Episode 203: How to check the “vitals” in your business, with Stephen Woessner.
Stephen is the CEO of Predictive ROI and the host of the Onward Nation podcast. He is the author of two bestselling books, speaker, trainer, and his digital marketing insights have been featured in SUCCESS, Entrepreneur, The Washington Post, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, and other media.
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Good Morning Onward Nation — and I hope you are having a rock solid awesome, Wednesday and that you are making consistent and steady progress toward your vital priorities for the week. And how can this be the last week in March already? We will close out the first quarter of 2016 tomorrow and then launch into second quarter strong.
And one of the ways we can be sure to end our quarters strong — and our years right on track — is to pay very close attention to our vital priorities, our vital functions and our vital metrics.
All of which are lessons I learned directly from one of my most influential mentors…Darren Hardy, former publisher of SUCCESS Magazine.
“Vitals” are top of the mind awareness for me right now because I just spent 2-½ days in Palm Beach with Darren and 20 other business owners from fast-growth companies where we focused on getting to that next level — and vital metrics plays a critical role.
An amazing — yet mentally exhausting experience!
And no joke, Onward Nation, within the first 30-minutes of meeting this elite group, I wrote in the upper left corner of the first page in my notebook, “I am the dumbest person in the room — this is definitely the right group for me.”
Why? Because you need to be in a group that challenges you. That doesn’t let you get by with the status quo — or zero growth. We all need to be pushed and put under pressure — because that is where the growth is. And that is what Darren has always done for me when we spend time together — he pushes me.
So during this solocast, I am going to share the story about how I first met Darren and then take you through vital priorities, vital functions, and vital metrics and then we will wrap up with a 33 question quiz — or assessment — you can use to evaluate the vitals in your business to determine your readiness to move onward to that next level.
Okay, let’s dive in.
Darren Hardy, former publisher and founding editor of SUCCESS Magazine has been one of the most influential mentors in my business and life. I met Darren when I was invited to attend one of his original High-Performance Forums at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California.
I was one of 23 CEOs of fast-growth companies invited to spend two and a half days with Darren and the other CEOs. We spent the time together working through the latest in sales and marketing strategies with some intense masterminding.
Gulp. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. The imposter syndrome attempted to stop me from completing the application, booking my travel, from getting on the plane, checking into my hotel room, and actually making it to the conference room the next day.
The room Darren booked for our sessions overlooked the majestic Torrey Pines golf course, which has played host to the US Open and other prestigious events. I felt grossly out of my league.
I later learned from Darren that all of the signs of trepidation I was feeling were not reasons to turn and run – but instead – were indicators I was doing the right thing. Success would follow if I had the courage to push through the resistance. Steve Rodgers, the former CEO of Prudential Real Estate, shared this brilliant statement with me during our Onward Nation interview, “Resistance is part of the chemistry of success.” Steve went on to tell me that the amount of resistance one feels regarding a particular course of action, product rollout, new hire, or the internal debate whether their company should launch a new marketing strategy, is a direct reflection of the amount of payoff at the end of the tunnel.
Being there to meet Darren and the other CEOs was exactly the right place for me to be. In fact, Darren even boldly said to us within the first several minutes, that there was no more valuable place on the planet any of us could be then with that group for the next several days as it relates to growing our businesses. Spot on.
I began to get my sea legs under me after the first morning and lunch. My confidence began to build when I learned that others in the room were struggling with the same constraints and challenges facing my business.
Wait…What? These business rock stars were people, too? By dinner that evening – I was feeling like I deserved to be there.
By the time the weekend was over, Darren had accepted my invitation to speak at an upcoming live event Predictive ROI was hosting. Darren and I also worked out an agreement for him to join our board of advisors for 12-months where he would personally mentor me on growing our business and new directions we ought to consider. It was the most intense 12-months of my business career. However, it was exactly what I needed to learn despite the process being challenging and sometimes painful. A great mentor pushes even when the last thing you want is to be pushed.
At Darren’s forum is where I met Don Yaeger, 9-time New York Times bestselling author, owner of three companies, outstanding man of faith, devoted husband, and one of the most rock star fathers I have seen in action. Don and I became accountability partners following that weekend and agreed to call each other every Friday morning at 7:30 a.m. to report our Wins, Losses, AH-HAs, and Fixes. We have maintained that weekly accountability for nearly four years and Don has become one of my best friends and trusted advisors. Don is also writing the Foreword to the book I am currently working on. The imposter syndrome tried to cheat me out of this relationship, too.
Darren used a portion of the forum to teach all of us about the importance of our “Success Vitals.” What were they? How to measure them? How to assess our current business health? The lessons I learned were so impactful and have added so much value into Predictive ROI and our ability to generate revenue from Onward Nation that I wanted to devote this solocast to sharing the most relevant insights.
My hope for you is that this solocast will help bring into focus what I often refer to as the Vital Metrics controlling the growth of a business. I learned the Vital Metrics principle directly from Darren. Our “vitals” represent a snapshot and oftentimes a visualization regarding the overall health of your business at any given moment. The metaphor Darren used when teaching this lesson to me was, “Stephen, think about if you went to the emergency room because you had a severe leg injury from a car accident. Would the medical team in the ER start your treatment by taking care of your leg? Or, would they first check your vitals – your pulse, check your breathing, check your eyes for trauma, check your abdomen for internal bleeding, and so on?”
A medical team knows the importance of completing an immediate diagnostic of a patient’s vital signs to ensure some underlying life-threatening trauma has not taken place before they address what seems to be the injury affecting a patient. Otherwise, the team could direct their attention to setting a cast on my leg and then I die because of a punctured lung. My wounded lung likely would have been found by checking my breathing during those critically important first few seconds.
I will review our comprehensive Evaluation of Predictive Success Metrics (EPSM) as a tool for you to complete later in today’s solocast. Your score will give you a snapshot view of the sales and marketing vitals in your business.
Why is your score within the EPSM important? This evaluation will help you diagnose any critical areas that may need attending to before an inflow of new leads and sales opportunities flow into your business. In addition, your result outcomes / score may indicate several corrective actions that need to be addressed so your marketing strategy has the highest probability of success.
The corrective actions are also important because increasing the flow of leads and sales into an inefficient, ineffective, or absent system within your business is a recipe that could spell disaster. More companies go out of business from indigestion from too much opportunity than from starvation from the lack of opportunity. Having the right systems in place at the outset is essential to your long success.
Let’s first begin with several definitions to make sure we get the terminology right.
We will focus on: Vital Priorities, Vital Functions, and Vital Metrics.
I will show you how to identify the five or six most relevant Vital Metrics you need to pay close attention to in order to ensure your overall sales and marketing strategies are turning your business into what I like to call a “Sales Generating Machine”.
The first term we need to define it Vital Priorities. What are they and why they are…vital?
Let’s think of Vital Priorities as your big goals over the next 12-months – and if you didn’t accomplish anything else – the year would have still been a major success because your Vital Priorities were checked off the list. Conversely, the rest of the year would not have mattered if you didn’t accomplish these vital few.
That is the importance of Vital Priorities. What are the Vital Priorities in your business right now?
Then there are the Vital Functions. These are the skills – the processes – the talents you possess that make you the best person inside your company at a certain set of tasks and projects. Vital Functions are the tasks you cannot delegate – you cannot hire out. Not only because you are so good at them – but because you drive the growth of your business by being the one who performs the Functions.
For minister Joel Osteen, his singular Vital Function is delivering the 27-minute sermon on Sunday at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. He used to try and manage the lights, the audio, the editing, and the myriad of other details that went along with producing a high-quality broadcast. But then he realized, the growth of their ministry was driven by one single metric. Was he excellent on Sunday? And if yes, they would grow. He delegated the rest of the tasks because they were not his Vital Function. He now invests four days of his week in focusing on his one Vital Function. Can he delegate the sermon to someone one? No, it’s a vitally important function – therefore, it remains as Joel’s Vital Function.
Take a moment to consider your Vital Functions. What functions are critically important to the success of your business and cannot be delegated away? Resist the temptation to let yourself say things like bookkeeping, answering the phone, emailing customers, preparing proposals, and a variety of other functions. Are all of those important? Yes. Are they vital? Yes. Can they be delegated? Yes!
What are you world-class at – or could become world-class at if you dedicated the right amount of focus – and if you achieved world-class proficiency – would move the business along a completely different trajectory? The answers are your Vital Functions.
Then there are the Vital Metrics. These metrics are how you will quantifiably measure your success toward accomplishing your Vital Priorities.
Before I share the Vital Metrics with you – let me try to preempt a question that tends to hook business owners and prevent them from moving forward. Oftentimes a business owner will say to me, “Stephen, this sounds great but I have people on my team who are in charge of these metrics. Why do I need to care about these? I don’t want to learn this stuff and I certainly don’t want this to become my Vital Function.”
Excellent question and here’s what I want you to consider. You don’t need to be the one who pulls the levers or turns the knobs – these metrics do not need to become your Vital Functions – but if you don’t pay attention to them or care about them, no one else will, at least not as closely as you would.
I asked Avinash Kaushik, digital marketing evangelist for Google the same question, and his answer was, “Stephen, it’s because if you care about it — and you understand it — then you will be rich. But if you just dump it on someone else’s lap, then you will be poor. That should be incentive enough.” Well, said Avinash.
In my opinion, there are six Vital Metrics you need to consistently monitor as it relates to the result outcomes of your marketing strategy. And they are:
- Change (increase / decrease) in unique website visitors to your website
- Change (increase / decrease) in conversion rate of unique website visitors into email optins (list building to be used to increase size of your audience)
- Change (increase / decrease) in conversion rate of email optins into leads
- Change (increase / decrease) in conversion rate of leads into proposals
- Change (increase / decrease) in conversion rate of proposals into sales
- Total revenue for your business
Are you currently tracking and monitoring vital metrics similar to these in your business?
If you are, WELL DONE!
You and your business may already be a superstar at growing revenue from your marketing strategy. But if you’re not already paying attention to these vital metrics, the quiz or assessment I am about to share with you will help guide you through making the necessary adjustments so you can put precise checklists and ROI Scorecards into place to ensure a regular rhythm of evaluation.
Are you ready to take your evaluation of your vitals even deeper?
Here’s what I like to call our Evaluation of Predictive Success Metrics (EPSM) as a tool to provide a snapshot view of the sales and marketing “vitals” in any business.
This evaluation will help diagnose any critical areas that may need attending to before an inflow of new leads and sales opportunities flow into your business. Just answer the questions and then tally your score at the end.
I am going to review all 33 questions with you now.
So tally up your score. How did you do?
If you scored between 33 – 50 points…ugh. But no problem — this quiz will be a great guide for you.
If you scored between 51 – 75…congratulations…solid foundation…and the sky’s the limit.
If you scored between 76 – 85…You feel that? It’s Momentum — and it feels awesome!
And if you scored 86 – 99…rock solid awesome…you better send me an email because I want to interview you on Onward Nation! WOW!
So with that…I want to thank you again for taking the time to be here with me today. It is an honor to have you here — thank you for tuning in — I am delighted you chose this episode to be what you listen to, study, and take with you on your morning run, or maybe Onward Nation has become part of your daily commute, or in some other way has become part of your morning routine.
However our daily podcast fits into your daily routine — I want you to know how much I appreciate you sharing some of your invaluable 86,400 seconds you have in your day with me and the strategies we learn and share each day from today’s top business owners.
And please continue to let me know what you think of Onward Nation…good or bad…I always want your feedback. My direct email address is firstname.lastname@example.org — and yes — that is my actual Inbox. No fancy filters or filing system and I read and reply to every single email.
So please let me know how you think we are doing. I look forward to hearing from you.
We will be back tomorrow with an incredible interview with Heather Ann Havenwood — and she shares an inspirational story of how she got back to building again after overcoming several very significant challenges in her way. You will not want to miss this discussion, Onward Nation!
Until then, onward with gusto!