In looking back through the many clients that we have been fortunate to help, we have noticed a pattern of awareness-raising questions that made a significant difference in their growth rate. At times these questions were posed as a core element of our support engagement. In others they were simply used as a thought-catalyst. In all cases, however, the answers that emerged helped them to redefine aspects of their business that influenced near- and long-term growth.
We have compiled a few of such questions and we are rolling them out to you in a multi-part series starting today. So here is Part I in helping you ask key questions that can influence the growth of your organization:
1) How much have you leveraged technology to accelerate your growth?
Systems should be in place to help people operate at their peak, not the other way around. Yet, young and established organizations alike bleed resources daily by working harder and not smarter. How well-leveraged is your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool? Are lead-scoring, funnel management, and a buttoned-up sales process in place? How about using analytics tools to help glean richer information from prospects and close more deals? What about deploying a marketing automation solution – do you even know what it means for your business? If you don’t, you should. As a leader, it’s your duty. Uncork the efficiency of your team by placing the right tools in the hands of the right people. It is often less costly and simpler than you might think, and your top-line will thank you.
2) To what degree are you prepared to develop new vertical markets?
Aspiring to grow outside of your current vertical market is can often be a strategic imperative as much as a basic operational requirement. You can fend off growth stagnation by seeking out new vertical markets that would be happy to buy what you are offering. In fact, it is one of the most solid ways to spur growth. However, be sure you know yourself and where you are headed before assigning copious amounts of resources and time to the endeavor. Prior to venturing out to the next market pasture, be sure to take an honest look at your own offering. Yes, hang onto your belief in success and strength of your business. However, do conduct an thorough assessment of what you have to offer and how it stacks up in the new market you are looking to pursue. It is *much* easier to sell something into a market void than it is to fight sophisticated, entrenched players off their territory. With a solid strategic and tactical plan, new markets can help transform your organization, your top-line and your future.
3) How many-fold can you increase your top line by expanding internationally?
In a recent article, we pointed out three top reasons why most companies should include international expansion into their strategic growth plans. If you find yourself in a recurring battle with the same companies, for the same customers in the same domestic market, maybe it’s time you take a look abroad. Yes, there could be other companies with similar offerings, but your company may have that which is just different, fresh, or appealing enough to endear foreign buyers to switch over to your brand. You never know until you look into it, and there are many low-risk, high return ways to do so for your business. Some of which are fully turnkey.
4) Are you leaving money on the table for not commanding the value your market is willing to bear?
One of our clients – a well established technology and technical services company – had been providing a unique, high-quality suite of services to a broad client base in both for- and non-profit sectors. Yet, they felt they could not quite hit a stride in profitability or even revenues until later into the projects because so much up-front work was required. When we asked them: “What other alternatives do your customers have if not buying from you?” They told us there were a few other companies, but that they believed they were one of the best as evidenced by their new and repeat business. We conducted an assessment and determined that the value of their services to clients was well above the monetary amount being charged for such services. We then suggested they place an up-front charge (of many tens of thousands of dollars) before any new project work began. Our hypothesis was that – if customers balked – then we would know that the repeat business was a function of low prices (which would prove to be a strong validation of the basis upon which the company should compete). However, if customers agreed, not only it would reinforce the value basis of selling, but would also increase revenues and profits. The result: 100% client retention after the new commercial structure was in place, with strong financial performance at year-end to boot.
Many of us are often too close to the day-to-day pressures of running a business in order to step back and take an objective look at how to tackle big picture strategic items – or the unexpected tactical glitch. Fluctuating between the 50,000- and 100-feet view multiple times in a day is a tough way to maintain perspective. However, in having a set of go-to questions to ask at different altitudes within your day can help to unlock the answer that can spur your organization’s growth.