Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Are you are making progress?

“I’m like a little boat adrift in the ocean - I don’t know whether I’m 200 yards from land or 200 miles.”

When we are working under difficult conditions, it’s easy to lose sight of the basics.   The old saying “when you are up to your neck in alligators, don’t forget you came to drain the swap” is never more true when something is hard going.  We set out bright eyed and bushy tailed only to find everything a lot more difficult than we realised.  As time marches on our enthusiasm dwindles, and we start to wonder whether we will ever be successful.

I was talking to someone a few weeks ago about his business and he said he felt like a little boat adrift in the ocean.  He had no idea whether he was 200 yards from land, or 200 miles.  It’s not a nice feeling, and it’s all too easy to give up when you feel like that.  He was taking a step back to figure out what to do with this feeling.

What’s needed is to work out what’s important in your business, and to measure it.  In his business it was getting face to face meetings with people who have a need for his service.  As it turns out meetings with prospects is a lag indicator, rather than a lead indicator.  That is to say that the number of meetings with prospects is a result of work already done.  That work might be meeting new people at networking events, or having people request a white paper from your web site, or making a certain number of cold calls each week.  You know what the activities are that you need to do to create the circumstances where meetings with prospects start to get into your diary.  So the lead indicators are number of new people in your contacts database, the number of marketing communications sent out, etc.  The lag indicator is the number of meetings with prospects.  To say it another way, you reap what you sow. 

Coming back to this feeling of being a boat adrift in the ocean, it’s important to measure this activity.  Unless you know on average how many people you need to contact to generate a meeting you will never know where you are in the ocean.  If you don’t know where you are, your motivation takes a hit.  Without motivation you don’t do those upfront activities that are actually the life blood of your business.  So measurement isn’t a nice to have, it’s actually the map that guides our little boats through calm or chopping waters. 

I wrote about lead and lag indicators a while ago, if you want to have another look.

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