It takes more than a good idea to fuel a successful business endeavour. You need time, money, energy, manpower—but most of all, you need a plan that harnesses all of these components and ensures optimum use and distribution. Without a plan, you could easily max out time and money before you get proper manpower in place. Whether you're launching a brand new start up or expanding an existing enterprise, having a five-year goal in place will help keep your growth on track.
Follow these 10 tips to realize your business vision.
1. Identify your vision. Before formulating a plan, take a moment to envision the shape of your business in five years. How do you quantify its success? Consider not just financial wealth but also the size and structure of your company and recognition within the industry. Do you have the resources necessary to fulfill your ambition within a short timespan? Focus on the details of your vision to form realistic objectives and short-term goals.
2. Define your company's objectives. With a goal set, think in specifics about what your company will achieve and how those achievements will be measured. Objectives will reveal whether your company is on track to the ultimate goal and fulfill shareholder expectations. From the successes (and failures) of your objectives, you can gauge where to make adjustments and how to proceed forward. Objectives should be short-term with a set criteria that is attainable and relevant to your business.
3. Think big, work small. Once you've identified the long-term goals and short-term objectives, it's time to focus on the immediate. Put plans into action by breaking your objectives down further into smaller tasks with quicker turnaround. Here is where you tackle the meetings and phone calls that build client lists and networks.
4. Be (more than) your own boss. Building a business from scratch demands a great deal of time and sacrifice. Even the most successful CEOs have to make compromises in both their professional and personal lives. Consider your own personal risks and compromises. How much of your own time and money are you investing? Do you have full support of your family? Could your business venture potentially jeopardize your home life? Can the company survive without you should a personal emergency arise?
5. Manage expectations. Some objectives may not be met. Deadlines will be missed. A dramatic shift in market demand could set your business back several months (or years). Brace yourself for early disappointments, especially if this is your first entrepreneurial endeavour. Scale back or extend timetables of objectives if performance seems lacking.
6. Understand the costs of doing business. If one of your objectives is to pursue higher profit margins, keep your fiscal performance in check with regular assessments of your business expenditures. Know what it realistically costs to run your company while keeping your employees and shareholders happy. It may be necessary to sacrifice one objective in order to meet your fiscal target. Keep in mind that sacrifices may inconvenience or adversely impact employees even if it buoys your bottom line.
7. Be flexible. As your business grows, you may notice an increase in demands of your time and resources. New opportunities or market fluctuations may dictate an adjustment in short-term objectives. Keep your company's goals fluid enough to accommodate new ideas or improvements on existing objectives.
8. Compete, don't compare. When entering any marketplace it's crucial to know your competition, to be familiar with their strengths and weaknesses in order to seize opportunities within the industry. But when it comes to the internal operations, every company is different. Each firm has its own objectives and works at its own pace. Do not compare your company's objectives to those of your rivals.
9. Forget the middle. Focus on the short-term goals. Concentrate on the acheivements you can make six months from now, not the goals you want to accomplish two years from now. New ideas are often the most exciting ideas, but if they aren't part of the current plan, they can prove to be unnecessary distraction from more time-sensitive tasks. If you have an idea for a mid-term objective, make note of it for future pursuits.
10. Make a commitment. If your business is your passion, commit to the journey and prepare to weather the highs and lows of running a successful business. Surround yourself with a dedicated and determined team to help realize the full potential of your enterprise. Be prepared to stick with your business for the long haul—your commitment may prove inspirational to staff and clients alike. When you reach your initial goals, you may find yourself planning for the next five years.
If your go-to-market strategy relies on indirect sales channels, it's imperative to keep your channel partners engaged in driving sales and increasing revenue. Maximize your GTM strategy's effectiveness by understanding external markets and prospects. Channel partners often have direct experience and can provide valuable buyer insight that can enhance your GTM strategy. When partners are invested in a product and its brand, the motivation to implement strategies is stronger, providing greater accuracy for monitoring success.
Partner engagement can be divided into three categories:
Information—Provide your partners with the knowledge of your product and equip them with the tools necessary to generate sales.
Incentives—Offer benefits to stimulate sales growth.
Involvement—Embrace channel partners as an extended branch of your sales team and encourage participation in corporate events.
Are your channel partners actively engaged in implementing your current go-to-market strategy? How much input do your channel partners have in your GTM strategy?
Here are 10 techniques designed to boost sales partner engagement.
1. Sales tools. How are your partners promoting your product to buyers? Do your channel partners have a compatible sales strategy in place? Vendors often possess the resources and expertise that new channel partners needs to drive buyer engagement. If you want your partners to move your products, furnish them with the same sales enablement tools you provide for in-house sales reps.
Sales materials may include:
•Free trials of product
•Dynamic report generators
2. Ongoing training. It's important to illustrate how implementing existing go-to-market strategies can result in success, so take the time to train your partners not only about what they're selling but also how to sell it. Present recent successful campaigns and the trajectory of your current sales strategy.
3. Joint marketing campaigns. The best way to ensure quality and consistency in brand messaging is to collaborate with partners. Partners' independent marketing materials may reveal opportunities to adopt their tactics. If your partners have multiple vendor agreements, be aware of how they promote your products alongside your competitors.
Allow partners to customize marketing programs to fill the needs of their niche or territory. Find messaging that reflects the individual partner's brand and highlights their unique value without diluting your own brand. Co-branded marketing can reduce those costs and boost profits for both businesses.
Your endorsement matters—to your partners and buyers. Co-branding provides legitimacy to your partner, builds trust, and demonstrates to your buyers that your partners are reputable sources. Ensure call-to-action in co-branded communications are directing leads to your partners.
4. Exclusivity agreements. Push your product to the forefront by offering exclusivity agreements. Give your partners exclusive rights to sell your product in their geographic location or give them limited time exclusivity on offering a new product or service.
5. Pre-sales incentives. Partners need motivation to sell your product. Beyond the promises of sales margins and commissions, consider brand-centric incentives like product discounts and rebates. Boost sales potential by setting up a brand-wide promotional program designed to drive buyers to partner sites. You will be able to track buyer interest in target markets, but it's up to the partner to turn those leads into sales. Consider bonus revenue sharing if partners exceed their sales quota.
6. Post-sales rewards. Financial motivation gets the sales but emotional motivation is proven to be as effective in boosting overall results. Non-cash rewards are a more personalized way of demonstrating the value of individual partners—and an easy way to ramp up competition amongst sales partners. These kinds of rewards can include gift cards for merchandise, health and wellness packages, and travel vouchers.
7. Recognition. High-performing partners deserve public acknowledgement for achievements. Publish a success story spotlight in your monthly newsletter as a way to praise power sellers. This feature will make a memorable impression on recipients and their influencers (family, friends, etc.) and motivate other partners to increase their sales efforts.
8. Share analytics. Giving sales partners access to your website analytics supplies them with data about their prospects. Some shared analytics programs deliver information in real time, allowing partners to see when prospective buyers in their market visit the vendor website so they can act on buyer interest while your product is still top-of-mind.
9. Partner surveys. Invite participation from active partners to provide feedback on product performance, buyer insight, and opportunities for improvement. Surveys may reveal shifts in the market or buyer behaviour that will need to be addressed in future go-to-market strategies.
10. Private events for Partners. Host quarterly or annual conferences for channel partners to foster engagement in your company's culture. In-person events encourage partners to network and give them a chance to interact with your company in a less formal atmosphere. Conferences and galas can be used to present non-cash rewards and awards of recognition, further promoting vendor investment in partners. Include top performing partners in sales forecasting calls, quarterly meetings, and go-to-market planning sessions.
How many of these techniques have you adopted in your efforts to engage channel partners? Which techniques will you try?
Content on this site was originally written by Katharine Miller between 2000-2015. Many feature articles and interviews were published in print and on websites that no longer exist. Katharine is reproducing her written material here for portfolio and archival purposes only. Links and credits to clients and original publication will be included where possible.