Selling Microsoft

How Do You Rate?

Here's a balanced scorecard for your company's performance.

It's January 2006. Do you know where your company is? Chances are that, every year around this time, you assess how your organization is doing. You probably consider factors such as past successes, areas needing improvement and, most importantly, where you're headed.

Over the next year, I'll cover a series of topics intended to help boost your organization's performance. My goal is that by January 2007, your company will have exceeded your sales goals for this year.

Of course, it's helpful to have a tool to track your progress. From working with hundreds of Microsoft partners over the past eight years, we've developed a list of traits and values that characterize successful organizations. Grading your company against this list can provide a quick snapshot of how you're doing.

Topic Rating
Corporate culture is deep and consistent
Business strategies come first
Business development effectiveness is essential
The best practices are consistent within my organization
Sales is a corporate priority
Structured process is key to success and we are focused in all departments
Teamwork prevails in all departments
Training and recruitment are critically important to our success
Compensation is linked to corporate objectives
Corporate image and branding is important
Key to Scorecard Results Total Score
Minor tuning may be needed 45-50
Improvement needed in specific areas 33-44
Multiple issues require prompt action 19-32
Problems organization-wide need immediate attention 0-18

Our scorecard isn't arranged to indicate any priority of importance. However, for accurate results, you should ask "How would my employees or other management team members score the organization on these topics?" and consider their likely responses, as well as your own, in your answer. (Tip: This quiz could be a great exercise for your next management meeting.)

Grade your organization on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best. If you rate your company as a 5 in a particular area, it means that you feel you've done everything possible to excel in that category. A rating of 3 indicates that you're making progress on addressing issues in this area; a 1 means that you know you're in trouble! Take a moment now to compile your ratings.

Based upon your scores, the next questions you need to answer are: What are you going to do to achieve improvement where it's most needed -- and how and when are you going to do it?

From working with Microsoft partners, we know that many need to address several scorecard issues, but aren't sure where to start. They need to focus on a specific action plan for making change.

I like to use pizza to illustrate the most effective approach. We all can easily describe our vision for the perfect pizza. We can see it and smell it; our mouths water at the mere thought of it. Your vision for your business should be at least that real. But, like a pizza, the list above is also divided into many "slices:Ó that is, topics that need to be addressed. And, as with a pizza, you're probably best off tackling just one slice at a time.

If you rated your company low in several categories, pick just one. Focus on fixing that segment for the next 30 to 60 days. Then choose another area to address for another month or two. Meanwhile, keep this column handy so that in, say, July, you can check your progress. When you take the test for the again next January, you're likely to be amazed at how far your company has come. Between now and then, watch this column for ideas to help you along the way.

About the Author

Ken Thoreson is managing director of the Acumen Management Group Ltd., a North American consulting organization focused on improving sales management functions within growing and transitional organizations. You can reach him at