It’s the time of year when we all get showered with recommendations for New Year Resolutions, and as if you haven’t already got enough to be thinking about, I’d like to throw three simple suggestions into the mix.
I can’t guarantee that they will make you fitter, slimmer or better looking, or that they will result in any greater spiritual satisfaction. In fact adopting them will almost certainly do nothing for any of those very notable goals.
But there’s a chance that they might help you drive more revenue in the New Year - and if that idea doesn’t contribute in its' own small way to global happiness and peace on Earth, then I’m probably in the wrong business, or you’ve subscribed to the wrong blog mailing list.
With festive greetings and Goodwill to all men and women, here are my three nominations for revenue-driving New Year resolutions...
1. Clean Up Your Data
Start the New Year by cleaning up your data. Almost every sales and marketing organisation I meet has data quality issues - many of them unrecognised (or underestimated). Without great data, much of your marketing effort will be misdirected. You’ll be reaching the wrong people with irrelevant messages - and failing to reach the right ones.
The amount of waste associated with bad data is often striking - and generally avoidable. High quality data is the critical foundation for any targeted marketing effort - whether inbound or outbound. Start by reviewing your data quality standards - and if you don’t have any, establish and publish them to all as a matter of urgency.
Identify the data that you need to support your decision making. What information do you need about customers and prospects, and about the key stakeholders within them? How would you use the information? How accurate are your records? How complete is the data for every record? When was the last time it was checked or updated?
Once you’ve completed your data audit, set out an improvement plan. Define key metrics for completeness and accuracy, and review them at an executive level on at least a monthly basis. Identify a named champion and make them responsible for data quality - but make it clear that everybody needs to contribute.
2. Requalify Every Opportunity
The New Year is a great time to take a fresh look at your sales pipelines. I recommend that you systematically re-qualify every single sales opportunity. Take the time to ask: Is this opportunity real? Has the prospect got a clear motivation to act? Can we compete effectively? Can we win, and will the effort required be worth it?
You’ll also want to understand where each prospect is in their decision-making process, and here you would be unwise to depend on the hopes of your sales people. Insist on evidence of buyer activity and of their desire to move forward to the next stage of their decision-making process with you. Don’t let your sales people confuse sales activity with evidence of buyer intent.
Pay particular attention to opportunities that haven’t moved forward for a while. Where’s the evidence that the opportunity is still alive, and that the prospect is still motivated to find a solution to a problem they consider worth dealing with? What would happen if the prospect simply decided to do nothing? Who would be affected? How would it impact their objectives?
The goal here is to ensure that all your opportunities are still real. Some - perhaps many - of them won’t be. You’re better off finding that out now, and redirecting your sales resources accordingly, than discovering the fact after a lot more wasted energy has been expended.
3. Review Your Reward System
It’s often said that compensation drives behaviour. Most behaviourists would probably (and rightly) insist that there’s more to it than that, but there’s little doubt that compensation and reward schemes that are inconsistent with the company’s declared initiatives and objectives at best cause confusion and all too often perpetuate the wrong priorities.
You may think that you’re well served by your current scheme, but I’d urge you to consider whether you could be doing better. I frequently come across schemes that promote activity at the expense of intelligent outcomes. A common one is rewarding marketers for the number of leads generated rather than on the impact of their actions on revenue.
I recommend - and now is usually the best time to do this - to carefully review all of your compensation and reward schemes. Can you establish a clear link between your key goals and initiatives for 2011 and the incentives you are providing? Are your employees incented to act in the way that generates the greatest value for the company? And do the schemes help them to make intelligent day-to-day decisions?
The Extra Hour in the Gym is Down to You
So there we have it. 3 simple but effective resolutions: Clean up your data, re-qualify every opportunity, and review your reward systems. And no mention of spending an extra hour in the gym. Whether you choose to adopt these resolutions or not, here’s wishing you, your family and friends a Very Merry Christmas and a Truly Prosperous and Happy New Year.