It may feel like the start of the year, but the end of the first quarter is already drawing near. Statistically, we are approximately 20% of the way through the entire year.

Whether you have 1M, 10M, or more as your goal, you should have secured around 20% of those sales and orders. Projections all look realistic when the years starts.   You may have even lowered your targets in hopes that it would make it that much easier to meet your projections. However, it’s early enough to re-evaluate your goals right now—do not ignore the date.

It’s Getting Late Early

“It’s Getting Late Early”  —Yogi Berra

As we progress through the year, how do you prevent your goals from slipping? Understanding exactly where you stand now can help you determine whether your sales numbers are on track, then prevent any issues for the rest of the year—Q2, Q3 and Q4.

Here are a few methods to check your progress:

 Revisit Key Metrics and Key Accounts

Your first step when determining your company’s progress is to evaluate all key revenue metrics and accounts. Understanding where you stand now from a revenue, earnings, cost and budgeting standpoint is critical for keeping growth projections intact.

To do this, you should have a key accounts list, meet with your internal team, and ask them important questions about your clients and prospects.

Find out what your customers’ budgets look like today, then solidify or reestablish the quarter during which they plan to place their order with you. You should also determine key metrics to assess how well you’re delivering on your promises to your customers.  Don’t get into your own way!

Orders can often be pushed back by budgetary shifts. If a client planned to buy in Q2 but now estimates that they will instead place an order in Q4, be prepared for the possibility that they may actually push that order out to next year. Knowing this, you can plan accordingly to supplement the gap in sales this will create.

Understanding where your client stands now will also allow you to look for ways to push up your client’s order. If they’ve verbally committed to Q3 and sound confident about their ability to spend with you, see if you can coax a deal out of those conversations that leads to a sale in Q2. Unless a deal is signed, there is always a risk that a customer will back out of an order they honestly intend to place.

 Evaluate Your Product & Service Quality in Comparison with Customer Expectations

Periodically auditing the quality of your product or service is perhaps just as important as knowing how and when your customers plan to spend.

Take this opportunity to determine how well you’re delivering on your promises to your customers. Find out whether your deliveries arrive on time, and how well your product addresses customers’ pain points.

When conducting your quarterly reviews, survey your customers to understand how they are reacting to your product. Conduct market analyses to see how you stack up against your competition.

Another way to check your operations and product quality is by evaluating your current engineering projects. Check on the projected installation timelines to ensure rollouts go smoothly. Determine the progress of new product developments.

If roadblocks arise or projects are stalled, address those issues now and inform any affected clients. Bad news doesn’t get better with age, so provide customers with bad news sooner rather than later. This may help you avoid problems in the future by keeping customers’ trust and saving those business relationships down the road.

By isolating any areas that need to be improved, you can be just as invested in securing repeat clients as you are in making new sales.

 Look at Which Cost Centers are NOT Providing the Results You Expected

At two full months into the year, now is the time to reassess all cost centers and expenses.

Are the costs that you’re incurring delivering the ROI that you expected? Find out whether your website is receiving the traffic you projected, whether your marketing efforts are delivering results—or at least on track.

If the ROI is not materializing now, then be sure to understand why the ROI is not appearing. At this point, 20% of your available annual timeline has been spent on a given project. This means that for certain projects there has been enough time invested to understand whether an agenda is simply a little behind, or if you should cut costs and use your resources elsewhere.

 Pivot, Adjust, or Supplement Where Needed

Once you have addressed the steps above, you are now prepared to reposition your plan accordingly. If your sales numbers dip below projections, you may need to take an action like adjusting your prices or changing/supplementing your sales team. If your marketing efforts are falling behind, you can determine whether the department should outsource some of the work to an external agency.   Bottom line, don’t keep spending money if it’s not working.

Input the data you have gathered about your production and operations into your analytics database, then compare it to any benchmarks and KPIs you have set to make critical decisions. If you haven’t built an analytics platform to delve into your data, check out my recommendations for turning your data into gold that will help you start.

Alternatively, you can pull together a team or hire a consultant to compare your company’s performance manually against the right benchmarks. This will help you synthesize your information to make decisions that will have the most benefit for your annual projections.

The most important part of this process is to take action now, before it becomes too difficult to change trajectories and compensate for lost time. You can still meet your 2018 projections, but you need to start reviewing your progress now. By arming yourself with the information gathered during your review process, you can take action and consistently grow your bottom line every year.

For help with your own review process, you can contact me at [contact info here] and I’ll be happy to help keep you on the right track.


Additional resources to help you through your review process can be found here:

Data is the New Oil: Drill Into Data and Achieve Success With Analytics

Are Consultants Over-Hyped?: When to Hire & What to Look For

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