools, can help you to win a completely new level of sales you have today.

Attention! Leads and customers need your attention!

The market is more competitive each day and it seems that we need more and more effort to communicate “the way market expects us to”. Some would even say that there are too many options, or too little time and money to use them with a proper ROI. On the other hand, marketing specialists are telling that you need to be “always available”, “open for communication”, “to go where your customers are”.

They say: You HAVE to be on a Facebook, but also on a Twitter, and on an Instagram, and on a YouTube, and on a Google, and on a Snapchat. You HAVE to have photos, nicely designed posters, smart but funny statuses, high-end production and live videos…

And you are like: Can I just do what I’m supposed to do as a manufacturer or a service provider – to manufacture, to service customers? No? OK. How much?

Yes, it is always nice to have an opportunity to communicate with everybody about your brand and your products, but, only complete sales will bring true revenue for your business, which also means better products and services for your customers (not to your “friends”, “circles” and “followers”).

Instead, at least for a start, you should focus on high-quality leads and customers you already have, people who are currently buying from you and people who entered your sales channel. Give them your attention, your time, your energy and they will pay you back – in money and in gratitude for solving their problems and fulfill their needs.

Focus on what you can do to make your current customers feel like VIPs and to come back for more! And you already have qualified leads (at some level)! You have nurtured them and are ready to take them to the next level!

They are the one who should know first about your new offers, discounts, seasonal packages! They are the one who should be informed, responded to first, rewarded for the trust they gave you! Will they recommend you to a friend? Will they write a testimonial for you? Keep in contact with them and give gentle reminders that you are always there to help. In return, they will do the same for your business.

To gain best results you should focus on your communications:

  • Internally – make sure all organization team members know and understand the working processes. This allows everyone in the company, not just the product team, to understand how products are developed. Make sure all members are ready and able to answer incoming questions from qualified leads and customers.
  • Externally – keep customers in the loop and let them know immediately when a change is coming or when a change has been made. Most important, ease your customers into something new, by clearly communicating the added value for them (not just the value for your business).

Now, what? Now – do!

Once you review and improve – test, measure, understand and act (again and again). Of course, to do this successfully, it is important to get qualitative and quantitative feedback quickly so you can adjust and iterate or shelve the idea altogether. The software will give you quantitative feedback, but only the high-end software can give you qualitative (and did we mention that we have one?).

Then repeat it over again and again:

  • First, you test everything all the way throughout the entire process, every day. Test, test, test. But don’t get too paranoid. Still, test, test, test.
  • Second, you measure all relevant data since things are changing fast and it’s good to keep key data visible and actionable.
  • Third, take the time to understand the information you now have. To do this, you will need experience and deep understanding of the business and your industry. And… It will be extremely helpful to have some professional assistance in the process.

Especially this third point you should keep in mind when implementing new processes or a software, or have new people on the key places. Good software is a powerful tool for exploring and measuring, but powerful tool needs strong, precise and careful guidance. Be sure to have one.

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