Talking to Your Board, Investors and Key Stakeholders in 2012

As this year comes to an end, next year’s sales numbers and January board presentations are looming large for many company leaders. In the midst of all the holiday festivities, now is an important time to consider what and how to communicate to your board, investors and key stakeholders, particularly when the economic picture may not be completely rosy and your company may continue to face the challenges of those economic realities. Still, despite these challenges, January presents many opportunities to build confidence in your understanding of the market, and in how your company can capitalize on those changing market dynamics.

To talk effectively about the market with your board, investors and other stakeholders, it is critical to start at the macro level and share hard numbers about the education industry as a whole. For instance, you could begin with some of the numbers shared by Michael Moe during his presentation “American Revolution 2.0: How Innovation is Transforming Education” at November’s SIIA Ed Tech Forum in New York. Moe highlights that although education represented 8.7% of America’s GDP in 2010, it only accounted for 0.8% of venture capital investments and 0.2% of capital markets. Thirty years ago, the medical industry represented about 10% of GDP and 3% of market capitalization, but those figures today are much more in line with each other – demonstrating the enormous investment potential also present in the education industry. Of course, it is also critical to communicate clearly about the challenges in the market, along with the opportunities. Ultimately, showing a strong understanding of the overall market allows you to effectively drill down to your own company’s position in the marketplace.

Once you present the economic realities, you can then focus on communicating how your company is going to reach your market. Too often, companies concentrate on their product offering at the expense of showing how they can effectively reach the market they need to reach. Instead, focus on communicating how your company is investing and prioritizing potential customers. Do you know how many customers can write a $10,000 check for your product next year? What are you planning to do in 2012 to be part of the customer’s decision making process at the right time? Be as specific as possible – identify your 10 or 15 prospects and information on who makes decisions, when they make decisions and where that money is coming from. Check out our slide on sales cycle and distribution for thoughts on how to analyze your top customers.

Finally, you need to highlight your leadership team – strengths, weaknesses and whether you have the right people in the right positions. Show that you have the team in place that understands the market, the product and how to reach the market. While showcasing your products to investors, board members and key stakeholders is obviously important, your company will demonstrate its real strength through your leadership team, your knowledge of the market and your plan to reach your key customers in 2012.