“Work smarter, not harder” has never been a more appropriate motto. Rather than being overwhelmed, the best leaders have figured out how to overcome the complexity it takes to generate market growth. They have a growth plan. Leaders must rethink how they source leads, manage pipelines, and harness their resources to grow their businesses more effectively.
Planning on a growth plan is one of the most critical components in today’s business world. After all, it is the only method available to create new opportunities, and new revenue in a systematic and sustainable manner. It is also one of the least understood.
Business owners and leaders need to combat disruptive changes to grow revenue. They do this by developing growth strategies to concentrate scarce resources on the few options that matter. This is called a growth plan. It is not a business plan. A business will not succeed or fail based on the information provided in a growth plan, but a growth plan will help a business become successful through focused planning and forethought on the only thing that matters for revenue generation – the customer.
Here are a few things to consider in driving and developing a growth plan for your business:
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- Your Business Goals: Well-chosen goals point a business in the right direction.
- Your SWOT Analysis: Define your Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) for gathering, structuring and reviewing a snap-shot of the current situation, and future potential of your business.
- Your Client Segments: Enables the concentration of resources on the target market to grow your business.
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- Your Growth Strategies: Good strategy is about action. It provides a way through difficulty and/or maximizes a growth opportunity.
- Your Objectives: Provides a measurement for each business goal.
- Your Value Proposition: States why someone should pay attention to you – in the elevator, at a business conference or on your website.
- Your Competitive Analysis: Shows how to gain competitive advantage in differentiating your business from your main competitors.
- Your Digital Execution: Keep customers and prospects engaged by using Digital campaigns across selected platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn or YouTube.
- Your Tactics: Turn the plans into a coherent chain of few actions that make the difference in your strategy execution.
However, there are common mistakes you can encounter in developing a growth plan:
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- Not concentrating resources: A good sales strategy looks at all available resources and concentrates them on a few carefully chosen options, to move the market in your favour.
- Failure to understand the customer: Even the largest companies cannot effectively compete in every market. By now, most leaders understand that segmenting the customers is vital.
- Over-estimation of business development capabilities: In golf, knowing that we need to hit the fairway and hitting it are two vastly different scenarios. Similarly, it is easy to not fully grasp what it takes to execute the sales strategy once you have identified and secured access to the correct customers. Invest in the business development skills of your front-line to convert the leads from the launch of your next new offering to obtain real results from executing your strategy. Early success is also a terrific motivation tool – share this success.
- Failure to get buy-in from the team for the sales strategy: Leadership embraces change readily; employees often fear it or fight it. True leadership requires getting buy-in from those you lead. It will make your job easier when executing the sales strategy if you have engaged and aligned your team before you finalise your sales strategy. Imposing a new strategy top-down is easy, but does not work unless you have buy-in.
- Under-estimation of time requirements to effect the changes: Change is key for any business to remain relevant and grow. Change always takes time. Ensure that you allow adequate time for the full impact of the sales strategy to be understood, and executed by your front-line.
- Failure to orchestrate the plan for growth: World-class companies create culture for growth based on the long-game. They focus on the pivot role – first-line managers. They make business development a key priority. They look beyond individual skills to develop organizational capabilities, enhancing customer-centric execution. They invest more time in the field with customers. They look beyond the short term profit by creating the correct tempo for executing the sales strategy. This requires you to orchestrate your plan in many dimensions, with multiple stakeholders. The growth plan is only a starting point.
- Not measuring the success of the growth plan: Once you have the growth plan in place and the new strategy has been launched, it is inevitable that conversations start to fade away after an initial burst of excitement and curiosity. A few months down the road and you have no idea if things are on track. Both quantitative and qualitative factors need to be used when measuring sales strategy execution – along with a clear focus on what defines success. This work has to be done at the outset, before launching the new strategy.
Tactics are where the rubber hits the road. Overloading on tactics can have a demoralizing effect as you end up not doing anything particularly well.
So how do you get it right? By doing a quality check on the overall growth plan, you will be better suited to allocate your limited resources in an 80-20 manner to achieve your growth.
Remember, with your growth plan, don’t try to do too many things at once. You’ll end up not doing any one thing particularly well. But with a more measured approach, you’ll know that you’ve forged the balance when each tactic is worth the cost to your resources.