There is plenty of advice available for business owners and CEOs of struggling companies to help them right the ship. But what if your “problem” is simply just that you are doing well and need to figure out how to take the next steps to grow revenue?
Every day I work with organizations that are succeeding, but they are stuck where they are. Their current revenue figures have plateaued, and they are unable to get to that next level. The issue they need to tackle is not staying afloat, it is figuring out how to increase their speed to win the race.
How do companies that have their business model figured out and are on sure footing propel themselves forward to that next leap in revenue growth? This revenue growth guide will give you the tactical advice you need to build a growth strategy to take your company to the next level!
1. Building Awareness
Growth that has stagnated will never start increasing again on its own. Something has to happen to push it forward. Simply doing the same thing over and over with the expectation that next time the outcome might be different is not just futile, it is the definition of insanity.
The important thing you need to realize is that the activities and approaches and personnel that got you to where you are now can only take you so far. Eventually, you need to break the cycle. Changes need to be made to move the company forward in its next big leap. The first step in this process is identifying that things are not improving.
If you are reading this article, you are likely already aware that your growth has leveled off, but if you need to convince someone else, lean on your data. If the growth stagnation is strictly in terms of profitable revenue, that is easy to see in your financial data. However, instead of an overall P&L statement the data may be in the form of client churn, a job costing report, or a product profitability report. Where you go to look at the data will depend on what the vision is for the organization.
However, regardless of what kind of data you are looking at, if the needle has not moved in the right direction in three months it is time to consult with a trusted advisor like your accountant, your attorney, or consultant. Hiring a revenue consultant can help get things moving more quickly because their impartiality as an outsider provides a fresh perspective to start moving the company in the right direction.
2. Visualizing the Next Level
The most important part of the strategic revenue planning process is to understand what “the next level” looks like. As the old adage goes, “Any road will take you there, if you don’t care where you end up!”
To get a sense of where you want to be heading, take a look at companies that are at “the next level” and decide if you are willing to do what it takes to get there. What do you like about their organizations? Are they doing things that you could see fitting your company? Are they in markets you want to be in? Do they have offerings that you want to sell? If you do not want to play in the arenas where they are, determine if there is an alternate way to go or an intermediate level that would be a better fit.
But (and this is a big but), do not just haphazardly follow your competitors! If you have no expertise in what they are already doing, do not know how to sell what they are selling, or do not understand the market they are in, do not do it! The costliest mistake you can make is to copy your competitors without the knowledge and tools needed to go up against them.
Detail what the next level will look like and plan for how you will get there. Then, constantly measure and adjust. Not everything you decide to do will work, but you won’t know what will succeed until you try. Use the data to continually adjust and reevaluate as you go.
3. Anticipating Pain Points
Anticipating problems is always better than just reacting to them. If your plan requires a big shift or a large investment, gather your advisors and present the plan and get their feedback. Listen to your accountant, attorney, Chief Revenue Officer, and consulting team when they give their input to understand the challenges you will be facing. Be transparent and include your internal team as well by looping in sales, marketing, operations, and accounting/finance to bring in their perspectives. This will help you to understand where friction may occur before it actually arises. Use this information to plan for the bumps before you hit them.
4. Starting at the Beginning
When your growth strategy includes a wide variety of changes that need to be implemented, how do you prioritize your efforts? It may sound obvious to say, but you start at the beginning. Your planning should include extensive research to determine where there are gaps and mismatches between your current and future business models so you can decide if it is worth it to realign your business to make that change. If it is worth it, start figuring out how you will fill those gaps.
5. Finding the Secret Sauce
Processes are the secret sauce to any revenue strategy. The only way revenue can be replicable is to have the right systems and processes in place. The right processes ensure that revenue is not only profitable but also SMART (Sustainable, Manageable, Aligned with your strengths, Repeatable, on Target).
Remember, your processes will be highly contingent upon the length of your sales cycle. You will have different activities occurring internally depending on how long it takes your customers to buy because there are just simply processes that you will not have time for if your sales cycle is too short. (For instance, using a CRM to enter information regarding every conversation with a customer makes sense if your sales cycle is 6-9 months long, but definitely is not worth it if your sales cycle is 2-4 days long.)
6. Understanding your Sales Cycle
Your sales cycle is comprised of two pieces: the buyer’s journey and the customer success team’s involvement. You need to know everything about what is going on with your buyer before they make a purchase, to answer questions such as:
- Where do they do their research?
- What is important to them?
- What is the internal process that they go through to decide among their options?
- What goes on before they can make a purchase?
- When do they talk to a salesperson?
- What are they expecting from that salesperson?
- How do they actually buy it?
Then, after the purchase you need to know what happens next. Your customer success team will decide when to update them, how to communicate about shipping, how to follow up after they receive the product, whether to ask for a review, and so on.
Knowing this sales cycle end-to-end will tell you at what point your sales team, marketing team, and customer success team needs to be a part of the process. It will also help you to design your compensation plan to motivate employees in a way that facilitates replicable growth.
7. Stepping Back
Once you determine the best strategic approach to take and the tactical steps you need to implement your plan, you will need to develop or upgrade your existing personnel to extricate the business owner from revenue-generating activities. As Kelly O’Neil explains when discussing breaking through a growth plateau, “I've found that most entrepreneurs at seven figures are actually stunting their businesses' growth because they simply don't have the expertise to scale it to eight. And frankly, many of them are ready to bring in someone else to sit at the helm and let them focus on doing work they love.”
In lieu of an owner controlling these types of functions, the goal is to segment out these roles to team members (either existing employees or new employees) to allow the owner to step back from the day-to-day revenue generation of the business. When this happens will depend on the current state of the company and what its growth goals looks like. However, to make this transition you will need a documented plan and a regular reporting system to ensure that once a certain milepost is hit that they are reminded to step back.
If your revenue growth has stagnated and you need help figuring out what to do next, please reach out to me. I would be happy to discuss your organization’s goals and help you put together a plan to help you achieve them. Contact me today to find out more!