Critical Success Factors: Things That Determine Your Success 

Posted by:admin onFebruary 28, 2017

success business puzzles

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”

                                                                        – Norman Vincent Peal

Every industry has its performance areas where things must be done correctly if the business is to flourish. They are sometimes referred to as Critical Success Factors (CSF), and business owners must give them continual attention, if they are to produce, and maintain, high levels of performance.

For example, a surgeon must have a high level of expertise in every aspect of surgery – from the initial incision to the final suturing, and all the steps in between.

Critical Success Factors are the crucial things you do that determine your firm’s success or failure. They are specific activities, from which specific outcomes are expected.

Top professionals typically employ three to five performance-related CSFs, usually from the following:

  1. Sales capabilities: Ability to acquire new business and retain existing business.
  2. Sales leadership: Development of sales plans; recruitment and development of top talent.
  3. Service: Workflow management; positive and proactive relationships with suppliers.
  4. Team Management: Annual business planning process; ability to create and promote a culture of accountability.
  5. Financial Management: Focus on revenue growth and profitability.

The Sales Effectiveness Worksheet, below, is a tool to help you rate your firm’s performance across these four performance areas. It uses a scale from 1 (poor) to 10 (excellent), to assign a rating for each area.

 Sales effectiveness worksheet

Performance areas: Rating: 1-10
Sales capabilities  
· We have our own selling system or process.

· We have an ideal client profile.

· The majority of new business is from a referral or introduction.

· There is a plan to convert part-time clients into 100% full-time clients.

· We have developed expertise in one, or more, niche markets.

Sales leadership
·  We have established new business and retention goals.

· There is a strong culture of accountability.

·  We can track and monitor our sales pipeline.

·  We regularly identify and recruit new talent.

·  There is a program in place to coach and develop sales talent.

Service and Team management
·  We hold weekly meetings between sales and service teams.

·  There is a formal retention program for key accounts.

·  We use automation to manage the sales pipeline and leads.

·  All workflows and processes are documented.

·  We have dedicated niche market service teams.

Financial management
·  Plans are in place to manage annual income and profits.

·  We manage our account receivables.

·  There is contingency income for the business.

·  We manage financial relationships with suppliers.

· We have established key performance indicators for key accounts.

  • Scan each of the categories and select any areas that apply.
  • Identify your three highest priorities.
  • Any areas assessed at a 1 or 2 should automatically become a priority for further development and improvement.

Your weakest Critical Success factor can limit your performance in other areas.  Your firm might have excellent Sales leadership, Service, and Team management, but might score three out of ten in Sales capabilities. In that case, one critical success factor alone could determine your long-term success or failure.

Top performers continually focus on excellence in every area, which is why they are able to produce superior results, regardless of the state of the market or the economy.

©Clifton Warren, 2017


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