Top 10 Business Resolutions for 2011

Jan 3, 2011 | General

As is my tradition around New Years, I like to reflect on the past year and think about what’s important in the coming year. Here’s my list of resolutions for the new year (and don’t be surprised if Act! is mentioned in only a few of them.)

1. As I was thinking about this post, I re-read my resolutions from last year. What surprised me is that they are all relevant as we look into 2011. So my first resolution is to revisit that blog and apply any suggestions that make sense.

2. Create a plan. Yes, this sounds boring and basic, but in a business climate as unforgiving as this, can you afford not to have a plan? Rather than being a time-waster, a plan can save you time and save money by giving you a context against which to evaluate the relevance of your actions, not to mention help you stay on target.

3. Double down on what worked in 2010.  Whatever paid off last year is worth investing more resources, time and money in for 2011. Ask yourself what promotions got your client’s attention. What was your top-selling service or product and how can we get your clients to buy more? Act! users, what does your Opportunities Referred By report tell you were your top referral sources in 2010?

4. Experiment with something new. Yes, this may make you anxious and take you outside of your comfort zone, but trying something new may be the best option. And the best new ideas often come from conversations with your clients, suppliers and employees.

5. Fire your D-grade clients. This may seem radical when you feel like every dollar of revenue is important, but high-maintenance, low-margin clients suck time and resources from more profitable clients. Make a list of your clients (Act! users had better already have this in place) and then give each of them a grade. Again, with Act!, ID/Status is a great way to do this (Client-A, Client-B, etc.) For everyone below a C, create a plan to turn them into A’s. By the way, another benefit of this strategy is the discipline of evaluating each client’s potential value to your company and plan a client specific strategy for raising C’s to B’s and B’s to A’s.

6. Get rid of the “Lookie-Loos”. Fill your funnel with prospects that will actually buy from you. Have you been working on prospects that no longer return your calls or e-mails? Remove them from your hot list and put them back into your marketing funnel (Act! drip marketing, do I hear you calling?) Then, only call on prospects where you know: a) the pain you solve for them, b) their budget, and c) who can me the buying decision. Separating “Lookie-Loos” from the real buyers will increase your sales productivity.

7. Leverage your brand. In 2011 it’s more important than ever to avoid becoming a “me too” brand. It’s time to distill your “secret sauce”–what you bring to your clients that others don’t. Next let’s go back to resolution #5 and figure out the profile of our ideal client. (You are tracking those characteristics in Act!, aren’t you?) Combine your secret sauce with your target client profile and you are ready to gear your marketing to that niche.

8. Expand your marketing. Insanity is . . . you know, doing the same thing and expecting different results. Keep in mind that marketing today includes traditional media and social media. Don’t be timid, try a new marketing approach, especially if it makes you stretch. Keep yourself on the growing edge and keep refining your marketing as you find things that work.

9. Expand your network. Even if you’ve embraced LinkedIn and Facebook, face-to-face is still important to close new business and get referrals. Back to Act! again, take a look at who referred clients to you last year; what clients have relationships with the same vendors? . . . a single coffee or lunch with a “center of influence” or vendor could lead to many new clients. Need some inspiration? Check out John Jantsch’s best selling book The Referral Engine and learn how to turn on the referral faucet.

10. Shift your brain. For resolutions to occur, everything must start with an internal shift of your mindset. Resolve that the glass is once again half full and keep your mind free of self doubt, worry or fear.

Let me know what you think of these ideas as well as other resolutions on your own list for 2011.