The world’s information is doubling every two years according to a survey by EMC and IDC. The number is 1.8 zettabytes. Or as the mashable social media blog stated last year that’s 57.5 Billion iPads (32GB) worth of stored data. Or in dollars, that’s $34 trillion or the combined GDP of US, Japan, UK, Germany, France, Italy and China!

You see the problem with this environment is that we start to look at the wrong stuff, too much stuff, any stuff!

We’ve stopped asking the really smart questions. Look at the technology at our fingertips to analyze our businesses: Intuit accounting software, Eloqua lead tracking software, SalesForce reports, Google analytics, Excel Pivot Tables, 37 Signals Project Management Software. Literally 1000’s of great software programs waiting to be deployed often free or under $1000.

So stand back and ask the questions first, then set your team up to find answers.

Here are my top 30 questions to ask yourself, to really get your arms around the operations of your business:


  1. Who are the top ten public and private competitors in my unique market by sales and what are their sales per employee and profit per employee?
  2. What sales growth have they produced over the last 5 years?
  3. What marketing campaigns produced the highest ROI in 2011?
  4. What market share of my customers spend did my products achieve in 2011? eg Customer A spends $2m on IT and you sold them $200k of IT services therefore you achieved a 10% market share.
  5. What is my market share by vertical sectors?  eg automotive sector, aerospace etc
  6. What does my Pie Chart of  sales for 2011 by industry sector look like and has it changed over the last 5 years?
  7. How does lead generation compare over the last 5 years?
  8. Can I compare all sales professionals performance against their performance for last year by product?
  9. How did the weighted pipeline of sales for 2011 by quarter compare with Targets and 2010?
  10. How do I know our sales scripts are synchronized with our positioning statement of who we are?
  11. How does the annual earnings of my top 10 sales professionals compare between 2011 v 2010?
  12. What are my 5 worst performing products by total sales and what does that analysis look like by salesperson and by region?
  13. What are my 5 highest growth products by sales and how much R&D expenditure is allocated to their Product Road Map?
  14. What are the launch dates in 2012 of my new products or features and what impact will they have on the top line?
  15. How do I know that all our product road maps are consistent with our market positioning and strategy?
  16. How do we test the sales and marketing teams  knowledge of our products?
  17. How do we onboard new staff and how do we know it is working?
  18. How do we onboard new customers and how we know it is effective?
  19. What is the protocol for finding , interviewing and acquiring new talent?
  20. What is the protocol for developing staff throughout their career with us?
  21. What are the main volume and yield drivers that explain our 2011 P&L performance against 2010 and budget?
  22. What are the trend lines for trailing 12 graphs (every data point in the graph represents 12 months) covering the last 3 years for all sales lines and major cost categories?
  23. How do the major cost lines compare as a % of sales over the last 3 years?
  24. What is the trend line for Accounts Receivable over the last 12 months?
  25. How does profit/cash generation as a % compare by quarter for last year?
  26. What was the profitability by product for 2011?
  27. What internal control weaknesses were identified during the 2010 audit and what progress has been made in 2011?
  28. What were the 5 main projects we committed to achieve in 2011 and how did we do and why?
  29. What are the top 10 exposures in successfully completing the 2012 budget and what’s Plan B?
  30. How will I spot major changes in trends and business models in my marketplace in 2012?
Clearly this just an initial list to get you started but the key is to go on the offensive not just allow stuff to be measured because it can!

The Portfolio Partnership is working inside some very successful companies to execute operational blueprints that answers these and many more questions. Reach out for a chat.