By  Tom Dustman, International Sales Director, Sunnen Products Company

Part 2 of 2

Last month in this column, we discussed why it’s important to have a formal business review on a regular basis. This month, we’ll take a closer look at the specifics of how to get that done.

Let’s start by asking questions. Does your CRM help your organization on a global basis? Can you get the needed intelligence from your CRM or is your review effort loaded with opinions and few facts?

Where is your customer base?  Have your customers’ needs changed? If so, how have they changed, and what is necessary to retain them and grow your business?  Have the customers consolidated, and what does that mean?  Have your customers moved to new locations, and how do you continue to service them?  Is the 80-20 rule in effect, meaning that you get 80 percent of your business from 20 percent of your customers, and if so, do you have key account management in place to retain that business?

The business review should confirm any shift in market size. Are competitive processes taking market share from you, and if so, what is your strategy to cast the net wider?

Don’t rehash the past; that just bogs down the entire process.  Instead, focus on what the past means and where it leads. Data-driven analysis is critical in your review of the past.

Confirm your past learnings with facts and apply for your future successes. For example, have an hour-long call with each of your functional leaders and cover the performance of the prior review and those deliverables identified, and come to agreement about how the deliverable is attained or what went off into the weeds and did not get your organization the successes that were planned.

Your review should also include a competitor review, and determine which competitors are gaining market share and which are failing.
Ensure you have a well-defined plan at the end of the process, and implement teams to take on those defined actions. Set a timeline and schedule regular progress reports. 

Your business review should not be rushed for completion but rather allow the needed and ample time for in-depth discussions and a thorough exchange of ideas. The CEO might either use a consultant or lead the review him or herself, but the primary goal is to keep the meeting moving forward.  The CEO also needs to ensure everyone on the team is brought into the review.  Action is imperative, in addition to solid lessons that will help in developing the next plan. 

Finally, the CEO must get buy-in from the group. That’s not the same as consensus. It’s important that all opinions are considered before a final decision is reached.  

The lessons learned in a business review will keep your organization focused and will become crucial factors for success. If your organization puts off making effective business reviews, the efforts needed to correct the organization will be significant and a struggle for your team.  

Make it a priority to conduct regular business reviews, including a comprehensive look at market needs, market size, your customers, competitors, financial sustainability, and a focus on new product innovation. With regular effort, it’s an effort that will pay dividends to your organization.