At CEO Coaching International, we don’t pretend to have all the answers. But we do offer our clients the best questions.
One common adjective I use to describe struggling businesses is “complacent.” An effective CEO is always analyzing his or her company, looking for targets that could lead to exponential growth, measuring daily activities, surveying the broader industry for the next big wave and potential threats from newcomers.
Don’t be lulled into complacency just because your business is in a good place. Why are you settling for good, when you could be aiming for BIG?
My clients that have asked themselves the following ten questions and really committed to following through on the answers have all seen tremendous growth. So will you.
1. What would be the impact on revenue and profit if you got the best person in the country to fill your sales manager position?
I hear it all the time: “I know who the best sales manager in my industry is, but I can’t afford him.” Wrong. What you really can’t afford is NOT having the best people on your team. Do a little math, and ask yourself these questions: What would a top sales manager’s talent and experience add to your customer base? Your reputation? Your profits? More often than not, even an expensive top hire pays for itself in no time.
2. What’s the number one thing or number one activity that if you did it consistently for the next 18 months, would lead to a dramatic increase in sales?
Having a scoreboard in place that tracks meaningful activities really helps with this one. If you don’t track your most important activities, start doing it. If you do, what are the numbers telling you? Is your sales team making enough calls? Sending out enough mailers? Is your social media marketing turning clicks into dollars? Figure out what that leading activity is, and focus your sales team on it.
3. Which of your competitors’ strategies should you copy? Which should you do exactly the opposite of?
Don’t be the next Blockbuster Video or Kodak. If you don’t know what processes are driving your competitors’ success, do your homework and see what ideas you can make your own. If your competition has stumbled lately, figure out why so you don’t make the same mistakes.
4. When was the last time you spent meaningful time with your best clients?
Who are your high-volume and high-margin customers that are growing? Do you have an opportunity to grow your business with them? If you haven’t had any face time in a while, schedule a lunch meeting and make sure you’re doing everything you can to meet your key clients’ expectations, and maximize your business relationship.
5. What should you be delegating so you can spend more time on the activities that will move the sales needle?
As CEO, you’re responsible for realizing your vision for the company’s success. Any minute you spend doing something that isn’t pushing the company closer to your big goals is a wasted minute. You’re the poet, not the plumber. Delegate the small stuff so you can focus on the big picture.
6. If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do differently in sales and marketing?
If your brand has gone a little stale, don’t be afraid to go a little outrageous and shake things up. Find ways to reintroduce yourself to your customers with storytelling that appeals to their wants and needs. Just don’t lose sight of what makes you and your existing brand authentic.
7. In an ideal world, if you could change one thing about yourself that is limiting your ability to grow sales, what would it be and why?
All CEOs have blind spots. Some act like a bull in a china shop to show who’s in charge. Some have trouble delegating. Some stick with ineffective employees for too long. Some don’t have anyone who holds them accountable. Identify your blind spots and make a plan to minimize their negative impact on your business. If you’re having trouble identifying your blind spots, get a coach.
8. If you could only sell to new customers over the next 18 months and not generate any repeat business, how would you change your sales and marketing plan?
If your business lives off small sales spread out across an existing client base, then you’re going to stay small forever. Stop hooking small fish in a shallow pool and figure out how to catch big fish in deeper, more profitable waters.
9. How could you use technology or different marketing media to reach 10 prospective clients for every 1 prospective client that you are reaching today?
Too many CEOs are scared of new tech and social media. Get over your privacy concerns, educate yourself on any trends that might have slipped past you, and build a modern marketing program that will diversify and grow your client base. If you don’t, your up-and-coming competitors will.
10. How can you enhance your marketing by creating a story around your product/service?
Consumers today don’t just want to buy stuff: they want to feel like they’re part of something, and contributing to something. As CEO, you’re the company’s chief storyteller. What story is your company telling customers? How are you engaging your customers on an emotional level, and satisfying a deeply-felt need? How are your products, and your marketing, helping customers feel like they’re connecting to something bigger?
Whether you’re looking to grow a successful business or save a distressed one, ask yourself these questions periodically to keep challenging yourself, and to keep your company on its way to making BIG happen.
Mark Moses is the Founding Partner of CEO Coaching International and the Amazon Bestselling author of Make Big Happen. His firm coaches over 145 of the world’s top high-growth entrepreneurs and CEO’s on how to dramatically grow their revenues and profits, implement the most effective strategies, becoming better leaders, grow their people, build accountability systems, and elevate their own performance. Mark has won Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award and the Blue Chip Enterprise award for overcoming adversity. His last company ranked #1 Fastest-Growing Company in Los Angeles as well as #10 on the Inc. 500 of fastest growing private companies in the U.S. He has completed 12 full distance Ironman Triathlons including the Hawaii Ironman World Championship 5 times.