What to do when you need growth delivered
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In the new economic climate, some businesses may not survive if they do not grow substantially.
So does your business need a step change? Do you need to deliver growth?
Achieving growth can be a real challenge in today’s economic environment and highly competitive global economy.
But of course, it’s not just about achieving ‘any old growth’; the old adage ‘Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity’ is as true today, perhaps more so, than it has ever been.
So for any business that is looking to achieve growth, for that growth to be sustainable, the business has to plan to achieve profitable growth, where gross and net profit margins are protected; so that they are available to be reinvested back into the business to support further growth.
To achieve profitable growth, a business that is serious about growth should:
- lay out a systematic process to achieve growth as cost effectively as possible; and then,
- measure and manage the process to make sure it happens.
And whatever measures you want to use, whether it’s return on investment, cost of customer acquisition or customer lifetime value, this Galen Partners Business Guide can help you.
What do you need to do to deliver profitable growth?
To be successful, companies need to focus on acquiring, engaging and satisfying the most profitable customers.
Maximising your profits and retaining the customers you want comes from looking to identify, attract and work with those customers who are the ‘right fit’ for your business. And which ones are they? They are the customers that you want, the ones that are profitable, that are low maintenance, who aren’t just buying on price but appreciate value and will pay for high service levels.
So to ensure that profitable growth is delivered here are twelve suggestions you might want to consider:
1 Profile and segment your customers and potential customers
Investing time and energy in focusing on profiling and identifying your ideal customer will help you to start to identify the customers and targets who are a good fit, from whom you will make money, and those who aren’t. Once you know how and why you and they fit together, then you can design packaged offers, tailored to the decision makers and purchasers within these target organisations in each segment of your market, so:
- Know who are your most profitable customers and acquire more business from them. Service them to the hilt!
- Define what type(s) of companies will be your most profitable customers in the future.
- Work out how you will engage them…
- …and bed them down so that they stay with you forever.
- Make sure that they become advocates and refer you to new profitable customers.
2 Focus on generating the right leads for you
Financial pressures can lead sales and marketing teams to generate large quantities of low grade unqualified leads.
These are often actually counter productive and can in fact put even more financial pressure on the company as:
- not only are these leads not going to be profitable customers,
- they are actually a drain on your scarce human resource using up time and energy that could be much better targeted at winning the customers you do want.
Work out who you want to sell to, and concentrate on going after them.
3 Understand your customers and their buying processes
Look to understand as far as possible what your target customers’ buying patterns, purchase consideration criteria, and tender or purchasing processes are – the how they are going to buy – before you try to sell to them.
These factors will vary significantly from sector to sector and knowing what customer buttons, functional or emotional, need to be pushed to achieve a sale will help you achieve, and keep achieving, more of them.
4 Have a structured plan for contacting and engaging with your customers
You have a wide range of tools you can use to engage with your customers including, for example, PR, advertising, social media, direct mail, event coordination, networking and direct sales.
So tactically and strategically, what is the most cost effective mix of these approaches for your business to use so that sales are converted more quickly and customer loyalty is created?
Create a marketing plan to generate leads and then nurture these into a pipeline of sales, managing your sales funnel for maximum results.
5 Ensure your sales and marketing activities are consistent and co-ordinated
Ensure that the opportunities created by your marketing and promotion are fully exploited by your sales staff, and make sure your sales staff reflect what is put across in your marketing and promotional materials.
6 Invest in being a farmer as well as a hunter
Generating new customers is an art form that all companies need.
But many revenue hungry, sales orientated companies sometimes forget the all important steps of ensuring the customer is satisfied with what they have bought and then maximising the value of the relationship created to seek not only repeat, but referred sales.
The type of strong word of mouth generated by good customer service and loyalty reward programmes can generate huge returns in sales for little further marketing investment.
7 Have an effective sales process
Much time, energy, resource and focus is currently being given to online marketing effectiveness, social media and search engine optimisation (SEO) in order to make contact with potential customers.
But just having lots of hits isn’t enough. Hits are not profits.
Businesses have to have an effective sales process that naturally guides the prospect all the way through the sales steps, along the pipeline, down the funnel and around the referral and re-buying loops, to become a loyal customer and advocate.
8 Develop new channels
Existing products and services can often be sold into new channels and sectors resulting in relatively substantial increases in revenues by exploiting a new market, rather than simply seeking incremental growth in an existing one.
To sell into a new channel will require some investment into marketing to this channel which may involve, for example, developing the existing brand or creating a specific sub-brand.
9 Consider expanding internationally
Developing an export business can be a good way to generate business growth but driving sales internationally requires patience and a long term view grounded on strong market research and rigorous test selling and test marketing.
Setting up direct overseas by taking on premises and hiring staff is a risky process.
So It is often far better to adopt a step by step approach, by first recruiting, training, motivating, monitoring and managing local agents or partners as an initial step, using them to generate sales and cash flow that can then justify a formal expansion.
Specialist expertise can however be needed to help with selecting, negotiating with, and managing ‘right fit’ distributors and sales partners in each country.
10 Monitor and manage your sales team and sales processes
‘You manage what you measure’ as the saying has it, and sales and marketing activities are no exception. Activity and results have to be quantified in a meaningful and usable way.
Success metrics are often considered to be mainly financial, however these can promote short term objectives over longer term sustainable, steady profitable growth.
Financial metrics therefore need to be balanced with sales and marketing success metrics such as profitable customer satisfaction and regeneration and customer service indicators.
11 Have the courage to experiment and yes, sometimes fail
Several traditional British textile companies have almost gone bankrupt due to Asian low price competition and ailing demand for traditional products.
A few however have had the courage and foresight to reposition themselves and align themselves as a critical part of the buoyant British luxury fashion design business supply chain.
Companies that are not testing new products or packages in new markets are one day going to stagnate.
Really successful businesses are those that are constantly innovating, recreating, redesigning and readapting, even when it means developing and changing your skill sets and team.
Embracing and anticipating change in line with new market growth patterns is a key element of achieving sustainable growth.
12 Think creatively about your long term positioning
Finally, remember that while sales and marketing activities need to produce short term results, the world is an ever changing place with new threats and opportunities continually emerging, so as referred to in a number of the points above, it is important to balance the short and long term view and make time to consider and incorporate working towards your long term goals in your short term plans.
Case study – Business Growth Delivery
Background and brief
Company X wanted to move to a new level and penetrate the book trade and raise their on and offline profile.
In 2006, they were only selling via map wholesalers.
Development of a direct integrated sales and marketing approach
We implemented a direct sales strategy. Within two years, their products were listed in 100% of Waterstones stores, 75% of Borders stores and in 40% of the independent trade.
Our growth delivery team also implemented PR campaigns and reader offers in national media (including The Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, The Independent) and specialist press.
New channels (notably garden centres and country house gift shops) were developed.
We drove sales in store with innovative merchandising and sales staff training and even organised local events related to the products, which were attended by local customers, press, historians, librarians and archaeologists.
50 local press articles were created in two years as a result.
Results – Profitable Growth Delivered
Sales of Company X’s products increased tenfold in four years.
The Average Order Transaction Value increased from £62 to £153 in 18 months.
30% of sales were gained online; increasing gross margins by 12%.
So, how well is your business set up to deliver growth?
Take this short self test to check for yourself.
Self Score from 1 to 10
- What is your projected net margin over the next 3 years?
- How clear is your company and brand vision?
- How close are you to being market, sector or category leader?
- Are you penetrating new market sectors?
- How efficient is your existing sales team(s)?
- Do you have a continuous stream of new leads in your pipeline?
- How do you rate your customer service?
- Do clients give your product(s) and service rave reviews?
- Do existing clients refer you to new potential clients?
- Are you already exporting or planning to do so?
How satisfied are you with your answers and score?
Our Growth Delivered service offers an initial one day workshop (£950 + VAT).
With the help of sales and marketing experts, this workshop provides a structured review of how efficiently you are managing your sales and marketing processes including:
- Future Direction and growth strategy
- Customer profiling and segmentation
- Matching sales approach to business needs
- Sales force structuring / optimisation
- Sales force management
The output is an action plan for developing and implementing a cost effective sales strategy to deliver profitable growth.
Contact us today to see how we can help you develop your sales effectiveness.
0844 576 0402