Taking Stock of 2017: Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail, Part III

Submitted on: Mon, 10.23.2017 07:11pm - Annie Eissler |
Taking Stock of 2017: Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail, Part III

What every distributor should be doing right now to prepare for 2018 and close out 2017 on a positive note
Ready to do a better job of year-round performance measuring and get your distributorship set up for success in 2018? Here are five good steps to take right now: 

  1. Don’t let business and sales fluctuations stand in the way of good metrics, analytics, and tracking. Companies should be doing this every day, regardless of whether sales are brisk, slow, or middle of the road. Performance measurement, for example, is the gathering and analysis of data that is then used to continuously improve the work of an organization—not when business ebbs and flows. 
  1. Make “taking stock” a part of your company’s routine. “Too many distributors wind up doing this under pressure, when in reality they should be doing it all the time,” says Brian Friedle, MITS’ VP of Sales. That means continually measuring and benchmarking against goals, objectives, KPIs, accomplishments, and other metrics that are important to your specific company and/or industry. 
  1. Don’t just pull a number out of the air and use it as a goal. Want $5 million in sales? Two hundred customers? One million in profits? “Without any context, those may be too high, too low, or right on the money,” Marcia Layton Turner writes in Forbes’ Want To Achieve Your Goals This Year? Start By Doing This. “You really can’t tell without knowing how you’ve done in the past. However, if you know that sales last year were $4 million and your annual growth rate has been 25%, a sales target of $5 million is well within reason.” The key to successfully charting your course for next year is being able to look back on your accomplishments, Turner continues, to first revel in what you achieved and then set the bar higher for the coming 12 months.  
  1. Look outside of your own business when assessing its current status and setting intentions for the future. Know what outside factors could impact it over the next 6-12 months; evaluate the political, competitive, and even weather-related issues that affect your company; and then develop strategies that take these and other challenges into consideration. “Read articles that examine social and economic trends and predictions, both nationally and locally,” Friedle advises. “This will help you determine how demand for your product or service might change in the next year, either positively or negatively.”  
  1. Pay attention to what your competitors are doing. This is also a great time to dust off the competitor research you did when you launched your business and refresh your awareness of how those firms are performing, how they’re marketing themselves, and whether they have plans to expand. “Armed with this information,” he says, “you can set your business on the path to win.”

On a final note, Friedle says distributors should also discern between the things that they can change immediately, and the shifts that will take more time to implement. “Start pushing now on the items that you’ll be able to make an impact on by the end of the year,” he advises. “Then get to work on the big-picture strategies for 2018 and beyond.”