14 Fundamentals to Achieving Success

14 Fundamentals to Achieving Success in 2014

By: Christine Hollinden

The New Year is a time for reflection on the past, present, and future; successes and failures; missteps and homeruns. Leading a successful professional services firm requires a broad perspective and the foresight to lead your firm past unexpected hurdles and achieve new heights. To celebrate this new year, we’ve compiled 14 ideas to help you achieve success in 2014.

1. Clear Vision. A vision is a picture of success at a certain period of time. A vision articulates where your firm is going and the plan sets the roadmap. Don’t hold back. Go for exceptional. Tap into the passion that led you to this business in the first place. Write from the heart and your vision will inspire and motivate.


2. Measurable Goals. Set goals for the new year. All goals, both firmwide and individual, must be in writing, measurable, achievable, accessible, and shared to improve likelihood of success. Markets and industries are constantly changing. Evaluate trends and variables to avoid missing opportunities.


3. Ideal Client. Make a list of your top 10-20 clients. Identify all elements that make them the ideal. Think in terms of revenue, profitability, relationship, and loyalty, as well as personality, motivations, behavioral and attitudinal elements. Share the traits of the ideal client with your entire team. Then, focus the business development efforts on landing new clients with those same traits. Remember, great clients are also great referral sources – they never hesitate to send others your way.


4. Key Messages. Know what sets your firm apart and refine the differentiator into a brief positioning statement (think elevator speech) with supporting key messages for various target audiences. Ensure that all team members know the positioning statement and key messages. A clear message resonates with the target audience and is memorable.


5. Strong Culture. Is the culture consistent with your vision of the firm? Observe conversations, demeanor, and body language to identify opportunities for realignment. Team members must understand their role and realize that every word and action impacts the firm’s brand and reputation – either positively or negatively. Evaluate the role your employees play in their respective teams. Does each individual’s role play to their strengths? Do they have the ability to bring their best to the table every time or are they in conflict with their natural tendencies? Identifying the strengths of each team member improves team synergy and productivity. A strong culture and strong team breed success internally and externally.


6. Solid CRM. Every business should have a database of contacts. Depending on how long you have been in business, you have a significant database whether it is organized or not. If you don’t have a CRM, get one now! (You may want to check out Cosential – built specifically for the needs of A/E/C firms.) Clean up the data by updating names, contact information, and email addresses. Purge old information, eliminate duplicates, and start the new year with solid data.


7. Exceptional Experience. The difference between average and exceptional is often the smallest details that make the experience something special. Examine all touchpoints and take one small step to improve the experience of doing business with your firm. Something simple like “thank you” can turn ordinary to memorable.


8. Power Network.
Examine your own network or circle of influence to identify key contacts who can help you build your book of business and professional network. As the leading professional networking site, LinkedIn is a great tool to use. Update the summary statement in your profile and add any missing or incomplete information. Then, take a look at your network. Your LinkedIn contacts should only consist of clients, prospects, referral sources and industry influencers. Move social contacts to Facebook or other channel that you use for personal use. Leave LinkedIn to building your power network.

9. Referral Relationships. When’s the last time you met with those in your network? Do they really know how your firm serves clients and what sets your firm apart from the competition? Make a list of your most valuable connections and invite them to coffee, lunch or just a quick meeting to discuss services, ideal clients, and opportunities for growth. Don’t be shy; ask for referrals. Just remember that networking is a two-way street – gather the same information about their services, ideal clients, and opportunities. Referrals beget referrals.


10. Conversion Content. Is your firm’s web site a revenue-generating tool or a stagnant billboard? Evaluate site content to ensure that it is grammatically correct, relevant, and well positioned. Add a call-to-action on significant pages that addresses your target audience needs and motivations. Give clients and prospects a business reason to visit your site. Checklists, articles, guidelines, opinion pieces, and industry news are the type of content that attract qualified site visitors. Take advantage of opportunities to capture information from visitors through contact or subscription forms. Content is the key to conversion.


11. Be Social. Social media plays a vital role in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and employee recruitment, as well as in business development even for the most conservative professional service firms. Refine your firm’s social media efforts to integrate into the overall marketing strategy. Improve your social media presence by updating key messages, adding content, and promoting the channels on e-signatures, invoices, newsletters, and other communications. A social media calendar will keep you organized and improve consistency. Facebook is also an amazing recruitment tool when used to demonstrate culture, community involvement, and to highlight team members. Add photos of your team at work, social events, and performing community service. Make sure to add a link so that top talent can easily submit a resume.


12. Process Improvement. Work smarter, not harder by developing or improving processes throughout your organization. Explore the use of technology wherever possible. Think mobile devices and apps for communicating, gathering, and sharing information. If you are a construction firm still doing estimates by hand, check out services like SmartBidNet. Don’t overlook the basics like Google Analytics or an emarketing service. Tools like these save money, leverage resources, and produce trackable data.


13. Measure ROI. Metrics have become easier to implement and track with the onslaught of marketing automation tools. Establish baselines and identify a realistic goal for growth in each marketing initiative. Allocate responsibilities across teams and hold each accountable for achieving the firm’s goals. Set aside time once per month to revisit goals and gauge success.


14. Celebrate Success. Evaluate progress throughout the year. Keep team members informed of the progress as the year passes. Celebrate successes – even small ones – to keep the momentum and motivation going strong.