With the end of Q1 in sight, it’s time to review the progress of your plan to make sure you’re on track for success. Most businesses plan for a ‘fast start’, setting ambitious targets for the critical first months of the year that often set the performance tone for the remainder of the year. However, hitting targets can be harder than setting them, particularly given the uncertainty of the current economic climate. If you find yourself with a performance gap this quarter end, follow our 5-Step approach below to get your plan back on track to hit your overall target for 2022.
Step 1: Understand the Gap
Before leaping into ‘solution mode’, take the time to review your Q1 performance in depth. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the size of the performance gap I need to cover?
- What did/didn’t work?
- How robust were my forecast assumptions?
- What can I learn to help deliver the rest of 2022?
The better you understand the performance dynamics of your business, the more likely you are to find opportunities to turn around your numbers. It will also help you identify risks in the rest of your plan, giving you a chance to course-correct before it’s too late.
Step 2: Get Creative
Once you’re clear on the task ahead, you need to look for opportunities to replace the lost revenue and shore up any risk identified in the forward plan. Use the insight gained from your performance analysis of Q1 to inform your focus. Here are three top tips to help you fill your gap:
- Work as a Team: Many hands make light work! Working with colleagues who are not as close to your detailed plan will bring fresh thinking and will challenge your perspective . Keep an open mind and try to build on the ideas and initiatives of others. Think ‘yes and’ rather than ‘no but’!
- Steal with Pride: Take a close look at what is working for colleagues and competitors. What could you replicate that would help your business?
- Work the Numbers: Once you have a list of opportunities, spend time on quantifying the commercials to ensure you understand the viability of each opportunity. This will allow you to prioritise and then build a business case for sign off.
You should ideally plan more opportunities than you think you need to fill your gap. None of us have a crystal ball and it’s likely other unforeseen risks will materialise later on in the year, so it’s helpful to have new initiatives at the ready.
Step 3: Manage the Pressure
It’s normal to feel uncomfortable in a situation where your performance lags expectation. How you choose to communicate is a critical factor in how the wider business perceives the situation. Being proactive and taking ownership will help you navigate these tricky waters. Start by creating a simple story to enable others to quickly understand the context. Use visual aids such as slides and graphs to bring the story to life and ensure you can explain the numbers and assumptions that sit behind them. Present your story with confidence, taking your time and keeping your body-language relaxed and positive. Be ready for questions and try not to take any challenge personally. Once your stakeholders see evidence of a robust plan, they will reset their expectations in line with this.
Step 4: Sell it!
A performance gap expressed in a different way is an opportunity! This is the perfect time to take an engaging commercial story to clients and customers. Use the storyboarding technique to plan your story. Find case studies and data to make your recommendations ‘bullet-proof’ and link your ideas and solutions to their ‘needs’. Talk features and sell benefits so they can see clearly what’s in it for them to say “yes”. Finally, make sure you express the commercial opportunity for them in a meaningful way and explain the assumptions you have made to build credibility.
Step 5: Negotiate Masterfully
Presenting new opportunities gives you a chance to re-negotiate parts of your plan that aren’t working. It’s more important than ever to dial up your ambition when performance lags. Stay on top of your inner gremlin so you don’t negotiate with yourself. Look to recycle any redundant investment into new initiatives and use your creativity to bring different variables to the table.
The ability to course-correct is a key part of a Commercial Athlete’s kit-bag. Knowing how to review and adjust your plan will help you build resilience, confidence and commercial learning. For more information about how we can support you with your business planning contact us here, email Nicole.firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +441923822766