Fifteen Things You Need to Try in 2018

I originally wrote this for AV Matters® in December of 2016. I planned on writing a new list, but all of these previous items still matter. So, I am appending five more items and making some tweaks to the original list.

I hope you tried a lot of these this past year. Let me know what worked and what didn’t.

1. Write an Outcome-Based Proposal

Develop a proposal that does not reference “how” you will do something. No equipment, technology, or methodology. Simply explain what the benefits to the customer will be. To better understand what this might look like, watch my webinar: Better Proposals for Service Companies.

2. Win a Project without a Proposal

Too often we rush to put a proposal in front of a client when we haven’t taken the time to build a relationship, understand their needs, and determine if there is a conceptual agreement that would bypass the need for a proposal. How do you not write a proposal when the customer is asking for one? Check out this blog titled, “Saved By Proposal.”

3. Complete Ten Nagging To-Do’s in a Day

You have a list of things to do on your desk – probably on scraps of paper or sticky notes. They are so unimportant that they didn’t find your way into your planner. Do yourself a favor and turn off the phone, shut down your email, and grind down that list.

4. Try Being Your Own Customer

Let’s take a new approach to this. Your company is run by a series of processes in which one person is supposed to do something for another. Everyone in your organization spends time being both an internal customer and an internal supplier, often switching roles back and forth the same co-workers.

5. Be the High Bidder

No matter how well-crafted a Request for Proposal may be, it doesn’t replace good sales work. Choose an RFP that is worthy of your best work, then take that customer through the three steps I outline in this The Wake-Up CallSM series podcast, “RFP Best Practices.”

6. Be the Low Bidder

You certainly don’t need to be the low bidder to win every job, but sometimes your pipeline tells you that there is money to be made if you know how. The first step is to master your understanding of costs and the processes that affect them. To hear some of my thoughts on the importance of job cost, watch this short video.

7. Have an Uncomfortable Conversation with You Know Who

Somewhere in your organization is a very valuable employee who is approaching the point of losing their job or driving away other valuable employees, because you are afraid to let them know. It’s time. You might be surprised at how positive the outcome actually is. Here what I have to say about Uncomfortable Conversations in this video.

8. Bust a Silo

Silos are not a bad thing in themselves, but the byproduct of business silos is often stagnation. There is a goal you have for your company that is being held up by silo-based institutional constraints. Find that silo and tear it down. To learn more about the three key steps to silo-busting, listen to Tom’s podcast, The Wake-Up Call®.

9. Voluntarily Give a Refund to Client

I’m not kidding. Sometime this year you and your team will under-deliver on a project. Let your employees know how important your reputation is and how committed you are to a better customer experience by surprising a customer with a refund. For more thoughts on the value of humble pie, check out this blog post, “Great Job? So Sorry.”

10. Create a Profitable Fiscal Budget and Stick with it!

Too many companies settle for the profit they make instead of working for the profit goal they have set. If 20% net profit is your goal, then write a budget that gets you there. Don’t compromise your goal just because things change. That is true budget discipline. Learn more about Intentional Success® in this article, “Rethinking Budgeting for Business.

11. Turn Down a Meeting Request

Go ahead. It’s awesome. Don’t do it just to be spiteful, but take stock in your busy-ness and do something to compensate. The kinds of meetings I won’t attend include anything without an agenda, a leader, or a deliverable.

12. Write A Blog Post

Ugh! If you are struggling for topics, describe the biggest business mistake you ever made and how that affects what you do today. You have a recorder on your phone? Ask someone to sit in front of you and ask you the question. Record your answer and have someone transcribe it for you. Make a few minor edits and you are done.

13. Attend a Seminar, Workshop, or Course

OK, I admit this is self-serving but all you need is one good idea, technique, or tool to make it worth your while. Take a team member with you and combine your insights.

14. Update Your Email Signature

Check out what other people do. What information is most useful for you? Consider adding a useful links instead of text or images. Your mobile users will thank-you!

15. Schedule Your Vacation

Pick out the dates and put it on the calendar. No caveats, contingencies, or “if” statements. Put a commitment to yourself and your family ahead of business. In fact, get your employees to do the same thing.

And on that note, I wish you a Happy Holiday, Merry Christmas, and Joyous New Year!