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Launch 2011 part two: Focus

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A few days ago we talked Appreciation as the first step in launching 2011, that we need to thank all of our 2010 customers voice to voice. Rainmakers, clearly one of Indianapolis' most popular and powerful networking groups, stresses personal connection through their 70 meetings a month. At the same time, we were to make notes of exactly what offering was purchased by each customer and how the customer was acquired so we could move to Focus.

Focus is knowing where your future will come from in terms of both customers and offering. It was disappointing to me while working the Indiana Small Business Expo last month for The Neighborhood Source that so many of the people walking past our booth could not answer the question, "Where in Indianapolis do most of your customers come from?" We may not be the largest city in the Midwest, but from Franklin to Westfield is a solid hour drive, and from Greenfield to Plainfield a good 45 minutes. What happens on one side of town is not necessarily the same as across town.

Most offerings and markets change over time and we need to be vigilant to recognize trends as they are moving instead of after they have passed. As I spoke to several Indianapolis business owners such as Kim Brand at FileSafeServer and John Wiley at Dream Street Graphics during the past few weeks, I thought that the late fall made it seem like our year had much further to go when in fact, December was here. Regardless, it is now time to start launching your 2011 by analyzing your 2010 wins and losses.

We need to know:

  • What were your growth areas in 2010?
  • What offerings were less popular in 2010?
  • What did not sell at all?
  • What was requested at a rate that you could not deliver?
  • What caused you the most rework?
  • What characteristics of the buyers made them different from non-buyers?
  • Which industries or segments were they in?
  • What part of the business took more time and effort to acquire making it less or not at all profitable?
  • What will be happening in your customer’s businesses or lives that will impact—positively or negatively—their 2011 purchasing?
  • Will they be impacted by Super Bowl 2012? What if the football lockout happens and we may not have a Super Bowl?

We need to understand all of these questions to know how to grow in 2011.

Along with types of business, focus involves knowing how we found our customers. Here we want to look for trends and blocks of business from one source.

  • Was one advertising campaign more successful?
  • Was one business or networking group more beneficial?
  • Which person or persons gave you the most referrals?

2010 is now history but we can find the trends and movements and be positioned to leverage the growth areas in 2011 as we walk away from those prospects, customers, and offerings that are costing us time and energy.

It is much easier and much more realistic to project a growing 2011 if you base it on what we know instead of what we guess. While we are at it, don’t forget the value of a good CRM because the ability to track this every day will allow us to react faster, sell more, and pocket substantially more profit. Knowledge is power only when implemented. Part 2 is knowledge, and Part 3: Risk will be implementation.

Jeff Bowe is Principal and Chief Sales Strategist for ACTUM Group, a sales consultancy providing outsourced sales management to business owners and sales teams that need training, tactics, strategies, and processes for success...and who need to like each other again.

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