Astute Planning, Flawless Execution,
Delighted Customers

Issue #135

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Are you tired of the doom and gloom that is being thrust upon us on a minute-by-minute basis from the media?

Even during the Great Depression, some of the most successful industries got their start (e.g., motion pictures) and companies survived and thrived (e.g., Proctor and Gamble). Did they do this by slashing their marketing and service budgets, keys to growth and customer retention? NO! They got aggressive and took market share away from those companies that pulled back (in the eyes of the market and customer).

It is my belief that you get what you focus on. Focus on doom and gloom, and you get more of it. While individually we cannot control the global economy, what we CAN control is our attitude and what we do on a daily basis to bolster the foundation of our companies and personal lives. It is in this spirit that we embark on a series of articles focused on thriving while others are hunkering down.

In the words of Warren Buffett "Be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy only when others are fearful." It is time to be greedy, by going after the opportunities others are leaving behind.

We hope that you enjoy this series' first article, by Brent Larlee.

If you'd like to ensure that you maintain a high-level of market presence and customer loyalty, give us a call. We'd be happy to discuss our highly pragmatic programs that result in improving top-line growth, your customers' experience and the operational performance of your firm.

2009 - Planning For Success
Part 1 of 2
by Brent Larlee, WaiHaka Strategies LLC

I have to admit that I'm a glass-is-half-full optimist. In fact, I have been accused of looking at a half-full-glass situation and arguing that it was closer to a three-quarter-full glass situation. So, it is with that back drop as a dues paying member of Optimists Anonymous that I have been troubled so much with all of the economic trouble that has been in the news recently. It is not that I have my head in the ground and can't see that there are major issues with the US economy and the global economy, but my view is to focus more on the opportunity than the problem. Unfortunately, it has been tough to focus on anything but the problems with the news coverage, but I also know that with problems come opportunity.

As businesses look at their 2009 planning process, the major question is where the opportunity will come from with respect to revenue growth, profits, sustainability, and survivability. This is not the time for anyone to put blinders on, but rather the time to take an objective assessment of your market, the products and services you offer, and competitive alternatives available to your prospects. Then use all of this information to align your resources (people, products, processes, and investments) to make certain that you deliver value to your clients.

If you were losing market share during 2008 because your products and services were inferior or were overtaken by new innovations or product offerings, then 2009 will be a very miserable year for you. Businesses will need to operate, but they will scrutinize purchases with a different lens do I need this product / service to operate, and if I buy this product / service will it help me make / save money? Taking out of the equation the quality and selection of your products and services, the real question becomes whether or not you have an effective marketing, sales and support model. Looking at all of the ways your business interacts with the customer, especially with respect to Sales Effectiveness, will impact your success in 2009.

For this reason, you should take an objective assessment of your Sales Effectiveness using these stages and components.

Business Strategy: The first thing to review is the business plan and strategy for the company. Managers of component parts of a business often fail to take into account the overall business strategy and how it might impact their individual department or area of the business. Perhaps you are in a position to impact, or change, the business strategy; otherwise you should simply worry about understanding the strategy so you can set up your 2009 plan in the context of the overall business strategy. Some of the questions you should be asking include:

  • What are the big picture objectives for the business?

  • Are there new vertical markets, products, or initiatives that will be rolled out in the next 12-24 months?

  • What types of operational or structural changes are being made, and do these impact my area?

  • How might my department better support the overall business strategy for 2009?

Analyze 2008 Results & Project 2009/2010 Desired Results: After you have an understanding of the overall business strategy and how it will provide a framework for getting to the destination, the next step is to define the destination where are you going? This really involves two pieces of a puzzle: first, where did you come from (or the results from 2008), and next, where are you going (or the desired results for 2009 and perhaps into 2010). Your results from 2008 are critical to understand how and why you achieved the results last year, and this understanding will guide you to craft a plan to achieve the desired results for 2009. Some of the analysis you should perform on your 2008 results include:

  • What were the results on an annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly, or daily basis? For the time periods that are relevant to your business, get an understanding of how the results varied over time. Pay particular attention to any seasonal factors in how people buy.

  • What were the results on a regional or territorial basis? Understand how different geographic factors and competitors impact the results. Also, get a sense of which managers and individuals are your best performers.

  • What were the results by vertical market or industry? Determine if certain types of companies purchased more of your products.

  • What are the results by account? If there is an 80/20 rule at play in your business, then determine the 20% clients that are your best (measured by volume of purchases) customers.

  • What are the results by product / service line? Get an understanding of which products and services are purchased most often by your clients.

  • What is the average purchase or deal size? Depending on how purchases are made, you might want to look at annual purchases versus initial purchase, and it might be more relevant to look at median size if you have some significant deals that throw off the average.

  • What are the average close rates and length of your sales cycle? In addition to simply looking at the end results, you probably also want to review the results based on conversion percentages marketing campaign pieces to leads, lead to qualified prospect, qualified prospect to proposal, etc.

All of these questions should also be evaluated against each other in matrix form. For example, if you can analyze the difference in results for products by region, or territorial performance based by time period, or conversion rates by manager, or any of the other combinations of different variables, then you have a much better handle on the meaning of the results.

Once you know where you have come from (2008 results), you can develop a road map to your destination (2009 desired results). Simply assigning a budget or quota number to a manager or individual will not help them understand how to get there. Most sales executives and sales reps drink their own "Kool-aid" and they will not take a critical look at how past results will impact future performance, and then you are dealing with a mentality of wishful thinking or the belief that simply working harder will yield better results.

Stay tuned for the second part of this article where we discuss a few more concepts, including aligning your organization - people, processes, strategies to best achieve your desired results for 2009.



+ Introduction - End the Doom and Gloom

+ 2009 - Planning for Success

+ Recommended Reading



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Recommended Reading
We recommend Entrepreneur Magazine article Go Big or Go Home by By Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad Poor Dad and other books. Mr. Kiyosaki stresses that in a poor economy, marketing is that much more important, as it will differentiate the winners from the losers.

More Satisfied Customers
Check out what some recent customers had to say about their experiences with Customer Centricity:

"Our organization needed to move from a process-centric to a customer-centric focus. We engaged Craig Bailey and Customer Centricity to assist us in moving in the right direction while simultaneously controlling costs and preserving resources. Phase I of the project was an organization assessment and implementation plan. We are very pleased with the outcome of Phase I and feel that the results were well worth the investment.

Much of the success of this project is due to Craig's skill and approach. The
fact that the staff responded so enthusiastically is a testament to his ability to make them feel comfortable, ask them the right questions and to express the intention of improvement rather than criticism.

The true proof of our satisfaction with Craig's services is that we will be engaging him to oversee our Phase II implementation project. I'm looking forward to our next steps and to moving forward to customer centricity!"

Kristy Wright
VNA, Western Pennsylvania

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In short, we align the resources of your organization to exceed your customers' expectations in the most effective and efficient manner possible.

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