There are only 3 things to know to make dramatically better decisions:
1) How we’ve done in the past.
2) What our competition is doing now.
3) What our customers will want in the future.
1. How We’ve Done in the Past. At this point in the Big Data and SaaS revolutions at our fingertips should always be dead accurate data on mission critical processes like customer acquisition costs by marketing and sales channel, profitability by client type / employee role, and really anything else that moves and trends on a regular basis, and upon which the performance of our business depends.
Truly understanding and accepting our company’s historical performance – good and bad – is the mature approach to better business decision-making.
It is mature in that it accepts that while huge business breakthroughs are always possible (and we should always be highly optimistic and innocent in our quest for them, incremental business improvement, with just a little more focus on the numbers, is always highly probable.
And the most important step in getting that incremental improvement is to “get real” with ourselves and our track records and then find the 1% improvement here, the 2% gain there, that over time compound into significantly better results.
2. What the Competition is Doing Now. Could one possibly imagine a great coach – a Bill Belichick, a Nick Saban, a Mike Krzyzewski – not investing gobs and of time and resources into knowing everything about their next opponent?
Business is no different. Conjuring up and executing upon great business strategy is not possible without knowing everything about our best competitors – how they market, how they sell, how they fulfill, and their costs and margins in so doing.
Now a cool thing is that that thing that we all waste lots of business time on every day- i.e. the Internet – is also the first and best place to find out everything we ever wanted to know about what our competitors are doing and more.
For sure, the most juicy and valuable competitive intell. can’t be found from a simple web search, but through that search we can certainly connect with the people and firms who can go out and get it for us (write me if you would like to learn more about how to do this!).
3. What Our Customers Will Want. Since business time immemorial predicting the needs and wants of our customers has been seen as an intuitive and dark art – truly understood only by genius marketers and sales savants.
Luckily, the behavioral science literature as what really drives customer decision-making has exploded over the years, with the most profitable firms in the world investing significant resources into studying and learning from and all of us should too.
Easy shortcuts to do so including online quizzing technology, with the key insight being gamification – i.e. making it fun for customers to tell us more about them,
And pattern recognition software – where we enter in a cohort of our customer and then have a comparison run against public data sets to find the “non-obvious” correlations between the psychographics and purchase patterns of our current customers and future best prospects.
Now, a final word as to how to best intake these data sets and use them to regularly and reliably output better business decisions and action plans.
You just gotta meet and talk about it!!
But not in the typical lazy way that most business strategy meetings are run.
Instead, first assemble all of the data above into as organized and simple to digest formats as possible.
Then “pre-read” it all before the meeting. This “pre-read” preparation time is critical to let the insights from the data sink in and to allow the meeting time to be focused on the key business decisions that flow from the data versus just data “digestion”
Then and only then get the key team members together, (and these need to be longer meetings – 90 minutes to 2 hours at a minimum) and let the “Eureka” moments flow!
None of the above is complicated.
Just diligently collect and review those three big buckets of data, meet to talk about it, and watch both the better business decisions and $$ flow!
What about your company?
Do you need better information and / or a solid sounding board for some of your key business decisions? If so, send me an email to [email protected]
In your email, tell me about a key decision that if you execute upon it properly can propel your company forward in a new and powerful way. And then I’ll email you back my thoughts to help you.