Eventually, companies reach the limit of growth – as growth engines run out of steam sooner or later. Markets slow down; economic downturns set in; industries mature. Competitors saturate every niche segment, and, inevitably, the nature of the business changes. Finding a way to navigate through these issues is not easy. However, growth is necessary if for no other reason than to maintain market share, sustain healthy margins, and generate positive cash flow. This condition is a common occurrence. So, why does it happen? Also, more importantly, what steps can companies take to resolve this problem?
Elusive business growth is a
Consider the following actions that we have observed numerous companies take in customer strategy, marketing, sales, and customer service.
Focus on activation
Focus on retention
Know your competitors’ strategy and products
Integrate personalization into the customer journey
Treat customers as assets for their lifetime value
Solve the customers’ biggest pain points
Leverage big data analytics
Automate marketing and adopt mobile marketing
Rebrand the business
Engage in corrective pricing
Partner and co-market in the industry
Increase content marketing
Integrate marketing activities into the customer lifecycle
Focus more on relationships, less on leads
Increase business with existing accounts
Improve ability to communicate value
Increase effectiveness of lead generation
Increase average size of sales
Optimize the sale process
Speed up the sale cycle
Solicit continuous feedback from customers
Speed up response time
Provide educational knowledge
Create referrals through incentives
Train the front-line staff
Take advantage of negative feedback
Integrate social media into the process
These types of activities and many others like them are the province of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO), and the Chief Sales Officer (CSO). Until recently, the CEO would have been correct to delegate the responsibility of growth to them. However, markets change, technology impacts demand, buyer behavior evolves, new forms of competition set in, and these actions will not solve the problem of growth.
When growth becomes elusive, the business needs an approach that transcends traditional silos. If management teams are to respond effectively to a low-growth condition, CMO, CRO, and CSO actions can be beneficial, but they are not sufficient, and they don’t get to the root of the problem. Consequently, growth doesn’t materialize and the business gets set further back.
Actions by the CMO, CRO, and CSO are
Managers need to think in broader terms in light of how much growth they need: where is our next wave of growth going to come from? How do we align ourselves to the market? Which activities would make the business more competitive?
Our next article, “The Challenge of Growth,” explores these issues and what it takes for managers to capitalize on the drivers of growth, the levers at one’s disposal, and how to set the company on a growth trajectory.