Catherine Taylor is the vice president at RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy
It's not too soon to start thinking about how you're going to make 2017 a success for your company. Here are four areas that are essential to the sales and marketing performance of your business.
1. Competitive Scan: It can feel time-consuming to stay abreast of the moves your competitors are making. After all, you have your own business to run. However, becoming too disconnected from the competition's price points, expansions or product launches, personnel changes and customer feedback can create blind spots for your company.
Use your knowledge of competitors' changes, even the smallest shifts in direction, to outmaneuver them with your own business strategies.
2. Processes: Does it seem like you're always "this close" to the breakthrough you've been working toward, yet where you actually land falls short? This is common among many businesses and it's an indicator that a flaw exists in a key process. Find it. Fix it.
How? Talk to your key people -- your most loyal customers and your front-line employees -- to uncover the specific block. Has internal communication broken down? Is service delivery taking too long and causing repeat customers to shop around? Are there quality issues that are causing too many do-overs, delays or refunds? If you listen to those closest to the issues, you'll find the flaw.
3. Analytics: Measurement and reporting are a decision-maker's best friend. Hopefully, you're not doing scattershot exploration, but instead, you have an iterative method for the review of key data indicators.
Analytics can be set up for almost anything inside your business, but there a few key areas to focus on if you need to get in the habit: peaks and valleys in revenue, marketing lead-generation results, the time it takes to convert a prospect to a customer and weekly sales outcomes toward the overall annual goal.
From an employee perspective, each individual needs to know his or her metric and achieve it. Depending on your business, individual metrics could be four prospect meetings per day, two demos per day, one media campaign per month and so on. Clarity and accountability are essential.
4. Training: Whether it's soft-skill or technical training, taking some time to ask your employees to further perfect their work -- and giving them the tools to do it -- is time well spent. Often, the need for training goes hand in hand with fixing process flaws and changing undesirable trends in your analytics.
You can anticipate a return on your training investment in the form of smoother operations, more delighted customers, employee retention and heightened interest in working for your company among the marketplace talent pool.
There's still plenty of time left this year to examine these areas and create changes that lead to better outcomes in 2017. Happy planning!
Catherine (Kitty) Taylor can be reached at www.redrovercompany.com.