How did you like 2016 – and how about 2017? How about risk management of your sales pipeline?

Many of us are highly distracted by the uncertainties in the world and the impact on their businesses. Are there only threads or are there even opportunities? Here are some thoughts how to approach 2017 – if you are not prepared to waste the year. Why don’t you apply the same risk management techniques to your sales pipeline which are used by professionals to manage their portfolio of assets? You have the freedom of choice to either hope for things getting better or to plan for growth and take action now.

The start of a new year is always a good time for some reflections: how did you like 2016? Many people I am talking to are not happy with recent developments. We all face huge international challenges, unexpected outcome of elections, difficult economic environment. Well, all good reasons to be distracted from business and somehow frustrated. All true, but what do we make of it? One option is certainly to wait and see. You can do a lot of research and wait for the world to repair itself – provided you do not trust our political leaders to do so. In a few years – or never – you might enjoy a better climate for you business.

Is there an alternative? Well, I would highly recommend focusing on what people do not like and do not do well. Planning and execution. Planning is more difficult than it has been. The future is not as foreseeable as we were used to. However, if you do some thoughtful scenario planning you will have at least the bearing points to steer your efforts and resources. Think about a most likely one and thereafter apply some “stress tests” – just as one would do in risk management. Think about your sales pipeline in the same way you would think about a portfolio of assets. Which opportunities will suffer most from economic shocks? How can you hedge your pipeline? If there are potential losers there might be potential winners as well. Did you already discover the hidden champions and the rising stars in your target markets? Do you understand the risk profile of each sales case? Do you actively manage the risk/return ratio?

Interestingly enough, your customers and prospects are facing exactly the same uncertainties – most probably their challenges are even the reasons for your own ones. Hence, you might have to support their planning and budget process with commercial models that are just more flexible. Those models have to reflect their challenges in up and down turn markets. Technology to do so is available and reliable. There are no excuses to continue doing business as usual. In my view the customer life time value is much more important than upfront licence money. Many customers are prepared to pay a risk premium in return for more flexibility

This is the time to establish true partnerships. This is the time where you can make the difference. And, this is the time where execution excellence is not important any more; it is the time where it is nothing less but a necessity to survive.

It was your choice how you finished last year and it is your choice what you make out of 2017. If you what to share your thoughts or if you want some input for those discussions please give me a ring or drop me a mail. I am convinced 2017 can even become a better year that 2016! You just have to get it right. Hence, let me close with wishing you a Happy New Year!