By Robert Craven, MD at Directors Centre

Success is always a hot issue. What is it? How do you achieve it? How do you know when you have achieved it?

Just had a meeting with some clients. In the middle of their long, drawn-out debates it seems that they had missed out on the basics of the “success formula”. This is what they missed:

Success = decisions + actions + accountability = results and outcomes/benefits

Success, at its simplest, is about following through (according to its Greek origins).

As well as doing all the good business planning stuff there is a need for your team to:

- Make the tough decisions - what you are going to do?
- Take action based on the decisions - doing it.
- Be accountable - who are you going to report to? (to make sure you do it). What are the penalties and rewards for success/failure?
- Deliver the results and associated outcomes and benefits.

One client quoted some mid-Atlantic author who talks about passion and the will of the spirit and the karma of knowing your goal and meditating on it (puke puke).

It was time for a wake-up call.

After they realised the vacuous nature of the philosophy (why should wanting something to happen make it happen?) they sat down and discussed how and why they got results.

- What was it that made them different from the competition?
- What was it that their clients loved about them?
- What was it that couldn't be copied?
- What was it that added "awesome value” (their words) for their clients?

A new one-page plan was created with clear, measurable actions distributed. Everyone was to report in to the MD on Friday afternoon. All successes were to be celebrated. A new "quick 'n' dirty" marketing and sales plan was put into action within seven days. Every single existing and past client was contacted with a compelling proposition or white paper document that demonstrated how working with the agency would deliver clear results for the client.

Eight weeks since our meeting, the numbers tell the story. The pipeline is bigger, the proposal hit rate is better; the order book is fuller than it has been for nearly a year.