Archives for posts with tag: Review

Completing the circle of a process is so important, otherwise you can’t restart the process from the right palace. This is especially true in business, sales, marketing, in fact pretty much anything involving a project or initiative.

The way to do this is to ask ourselves: how did we do? What was the actual result of the activity, against the target or goals we set for it? Too often we finish a project, a month or a quarter and then we launch into the next one, always looking ahead. But if we don’t look back and review how we did, and take on some learnings, then we don’t improve.

One area I find frustrating is in the area of weather forecasting. They’re in the business of scientific predictions. They’re always looking ahead. I’m sure they review their actual performance internally, but it’s oh so rare to hear the weather industry publicly review its performance against forecast, for the benefit of its consumers.

You could argue that economics is another one, but actually economics shouldn’t be about predicting. The role of economics is to explain what happened. They can’t accurately predict what will happen, or else we’d all be worth a fortune.

No, economics is about ‘what did we do?’ For many other walks of life and work, though, it should be ‘how did we do?’

Advertisements

Well, we executed the plan. We completed the sixth step of the B2B product launch process.

Now it’s time to see how we did. The seventh B2B product launch process step is to manage the outcomes of the project.

It’s important to manage the outcomes and compare them with the requirements and targets we set earlier in the process. One of the common mistakes is to move onto the next shiny toy and not review performance, so that you learn from your mistakes, celebrate the high points and be better the next time.

In managing those outcomes, it’s important to be fluid. In some areas you’ll have satisfied your requirements, and in some areas you won’t. If you nailed every target, then you probably weren’t ambitious enough.

A fluid approach helps you understand the poorer areas of performance. Did you fail to accurately capture your customer’s needs, or did you interpret their feedback wrongly? Which areas of the business did not deliver to target? What are the lessons learned?

A ‘lessons learned’ meeting, which should be a collaborative rather than a finger-pointing or scapegoat-finding exercise, is a great way to close out the project and feed the lessons – requirements, scheduling, resourcing, delivery – into the next project and across the business.

OK, you’ve completed all but 2 of your 15 B2B marketing steps to success. You’ve started executing your B2B marketing project or plan, so you’re pretty much there, right?

Wrong!

You need to test early and test often. Review the activities as you execute them and where possible measure as soon as you can. When a reasonable time has elapsed for each activity to flow through your business, measure the return on the activity and enter the actual results in the last few columns of your activity plan, so that you can see how you stack up against your target results. Then, over time, you can fine-tune your future targets with the benefit of hindsight and increasing experience.

Beware – not many companies close the loop. They do a plan for a project or period, execute, maybe measure the results, but they don’t then learn from the misses and incorporate the learnings into the next plan. Make sure you’re not one of the companies that misses, repeatedly.

Review, measure, learn, adjust and execute again. Until you’re done executing.

So far in this series, we’ve covered six of the seven selling stages that are joined at the hip to your customers’ seven buying stages in the B2B buying process. These six are:

–  targeting your addressable market

– defining the sales opportunity

– understanding your prospective customer’s objectives,

– demonstrating why you’re the best option

– zeroing in on the deal, and

delivering the order and the solution

The Seventh Selling Stage. Ah, halcyon days! This is typically – if the implementation’s gone to plan – the honeymoon period that follows the consummation of the deal, but it’s not the time for you to rest on your laurels. Is there ever such a time in sales?

In the Seventh Buying Stage, which can potentially last the duration of your initial contract, your customer is engaged in the ongoing operation of their business, evaluating – among other things of course – the performance of your product or service against plan and moving towards the time when they have to make another business decision: do they renew with you or do they move their funds to an alternative solution or project that bumps yours?

Correspondingly, you should not be idle either. You should be reviewing the performance of your product or service as well, especially if your product or service involves your customer’s staff changing the way they work. People are notoriously and naturally resistant to change, so the key to any B2B project’s success is whether the benefits of the new product or service are sustained over time.

Be sure to schedule regular review milestones with your customer to make sure things are going to plan and to course correct if they’re not. At one of these early milestones, if things are indeed going to plan, you should also be asking your customer for referrals, other people they could recommend that would benefit from your offering. If you could build your business simply from referrals, you would never need to prospect again.

As with the seventh buying stage, the seventh selling stage is very similar to the first selling stage and in fact completes the cycle. You are actively reviewing your addressable market for other sources of new business. As well as new business, you also have your recently satisfied customer to think about. This gets us into a whole new and crucial realm of sales, the realm of account management. Often treated as a different role or skill-set within a business – but not necessarily so – account management is where you build the trust with your customer, strategise together on how best to develop their business, win new pieces of work from them and start to widen your influence within their organisation.