Tis the season for strategic planning as many of us wrap up the year and look to plan for next year and beyond. Before you start planning though, it’s important to remember that proper preparation and strategic thinking is key to an effective strategic planning session.
To significantly enhance your planning session, I suggest taking some time out to prepare for the session.
Here are 3 tips to prepare for your Annual Strategic Planning Session:
- Talk with your current customers
- Survey your employees
- Review your numbers
It’s always good to stay in touch with your best customers. Identify your best 10 to 15 customers and reach out to them personally. Call these customers and discuss with them their current opportunities and challenges. Try to understand how their business is doing and what they are projecting business will be like in the next year. This will help you understand and project your revenues. Then turn the conversation toward your business and ask how they like your product or service? Are they happy with your services? Ask them what they feel you could be doing better. Your customers can provide powerful insight into your business and it’s great to keep in touch with them so the benefits of placing a call is two fold.
Next, touch base with your employees. Talk to not only your senior leaders, but more importantly those that are closer to the day to day customer relations. You will not only receive powerful feedback, but also your employees will appreciate your interest in their point of view. Ask your employees: What do you think our company should start doing, stop doing and keep doing?
Lastly, review your numbers. Start by ranking your various products and services by total gross margin contribution, revenue, gross margin percentage and profitability. Take a look at your products and services that account for 85% of your total activity and financial success. It’s also helpful to analyze specific costs associated with your top products and services. Then use the Pareto’s Principle – The 80-20 Rule . The 80/20 Rule means that in anything a few (20 percent) are vital and many (80 percent) are trivial. So essentially saying 20 percent of your products, services, customers, sales people etc. outperform the other 80%.
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