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Repeating Success? Define it. Measure it. Document it.

By Talmar Anderson
Originally published November 2013

You know that feeling? You closed them!  You made the deal.  Money is flowing in and it feels good!  You feel like the hunter on a high. What do we do then?  Celebrate, of course.  Atta boys for all the staff.  Maybe a nice dinner for you and yours.  Then we get down to the work of delivering on the deal and looking for the next big whale.  Or at least the next sale.  However, it doesn’t happen as fast.  Why is it so hard to find success again when you were just able to do it so perfectly? It is because we missed the step of really looking at what success is to your company.

Now let’s go back to that sale.  Why is it a success?  The ideal target client was found?  The dollar amount of the deal? The service or product that was sold? Maybe it was the potential for the lifetime sales of this particular customer?  When we have success, let us take a moment and understand how this moves the company and the mission forward.  I know it sounds like a big idea for the sale of one widget but the success cannot just be about cash in your bank account.  Did you connect with the kind of client that is the new target market you have been trying to break into?  Did this client buy more than the historical average of most of transactions? Did the client contract for a longer engagement than previous clients?  Within each business, there need to be several ways to understand your sales beyond the dollar amount.  Take the time to decide how your sales are categorized and the types of transactions that build profitability.  Understand who is buying. REALLY understand why they are buying now. Once we have taken the time to define what sales have been happening and where our successes are coming from, we can move to how we will measure success.

As an example, let’s say we have decided that within the last 12 months our most profitable sales have come from working with graphic design firms.  Further investigation finds that the best deals came to fruition when the firms are going through high turnover.  Not just the turnover of current staff but also the high and immediate need for growth within their own companies. So let’s measure.  We find that 60% of our sales over the last 12 months were from this market. Now we can take the time to forecast and set a goal for success.  How would profitability be affected if we could land 3 more clients in this market next quarter? Use reasonable but ambitious numbers.  Always be striving to succeed.

Now we can document this all.  By writing down what has worked in the past and what our new goals for measurement are for the quarter, it will be that much easier to see where we are missing the mark.  If we are not repeating our successes, did we veer away from graphic design firms into full service marketing companies? Did we land 5 new graphic design clients and just miss acknowledging it because the gross sales for the firm missed our goals?  Written processes and goals give us a specific path and reality checks. We want to ensure the company is progressing on the course with our strategic plans and marketing efforts.

Success is fleeting because we do not take the time to understand what success is for our company and how we are going to acknowledge that we have succeeded.  Yes, it is goal setting but it is more of an eye to allowing for progress.  So we write the goals down.  We want to reach these goals to be able to have the backward look.  With the backward look we can continue to refine and redefine successes to keep the business growing.

Money in the Bank Account does NOT mean your Company is Profitable

By Talmar Anderson

Originally posted August 24, 2012

As part of my conversation when speaking with very smart, successful business owners, I usually ask if they are profitable.  “Absolutely” is the answer.

Great!  Really glad to hear it.

How do you know? “Well ,I’ve paid all my bills and there is still money in the bank.”

Sooooo…that is good BUT that is not necessarily profitable. The next question I ask, once I get that “What chu talkin’ about Willis” look is how they measure the time to produce their deliverables.  Which usually leads to the question of whether they are counting the time to land the client?  Which leads to the time to generate a lead…..and well, you probably see where this is going.

Money in the bank is good but if we are able to measure that a deliverable you are charging at a rate of 3 billable hours actually takes 12 hours in total, what does that do to your profitability? Significantly affects it, correct?  The knowledge that comes with measuring your true turnaround empowers you to make informed decisions on scheduling (helping with time management), give realistic delivery times (Helping with customer satisfaction) and often times justifies higher rates (builds profitability).  So how profitable are you, really?