Would you start a software implementation project for a client without requirements? Without design or at least some wireframes?
That’s the equivalent of trying to grow your sales pipeline without a strategy.
A personal filter
There are many things I have done in my life without a strategy.
Most of the time, this happened out of ignorance. I just didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
After all these experiences I have a personal definition of what a good strategy is: “what I wished I had known and decided myself I want as an outcome. At the beginning of the process.”
I’ve seen many people saying variations of “if I had thought about this a few years ago, it would have been much easier. Or I could have reached this current state much faster.”
That is what a good strategy does for you.
It helps you reach your goals, faster, or with less effort.
The sales pipeline and strategy
Last week I wrote about the health of the sales pipeline.
If this is something you want to improve, there are a few questions you need to answer:
Who is your ideal customer?
Without this clearly defined, your marketing and prospecting teams would not know who to search for. Or they will just waste a lot of time and effort with little to show for in terms of leads.
What problems are you solving for these ideal customers?
If this is not well documented, your team will not know what to communicate to draw attention to your company, to bring prospects on the top of your sales funnel.
What level of quality are you able to deliver to these customers?
If different team members don’t agree on what you are offering, your communication will be too vague and generic, which means that few people will even notice it.
It will also make it much more difficult to move leads and potential customers between the different stages of the sales process.
What is your price?
For software services companies, there are basically 3 options:
- Good enough – right quality at the right price
- Premium services and prices
Can you have a 5-minutes conversation with a prospect without the topic of price being mentioned? Even if you want to, price will always be on the customer’s mind. You cannot escape it. You need to have a very good answer to this.
What else do you need
To answer those questions, you also need to understand very well your current context, what is happening around you and the constraints you are facing, primarily in terms of skills in the team and resources you can invest.
And the most important thing you need is the willingness to say no.
Strategy is much more about saying no than it is about making the perfect choices.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU
Can you answer this question: where will our profits come from in 2023?
Can you answer it at a granular level, down to projects and billable days?
If you can’t answer it with at least 80% confidence, you probably need to work more on your strategy, before doing anything else.