Knowing how to qualify sales leads is a critical skill that every company needs and wants. But just as important is knowing how to qualify your company for success using objective criteria. Is it ready for prime time? Hundreds of solutions have been developed over the years to assist in this process, but often these systems do not provide company leaders with the specific types of information they need to drive their company’s business development. There are three essential drivers that we have discovered that are worth the time and effort to leverage.

1) Know your purpose

The most important questions any company needs to know the answers to are, “Why do we exist and what do we do better than all other companies in our market and niche? The reason your customers will want to do business with you is because you are the answer, not just an answer, to their specific needs. So often companies in their haste to build their companies ignore what it is that will lead them to their swiftest growth: their particular unique selling advantage. Being able to do something that no other company can, and this will set you apart, with the understanding that your customer actually needs what you offer.

2) Know your brand

Extremely large companies engage in defining how well their brands are communicated, designed, and understood by their customers. Smaller companies often regard strategic planning and brand development as a luxury that only very large companies can afford. We have found those companies rarely make it out of the condition they call their ‘survival mode.’ Actually, this condition is better defined as self-imprisonment because it is self-induced. Strong strategic planning and branding is as important for a one-person company with a personal brand as a 1 million-employee company with a corporate brand.

3) Know your customers

When was the last time you formally surveyed your customers to determine their level of satisfaction with your company and whether their needs have changed in any way? Simply taking the time to conduct this discovery work speaks volumes to your customers that you have a company that is well managed and interested in their needs. Using a professional firm that is expert in customer research is often engaged to bring a higher level of objectivity to both your company and your customers. Again, research is often thought of as the fare of larger companies and this misconception can endanger a company.

Smart companies put as many of their resources into their business development as they can. Part of this development includes a strategy spend to inform them of their strong and weak points and implement a program of continuous improvement that builds their future. This type of continuous investment helps explain why some companies succeed while others fail.