While attending the TTI Success Insights Global Conference on Human Potential this past January – Molly Fletcher, one of the keynote speakers, quoted Tom Izzo who said, “You better be better than your problems.” This immediately caught my attention because if you want to be better than your sales and margin problems, it’s imperative that stagnancy isn’t your primary strategy.

Stagnancy Stinks

If your sales are sluggish, it may be because your customer base has gotten a bit stale.

If your gross margin isn’t where you want it to be, it may be because you’ve failed to advance your pricing strategy with you customers.

If you fail to refine your customers and define the relationship, it’s entirely possible that the foul odor you smell is the stagnancy of an approach that lacks awareness.

Universal Truths

While every company’s strategy is unique, there are some universal truths, connected to the life-cycle of businesses that are essential to preventing stagnancy from rooting its way into your company.

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Course of Action

The key to defining strategy and avoiding stagnancy is to be informed and aware of key insights in relationship to the universal truths. This is about defining the time necessary to dedicate the effort and emphasis necessary to analyze, think, plan, execute and measure.

Ask yourself how often you find yourself in action toward an objective without defining and naming the real problem, concern or challenge you’re trying to tackle. At some point action simply for the sake of action is counterproductive. What’s key is getting to the root cause and making sure that the action is directed in a way that advances your business and prevents stagnancy.

This is really about common sense. Establishing a course of action to prevent stagnancy begins with the knowledge that you possess about your business or something that you learn as a result of analyzing information related to your business.

Here are seven action steps connected with the universal truths above:

  1. Consistently and continually review and refine your customer/client base.
    Establish common sense criteria that allow you to know and understand your customer/client at a deeper level. What are their needs? What are their priorities? What are the challenges they’re confronting. Where do they have blind spots that are evident to you?
  2. Adjust pricing regularly and frequently in today’s variable business climate.
    This allows you to stay ahead of the curve rather than behind the curve. Think about how hard it is to catch up on pricing, and margin, when you fall behind what were the required adjustments.
  3. All customers aren’t created equal. Establish awareness within your organization about customer segmentation and what customers represent the top 25%, the middle 50% and the bottom 25%.
    This allows you to engage conversations that are directly related to emphasis and prioritization and define why all customers truly aren’t equal.
  4. Define a level of service that the customer should expect and deliver on that expectation consistently.
    Truly great service is rare and yet every customer deserves great service when they interact with your organization. Experience has shown me that leaders who understand the relationship between universal truths 3 and 4 are leaders who generate greater sales growth, customer loyalty and margin in their business.
  5. Train every salesperson in your company to understand the business of their business and have regular conversations with their customers about key impacts and variables.
    Not only will you see increased margins, you will also witness increased customer trust and connection. No one likes surprises, and no one likes an unaware and uninformed salesperson.
  6. Identify key indicators that are important to your company when considering the impact of your customers.
    Some examples:

    1. Sales dollars
    2. Margin dollars
    3. Number of transactions per customer and cost per transaction
    4. Frequency of transactions
    5. Number or products, services or lines purchased
  7. Define the commitment index of the client/customer on a scale from one to five with five being high and one being low.
    What is the level of mutual respect? How do they respond to normal business variations? When a difficult circumstance or conversation arises, how committed are you to each other?

Thoughtstarter

Invest the time over the next 7 to 10 days to consider how the universal truths and strategic insights apply to you, those you lead, your business unit or your company. If you were to rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being high and 1 being low, where would you rate yourself and your team on advancing against stagnancy?

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.

Brent

P.S. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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