What could make you? What could break you? Neither should be a straw on the camels back.
A company’s Make-or-Break is the one thing your company must do exceptionally well in order to achieve its vision. Your Make-or-Break can be anything.
Here are some examples:
You are a manufacturing firm that sells your products through manufacturers’ representatives (reps). The quality of your reps directly impacts the breadth of product penetration you have in your target market. Your Make-or-Break might be the number of manufacturers’ representatives on your team with sales in excess of a certain dollar amount.
You are a small manufacturing firm selling a highly customized niche product globally. To the right customer, price is not a constraint, as your product is difficult to find and critical to those who are looking for it. Your customers find you via the web. Your Make-or-Break might be the number of qualified inquiries per week on your website.
You are a law firm. Your clients primarily come from the network of your business-development partners. Your Make-or-Break might be the number of business-development partners who are generating a certain level of new business per year for your firm.
You are a family entertainment center. You live and die by your walk-in customers. If no one is walking in, there is nothing to sell. Once they come in the door, you have just a few hours to maximize your revenue per customer. Your Make-or-Break might be walk-in customers—and your primary success metric, average sale per customer.
You are a general contractor serving your local marketplace. You have ample opportunity for new business, but you find the decision that made you the most money each year was walking away from the prospect whose budget was too tight, and expectations, too large. Your Make-or-Break might be gross margin per labor dollar.
You are a web design firm focused on industrial manufacturing firms in the US. Virtually all your business comes from referrals. Ninety percent of your clients are members of the largest trade association that serves this marketplace. Your Make-or-Break might be referrals.
If you look at these examples, you will see Make-or-Break generally involves what causes sales to happen. The one exception was the general contractor who had more opportunity than capacity. In that case, the Make-or-Break involved maximizing revenue on the customers the company chooses to do business with.
To find your Make-or-Break, map the activities in your sales process. Begin with your outbound marketing, and end with a closed sale.
Here is an example:
ERT Manufacturing worked with their executive team and sales team to map their sales process. In a group meeting, they considered measures throughout the process and came to the consensus that some measure around referrals and customer survey as Make-or-Break.
By tracking the source of new business, they knew most of their business came from referrals. What they didn’t like about referrals received as their Make-or-Break was that it wasn’t an activity they directly controlled.
They next considered tracking the activities the team used to encourage referrals. The downside to these measures is that most of them occurred spontaneously in one-on-one meetings with customers. The team believed that getting the sales and customer service team to report good measures on these activities would be an exercise in futility. If they couldn’t find another measure that was easier to track, they’d revisit this.
Tracking customer survey results would be easy, and simple to do. What wasn’t clear was if the survey results predicted referrals. They decided to give it a shot and see. After a few months of tracking both survey results and referrals, the graphs clearly showed that the composite survey results directly predicted referrals. They had found their Make-or-Break.
Once you know your Make-or-Break, treat it like any other key measure. Set monthly and annual goals for your Make-or-Break, and monitor your progress toward those goals. Quickly respond to positive shifts in your Make-or-Break metrics to keep the momentum of what you are doing. Respond quickly to negative shifts in your Make-or-Break by isolating the cause of the breakdown and taking corrective action.