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.