The second half of 2011 begins on July 1, so now is the time for a mid-year review of your product mix. Failed programs and strategies need to be eliminated or fixed. Successful products and programs should be fine-tuned and expanded.
Start with a review of your company financials from the perspective of which products and services are having the most positive and negative effects on the bottom line. Once the analysis is complete, randomly list the trends on a white board (physical or electronic) to avoid the not-seeing-the-forest-for-the-trees spreadsheet syndrome. Focus on what stands out. For example, “product line B has not kept pace with the competition and only sells when discounted”. Another may be that “we are not getting as many add-on sales or support renewals from our installed base as in previous years”.
The next step is to have an open discourse with as many key employees as possible. Determine how their observations compare to your analysis and interpretations. Probe for their ideas on how to fix any problems or issues they present. Listen, rather that sharing your ideas, as your observations may influence their views and you do not want bobblehead responses. Fixing the failures is critical, as they tend to drain valuable resources; but getting staff opinions for expanding successful programs is just as vital.
The key dynamic is “shelf space”. Retail operations have a fixed amount of shelf space, so when sales of a product falls off, it is quickly replaced. Resellers have a finite amount of sales and support resources, so the situation is very similar. However, bringing on a new products has an associated startup cost; so make your decisions carefully and consider creative alternatives. For example, launching a stealth sales team by giving your support staff incentives or commissions for add-on sales and support renewals costs little and can have a dramatic effect. Becoming an agent for hosted services like VoIP, FoIP or Exchange has minimal startup costs and can be launched quickly. The TMC (News - Alert) website is an excellent source of ideas.
Get started now – July 1 is only a few weeks away.
Max Schroeder is senior vice president of FaxCore (News - Alert) Inc. (www.faxcore.com).
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Edited by Stefania Viscusi