Perspectives: February 2018

 Your Business’s Health Is Our Business, Too

The New Year’s holiday has come and gone, and most of our New Year’s resolutions are already starting to falter, if they have not been dropped completely. One of the most common resolutions is to improve our health—whether it is to lose weight, eat better or exercise more. Health-related resolutions are a good way to start the year, and I know I perform better when I’m exercising regularly and at an ideal weight.

Of course, it’s only after I start exercising and getting back into shape that I realize how far I had let myself go. Sometimes the catalyst to notice I’m getting out of shape is when my pants get a little tight, while other times the scale is my wake-up call (or the fact that I’m avoiding getting on the scale at all).

Our businesses also have signs indicating their health, to which we must pay attention. 

In sales, we often focus on how much the next commission check will be to determine our financial health. Some salespeople wisely look further at key performance indicators such as the number of outstanding quotes or number of appointments. In general business, we focus on monthly financials with a careful eye on our revenue and expenses. These are valuable and critical indicators of our business’s overall health.

In addition to looking at your monthly balance sheet and income statement (or commission check), specifically focusing on traditional key performance indicators (KPIs) will help your business remain healthy. Very common KPIs used by salespeople and business owners in our industry include:

  • Sales growth
  • Sales pipeline/funnel
  • Margin and margin trends
  • Cash flow

Meanwhile, your business (including those of you in sales, since you essentially run your own business) may have “health issues” not reflected on the financial statements or KPI dashboards. These issues can cause an otherwise healthy business to falter in the long term. Often these challenges can be brought on by outside forces such as a new competitor, a loss of a key contributor, disruptive technology, a significant change in the market, a recession or myriad other reasons.  

Looking outside your business and beyond your financials is the primary motivation for PPAI to help members use and leverage strategic foresight. Strategic foresight is not a product that you can buy—it’s a combination of information provided by expert sources (including PPAI) coupled with your own efforts to apply the foresight to your business. One of the tools PPAI offers is the very insightful ITR quarterly market outlook survey. It’s used by businesses of all sizes to prepare for the next quarter and the coming years, and it provides forecasts specific to our industry as well as the overall economy. 

To access the comprehensive report at no charge, become a contributor to PPAI’s quarterly Market Outlook Survey (contact PPAI Research Coordinator Moumita Das at MoD@ppai.org for more details). It’s a valuable report that will help you see what’s happening outside your business.  

In addition to the ITR report, PPAI is investing in additional resources to provide our members valuable insights to apply to their business health. This most notably comes from the first-rate speakers at all PPAI events. At every PPAI event, you have the chance to hear from industry peers and external experts on topics that will help your business stay healthy for the long term. There are also myriad reports, research and news topics available to you on the new ppai.org website. 

Strategic foresight goes well beyond the ITR report and education—it also encompasses tools to help you build specific insights and projections for your business. PPAI has already begun training members and providing resources to help each business prepare for the future, and there is more to come. This year, make your business resolution to leverage strategic foresight and use some, if not all, of the strategic foresight components PPAI offers.  

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