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Top 10 Truisms in Business

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Original post date November  15, 2006

Over the last 25 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with well over 100 companies.  Some of them recognized as “best in class” while others brought up the rear…so to speak.   What has been interesting is the consistent themes, trends, and/or characteristics that determine where they land on that list.

Below are what I’ve observed to be the “Top 10 Truisms” of business behavior.

 The TOP 10

  1. Corporate Culture – is directly related to the CEO. He or she sets the tone that everyone else emulates.
  2. Trust – is the difference between a dysfunctional and a high performance team. If you can not trust the people you work with and/or who work for you, you can not perform at the highest level.
  3. 80/20 Rule – the Pareto Principal always, ALWAYS applies, whether it is revenue, profit, sales, people, etc.
  4. No New Customers – if you are an established company that has been in business for 10 years or more, you can achieve revenue and profit objectives solely based on doing a better job of capturing the opportunity in existing accounts (see the 80/20 rule).
  5. Marketing Contribution – 10-15% of Revenues- if you are in a mature marketplace and you have to use marketing to acquire new customers, sell new products, etc., know that it will not product more than 10-15% of your total revenues. The other 85-90% will come from the sales channels.
  6. The Rule of 70% – given the speed of today’s market, competitors, and customers, getting a product and/or marketing campaign/program 70% complete and out the door is good “enough.” Let customers/prospects complete the rest of the 30% for you. Less internal debate and more customer feedback makes for successful programs and products.
  7. NEW does not mean BETTER – everyone loves something new but it is the last thing that any company should focus on. Building/ selling/thinking NEW takes too long, cost too much and will have the lowest ROI. Focus first on getting more out of existing…and then invest in new (see 80/20 rule..again).
  8. Elephant in the Room syndrome – there are big problems impacting performance in every organization that everyone knows about but no one talks about or attempts to fix. They will treat the symptoms but not the core problem…call it career preservation. High performing companies (and leaders) create a culture that is open to addressing difficult issues.
  9. Risk Tolerance – fast growing and “best in class” companies have a culture of tolerating risk and/or failure. It is a HIGHLY valuable and a very real competitive advantage.
  10. Performance Dashboards - we recently completed a research study with the CMO Council that surveyed over 400 CMO’s in companies over $500 Million in revenue. 50% of the responders said that they have a Dashboard and 38% said that they were working on one. Here’s the truth…they don’t have a dashboard; they have an excel based “Report Card” of what they did, where they spent marketing dollars and what they got in return (hopefully).  The reality is that a real Dashboard has real time information and can allow you to forecast at least 30 days forward.  Don’t show everyone in the organization your “numbers” until you know how to move them in the right direction.

Since this posting, I’ve recognized two other “Truisms.”

  1. Sales Force Behavior – is consistent regardless of what they are selling, who they are selling it to, or the industry they work in.  As a result, it’s somewhat easy to predict how they will react in certain situations and/or to certain changes or challenges.  Good insight for marketers to know.
  2. Smart companies can’t tell you what they do – professional services firms are terrible at creating the “elevator” speech.  The reason is that they view the company as a reflection of the work they do with clients.  Each client and project being different, they form different opinions as to the organization’s value.

Please add your “Truism” in the comment section below.