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A technology services company CEO recently asked me to list, off the top of my head, five goals he should be sure his team includes in the 2004 company plan. I told him what I would tell most other companies in this industry. Resolution 1. We will improve real and perceived value enough to justify at least a 20% price increase by the end of the year. Too many companies (and their investors) are focused on revenue growth at the expense of healthy margins, and the equation should be flipped. Increase margins in order to fund and enable top-line growth.

Price is rarely the real issue in a selling situation – the problem is usually lack of differentiated, adequate value. Focus this year on how to increase the value of what you provide vis-à-vis competitive alternatives in order to justify price increases that new and existing clients are happy to accommodate.

Resolution 2. We will increase revenues by at least 20% among 80% of existing clients.

Read how you can dominate your niche. See Theresa Lina Stevens’ IT Guide to Market Dominance. We know it intellectually and yet fail to apply it in practice: The best, most profitable business is business you already have. Yet most technology services companies still put the majority of their sales and marketing investment into new customer acquisition. Develop a plan for how you will further penetrate the companies you already serve, either by expanding into additional business units or broadening the services you provide to existing buyers.

The percentages I mention above are somewhat arbitrary; do an analysis and figure out which clients have genuine growth potential and set a target; drop the others. And this leads us to our next goal…

Resolution 3. Every client relationship will be profitable or strategic.

Do a thorough profitability analysis. Be sure to factor in allocations for overall marketing expenditures, selling costs, training and personnel administration, and the investment required to manage and administer the account and your business in general.If you are honest with yourself, you will probably realize that 40-60% of your clients are either unprofitable or barely breakeven. Some of these may have strategic value that makes them worth keeping anyway (e.g., marquee reference or publicity value; beta site for a new service or the development of intellectual property; foot in the door of a large, high-potential account). Others either need to become profitable or go. But instead of immediately dumping them, tell them what’s going on.

You might be surprised to find they are willing to help fix the problem by either paying slightly more or expecting less. If they aren’t, help them find an alternative provider. Whatever you do, don’t burn a bridge or leave them in the lurch. It’s a small world.

Resolution 4. We will narrow our target market enough to achieve 10% market share within five years.

On the surface, this goal sounds counterintuitive. But if your target market is too broad for the size company you could ever hope to become, you will never become a market leader and achieve sustainable, high-margin growth. You will always be a relatively small, commodity player with shrinking margins.Ten percent here is only a guideline, but the point is that you need to aim to be a big fish in your pond. As you grow, your pond (target market) can grow. Start with an appropriately narrow market, become known and profitable within that market, and then expand into related markets.

Resolution 5. We will develop a strategy and target positioning that establishes us as the Go-To Source within our target market.

As the saying goes, if you try to be all things to all people, you will be nothing to anyone. You must find a way to be uniquewith defensible, obvious differentiation that speaks to an urgent market problem. You want to become the Go-To that people seek out. Otherwise, you are a Me-Too. And Me-Too’s go out of business as soon as supply exceeds demand. Defining a Go-To market position is not a trivial task. Designate a formal internal strategy initiative, fund it, and spend whatever time it takes to research market needs, lay out your Go-To market position, and test it in the marketplace.Imagine what life would be like if you achieved even just a couple of these goals in the next year. Higher margins would enable strategic and tactical investments in talent, intellectual property, acquisitions, strategic partnerships, marketing and other initiatives. Revenue growth would excite your investors and give clients confidence in your long-term viability. A more visible market presence and clear positioning would allow you to stand out and effortlessly attract new business.

These are five specific goals you can set to help you on your way. There are lots of other ways to get there. But one way or another, resolve to make it happen.

Theresa Lina Stevens specializes in market dominance strategy and marketing for IT and professional services companies. She is CEO of Lina Group Inc., which helps clients gain and sustain a unique and high-profit, high-growth market position through a proprietary approach called the Apollo Method for Market Dominance. You can reach her at or click here to visit the Lina Group website.