Almost every business leader has a mental list of big, bold changes he wants to make. Unfortunately, more times than not, nothing seems to change. We get too caught up in everyone’s urgent requests and put off the ambitious decisions. We don’t have a manager to force us to take action, so that big change just stays uncrossed on our mental to-do list.
It’s time to bring those big ideas to the front burner and turn up the heat. Make 2014 the year you stop accepting the status quo and demand more from your company and yourself.
Here are four big changes you can’t afford to put off any longer.
1. Fire the ones who are really asking to be fired.
Ask, “If I knew this was the work they did for another company, would I want to hire them?” Would you look at a rival company with this team and be jealous of what they have or confident in what you have?
It’s way too easy for managers to become complacent with their current staff. You should be constantly asking yourself tough questions. If you don’t, you’re going to foster a “good enough” culture, where people work to maintain, rather than excel. I don’t mean you should fire people who genuinely work hard, contribute, and fit in with the culture but are falling a bit behind. I’m talking about the people who are lacking across the board.
Cull the staff, and use the money you save to reward those who work their tails off. A smaller staff with tighter cohesion and a greater sense that everyone’s contributing will be more successful than a larger staff that has people who are dragging.
2. Get your sales department in order.
Too many companies put up with lackluster salespeople, skimp on training, and neglect their alternate sales channels until it’s too late. Sales is the backbone of your company, so you absolutely must make it a top priority.
Start by hiring a great sales manager. A great sales manager is that rare individual who doesn’t make excuses, believes in accountability, dedicates himself to being an expert on your product, can recruit top salespeople, and isn’t afraid to fire people when necessary. You’re looking for a decision maker who can assert himself in any situation without seeming unreasonable.
These people are few and far between, but finding one is of utmost importance to your company’s success. Don’t be afraid to pay for the good ones — this is an investment that pays off tenfold. Not only will your revenue increase, but it will energize your entire organization.
Make your sales manager’s first task creating a sales playbook. Too often, one-off sales happen by chance or are the result of complete shots in the dark. Stop treating sales like a game of dice, and start treating it like a science. Document your process, capture best practices, and put a system in place to replicate success.
Finally, once your all-star team is in place, explore alternate channels to drive sales cost-effectively. This is an area you absolutely must keep up with; otherwise, all your other cost-cutting measures and efficiency improvements will be negated when you spend twice as much as your competition on sales tactics that aren’t effective.
3. Hire a kickass marketing manager.
It seems like everyone I know is ambivalent at best when they talk about their marketing department, often underwhelmed with its performance. Don’t let this be your company.
Your marketing manager should be someone who wants to kill the competition and earn the respect of the sales department. This isn’t the type of person who tries to justify her budget but is honestly searching for the best and most cost-effective methods. Her results should be tracked and transparent.
The top-notch manager should be current with the latest marketing and sales-related technology and understand how it integrates with other core functions. Everything should come together, and nobody should get too attached to any single method.
Find someone who doesn’t think the job consists solely of coming up with cool ideas. Find someone who understands marketing is equal parts creativity and execution. You’ll know you hired the right person when the manager is finishing your sentences after three months.
4. Write more to people who matter.
Stop sitting in front of your keyboard for 10-minute periods, thinking of the perfect way to begin an email. Most of the time, your idea after 10 minutes is no better than after the first minute.
Write to the people at your company. Don’t be the faceless, voiceless CEO. Be the inspiring business leader.
Write to your customers. Thank them, and find out how you can do more for them.
Write to potential investors. Let them know what breakthroughs you’re having and what opportunities you’re finding.
Write to yourself. Formalize your ambitions.
It’s time to stop procrastinating. These issues are not “someday” action items — they’re vital to your company’s success. Don’t know where to start? Just pick one of these areas that you know you can fix, and fix it. Publicly commit to it so you have no choice but to follow through. Focus on one, and get it done.
Steve Hays is CEO of Be Relevant Group, a company specializing in innovations for better execution in sales and marketing and the creators of insidesalesteam.com and lostleads.com.