Whales are on winter vacation in warm oceans. They are playing, breeding, frolicking and entertaining tourists for a couple of months. But before long, they’ll head back north, and you can hunt them again.
This is the season for looking ahead, for making big plans, for resolving to improve. Have you put whale hunting on your list of resolutions? Try these for greater growth in 2009.
Resolution #1: Say No
Entrepreneurs and harpooners despise saying no. We convince each other that every opportunity could be a big deal “if only.” Or we’ll know it’s not a good deal but it’s prestigious, or it will get us in the door, or we can raise prices later. Quit kidding yourself.
Here’s a strategy. What was your conversion rate least year on deals that you chased? 30%? 45%? Resolve this year to raise that conversion rate by x% by pursuing x% fewer deals, all with higher probabilities of success. Note that this exercise assumes you know your conversion rate. If someone is not maintaining good data on your sales process activities, see Resolution #2 below.
Resolution #2: Keep Score
If you don’t know what you’ve done, there’s no way to improve it. And if you’re not tracking in real time, you can’t account for what you’ve done. If you and all the members of your team know how you are keeping score, collectively and transparently, everyone will focus on completing those activities that yield high marks on the score card.
Resolution #3: Fire 10%
Resolve this New Year’s to replace the bottom 10% of your business. That means you’d have to carefully analyze what is the least fruitful business that you are doing—margins are too low, customers are too difficult, it drains staff time from more productive work, it is not strategic work, you want to move your products or services in a different direction—whatever criteria make sense for you. Once you have a list of work you should discontinue doing, decide when you can quit doing it and empower your team to fire those customers as soon as possible. Then work your whale hunting process to replace that business with new, more suitable deals and customers.
Resolution #4: Power Your Boat
It’s easy to give lip service to the idea of collaboration, to the team sale, to “the boat” of subject matter experts who are required in order to land a truly large sale to a whale. But have you made measurable progress in training your SME’s, involving them deliberately in the sale, retooling your organization to make their time available?
You will never understand the power of your boat, or achieve the extraordinary results that a powerful boat can deliver, until you invest in training, rehearsal, and live practice.
Resolution #5: Confront the Culture
Whale Hunting means change. Business growth demands change. If people in your company resist the changes that you are trying to implement, make 2009 the year that you deal with it. The company or team culture that got you to your current position of readiness to grow to the next level is not the same culture that will get you to the next level. You can retain core values and core belief systems. But behaviors will have to change!
You can change culture deliberately if you are not afraid to try. You need straight talk, good tools, some teaching, some learning, some modeling, some help. But investments in the fast-growth culture will pay off handsomely for your village.
At the dawn of a New Year, I think of the Inuit whale hunters. How did they decide that this spring they would not wait for a whale to beach itself? Instead, they would go out and hunt it? Sounds to me like a resolution.
With all best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and an outstanding new year!