We’re always encouraged to look forward, to plan for the future. I remember trying to get an interview for a job a long time ago. ‘Do you want a copy of my CV? I asked. ‘No,’ said the guy, I’m more interested in what you’re planning to do, not what you’ve done.’

I admit it’s unusual for a recruiter to say that, and I should temper his comment by saying that it turns out he was head of a multi-level marketing company, but my point is that people take the approach that since you can’t change the past should focus on doing something about the future. Past performance is not a guide to future performance, the financial ads are fond of telling us.

The past can inform, however. That’s why we learn the importance of the rear view mirror when we start driving. Nowhere is this more important than in monthly or quarterly demand generation plans, or in fact any kind of plan. It’s all too tempting to sweep the last indifferent plan under the rug and start again with a fresh- forward-looking plan. If you do that every period, you’re not accountable, because you’re not learning or improving with experience. You have no reference point and you’re simply presenting yourself as a moving target for people whose aim will eventually catch up with you.

So before you build your next demand generation plan, measure and analyse what worked the last time, and what the conversion rates were at each stage, so that you can plan the next period with some knowledge. You should then be able to improve your targeting and forecasting with each subsequent period, having done the closed loop thing on the previous period.

Practice makes permanent if you never look back, but it makes perfect if you look back and learn.

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