Thursday, November 8, 2012

What's Driving Your Revenue in 2013?

Revenue growth, more than any other metric, is the key driver of long term company performance. If you agree that statement then you've likely initiated the arduous task of deciding which key initiatives will drive your 2013 revenue expectations.

We all know the drill, it's time consuming, complicated, and many times contentious. Teams are digging into the numbers, rationalizing departmental contributions, allocating budgets, trying to determine how to get the most out of the limited resources.

In the current business climate, good planning not only requires an honest assessment of the gaps between stated goals, and actual results, but consensus about how you'll fill those gaps moving forward. The goal is to prioritize, agree to and translate the strategy into the critical activities that will deliver future revenue goals.

A starting point, based on more experience with this ritual than I care to admit, are outlined below which can help you get more clarity around the key questions early in the process. These should be open dialogs, (no slide decks) with someone facilitating and recording the discussion, outcomes and a written review of what was discussed. Position this in a way that minimizes departmental politics and finger pointing, yet considers real alternatives or refinements to what currently exists.

The goal is to get as much of the pertinent information, on the table, so everyone has the same picture as to where you are, and what actions are needed for future success. One would think this is a natural and common discussion that takes place every year. But I can assure you these discussions do not happen as often as they should, and they can be helpful and serve as a valuable reference point as you get deeper into your planning.

What factors have been successful in driving and/or inhibiting revenue growth?

What is working and what is not?
What should we do more of and what should we do less of?
What's different with regard to 2013 drivers from last year?
What do we collectively believe the associated amount of, and time to, revenue impact for each of these changes?
How can we improve how we monitor our progress in an open, direct and more measurable way?
How to better align sales and marketing to ensure your pipeline will deliver?

How can we refine and align our sales process to the customers buying process and make sure everyone is on the same page regarding, key deliverables, time-frames, roles, responsibilities and group and individual accountability?
What assumptions have we made, and have we done an adequate job of objectively testing those assumptions to ensure they'll work when they meet the realities of the market?
Collectively review all your current pipeline stages for consistency of definition, time-frames, and expected results with all key marketing/sales stakeholders.
Distinguish between leading and lagging indicators, how and when the team will monitor these metrics, and agree which are most significant relating to next year's revenue goals, with more focus on the leading indicators.
I hope you'll find these suggestions helpful as you plan next years revenue strategies.