As Simon Sinek, author, speaker, and third most watched TED talk speaker of all time once said, “Entrepreneurs must be practical experts. They needn't set out to be subject matter experts in what they do; they must set out to solve a problem or pursue some cause or purpose greater than themselves.” You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to be a practical thinker, and much of that practical thinking comes from asking questions. After all, marching confidently into the future requires a solid foundation for that empire you’re building.
That’s why Sage Live recently launched a new e-book, Futureproof Your Company Now: A Step-by-Step Guide, dedicated to exploring the types of innovative, evolving technologies that will accommodate the business of the future.
Based on this e-book and future-focused thinking, here’s a look at 18 questions to ask yourself in order to seize the future today.
Not only is your mission your elevator pitch, but it should include your guiding principles, business philosophy, and company goals in a clear, empowering way. Customer service expert and author Shep Hyken shared a great mission statement in a recent Salesforce webcast. Ritz-Carlton’s nine-word mission statement: "We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen." It’s clear, it’s a brand promise, and best of all, it’s nine words.
1. Do you have all of the information you need to make smart decisions?
2. Does your mission statement allow for room to grow?
3. Do you have the information to predict where you’ll be in a year? Three years?
Do you have a clear picture of where your company fits in the world? Understanding your value proposition and the competitive landscape is essential.
4. Do you offer enough differentiation from your competitors to be successful two or five years from now?
5. How do you stay ahead with technology?
6. Do new technologies have buy-in from your entire team?
The way your organization is structured plays a huge role in how your day-to-day business operates. Consider multiple organizational structures and formats as you build your business, and be open to change. For instance, CloudCraze shared in a recent article that they run a flat organization, in which any employee can approach the CEO and executives at any time. “We do not have layers. You can get to the right person, and get a decision quickly,” shared Phil Weinmeister, Salesforce MVP and Product Director of Customer Engagement at CloudCraze. “This dramatically reduces the time needed to deliver on a task or project.”
7. Is your organizational structure related to the way your current and future staff works and wants to work?
8. Have you considered a horizontal versus vertical organizational structure?
9. Is your organization aligned to focus on delivering customer value at critical points of customer interaction (marketing, sales, support)?
Oftentimes the marketing mindset is of the moment, focused on getting the message out today or tomorrow. These are good intentions, and often translate to measurable results. However, how is the marketing you’re doing now going to impact the business in the future? How is it contributing to the bottom line? These are tough questions to answer because it’s outside of living in the moment, but they help your business in the long run.
10. Are you testing new approaches in your marketing strategy?
11. Can you measure your marketing programs and efforts?
12. With so many technologies and apps, how do you ensure you’re choosing the right one?
Customer service is more than a department; it should be seen as a culture. Hyken sees customer service as a philosophy that has to be embraced by every person in the company, and technology must play a huge role as well.
13. How do you infuse the culture of service throughout an organization?
14. With the use of technology rising, how do you ensure the human element is present?
15. Do you look at insights and data with actionable outcomes to add value to the customer's experience?
As sales leader Anthony Iannarino shared in this post, “Promoting continuous focus on helping your customer solve their key problems is always a winning strategy.” Not only should you be asking your prospects the most powerful questions to address their challenges, but you should be asking yourself powerful questions as well.
16. When it comes to the potential customer, are you selling or helping?
17. What top sales priorities are you engaged in now, and are they the right ones?
18. What will happen if you don’t meet your timelines or quotas?