I wouldn’t normally have read Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler. If not for my friend Andy Parkinson repeatedly asking for my opinion, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought – mainly because I wrongly assumed a book about the $100 million best practices of a SaaS software company (Salesforce.com) would have little relevance for leaders of professional services firms.
I’m happy to report I was wrong. It’s full of good information for anyone who wants to create a high-growth, predictable, new business effort. Here are 10 take-aways that will help you begin to wrap your head around how to generate predictable revenue for your firm. I’ve refined them with my own experience so they are easily applicable for professional services.
  1. The most important thing for creating predictable revenue is predictable lead generation. This is so true and so easy to forget — especially during busy seasons. Predictable lead generation comes from consistently creating opportunities to get in front of potential new clients. Key word — consistency.
  2. For companies providing high value services or products, the biggest impact can be made by creating (or hiring) an outbound sales development team that focuses 100% on prospecting. Consistency is tough – if not impossible to achieve – when those who do your prospecting have other, often higher value, responsibilities. This is why it’s self-defeating to expect Partners and other practitioners to do their own prospecting.
  3. Similarly, your sales or new business results are only scalable to the extent the CEO and executives are designed out of the process. If you are dependent on the people at the top to create all new business you are artificially restricting your growth.
  4. Shifting from organic growth (based on getting clients through founder’s and partner’s relationships) to proactive growth (based on investing in programs that generate predictable growth) requires new habits, practices and systems. It’s not easy; but in today’s marketplace it’s the only way to grow.
  5. Boards, CEOs and Managing Partners exacerbate the problem when revenue goals are picked arbitrarily without data to support them. You should be tracking stats, such as number of appointments with potential new clients. Use dashboards. Track things. The right things. Results not activities.
  6. The biggest bottleneck for prospecting into new companies that have more than a few executives isn’t getting to the decision maker/influencer/point person … it’s finding them in the first place. There are numerous sources available – including LinkedIn.
  7. Traditional prospecting techniques don’t work anymore. Cold calls are ineffective; targeted marketing programs offering high value items (such as business books) produce disappointing results. If you are selling a complex, high value service or product, your clients demand a more customized approach.
  8. Spend serious time on identifying and clarifying your ideal client profile. This means types of accounts as well as the people within them. The tighter your criteria the more you can focus your message. Generic gets you ignored.
  9. Focus your high value people (partners and execs) on low-volume high-value activities such as their current client base and a short, targeted list of “top 5” or “top 10” strategic accounts to penetrate. Let others take over the low-value high-volume activities.
  10. Baby steps work. As you focus on proactive growth and predictable revenue, you are likely introducing a significant change into your firm. Success doesn’t require a massive corporate initiative. Take small steps — just don’t stop taking them.

At The Conversion Company we’ve found the most effective prospecting programs incorporate one-on-one social media outreach combined with warm email. It’s a specialty of ours – one we’ve been doing since 2010. If you’re interested in learning how we might help your firm achieve predictable revenue, just contact me or email me at [email protected]