This graph shows the growth in turnover of a company I owned and ran in the 90s. It was an IT services business and in a decade we took it from zero to £40m – about £60m in today’s money.
There were hundreds of firms like ours and most never got anywhere near this growth so what did we do differently? In this blog I aim to answer this question.
I believe there were many reasons but I reckon it comes down to 7 things we did that others didn’t do as well as us or at all, in fact. So here they are.
1 Make your Offering Turn Heads
In other words make your product or service different from your competitors. This may sound harder that it actually is if you concentrate on the wrong things. We focused on 4 things and perhaps you could do the same: -
- The way you deliver your offering, especially when interfacing with your clients.
- What else you can add to your offering to make it broader.
- Take more responsibility off your clients and do it as part of your offering.
- Be more creative and take more risks with your pricing structure.
This is the first strategy because it’s the most powerful one by a country mile.
2 Put your clients in charge of your Quality Control and R&D Functions
Everybody has these functions in their business: if you’re a one-man band it’s you and if you’re a large corporate you have teams of people to do it for you. Somebody has to make things better and improve your offering.
Many firms run quality control surveys and engage in client dialogue around their performance but they normally ask the wrong questions and in the wrong way. Look at the title of this strategy again and rethink what you do.
Get this strategy right and I promise everything will change for you.
3 Be a Sales Hunter and not a Marketing Trapper
This is my favourite, but then that’s probably because I’m a salesman. The point here is, in the B2B world you can identify exactly the person you need to establish a relationship with to get some business. So why bother marketing to them if you can sell to them instead? In those days we were very definitely hunters; I still am.
Our marketing budget for the company that achieved that growth was zero; not a penny. We spent our money on relationship based 121 sales activities. Much more productive.
4 Treat Your Clients 95% the way you would your Friends
We did this unconsciously because all the main players in my organisation liked people, so it was easy for them to socialise and make friends with their clients. But there’s much, much more to this strategy that a few beers after work.
Just think about every thought and action you devote to your friends and loved ones and then translate them into your business relationships and you won’t be too far adrift. Oh, and I know what you’re thinking; that’s why it’s only 95% the same!
5 Communicate like your Business depends upon it.
Back in the day we had face-to-face meetings and telephone calls and that was it. Now we have a plethora of communication channels at our disposal (although, ignore the two I just mentioned at your peril).
If you pay no attention to people or worse still, communicate with them only when you have time, it’s not possible to create, and maintain, the kind of relationship that weathers storms and sees off competitor’s lower prices. Interactions are the sunshine and water that grow strong and fruitful relationships.
6 Be a Pilot not a Passenger; stay in control
You wouldn’t run a business without management reports plus, meetings to discuss them and agree any required actions, would you? So why would you run your business development capability any differently.
It’s hard to increase your revenue today but, easy to do things now that will increase it in a years’ time. Being forewarned and taking action now is what business growth is all about.
It’s vital to make sure you have the right metrics in place (avoid proxy measurements) and a robust management framework to interpret and act upon the information you’re given.
7 Have the right sales power tools and know how to use them.
Imagine being a modern-day carpenter and not having power tools. Sure, you could make do with more traditional tools but jobs would take longer and would be no better quality (perhaps even worse) than having used the old Black & Deckers.
In the modern age we have a number of sales power tools available to help us achieve much more for much less. Remember though, owning them isn’t enough; you also have to learn how to use them properly to reap all the benefits that they can provide.
Where to from here then?
Having worked out what created our exponential revenue growth I wondered what next?
I’ve shared them with others and have had a lot of interest so I decided to build a talk around them. What started off as an informal breakfast meeting has turned into a half day structured seminar which explores the “what”; the “why” and “how” for each strategy.
We’ll be running one in London and another in Birmingham so if you fancy coming along just follow the link and book your space – it would be great to see you there.
Midlands on 17th of September – Sold out
London on the 25th of September – click here to find out more and register.
Midlands on 7th October – click here to find out more and register