Is sales growth a good thing? In business, the answer is usually “yes!”
Some would even say that if you’re not growing, you’re going backwards and you can’t go backwards in business and succeed. But is it always a good thing? Not necessarily. Some companies have “grown” themselves into bankruptcy. Growth requires investment and cash flow, and if you don’t have deep pockets and resources, growth that happens too quickly can kill a company just as surely as regressing.
Here are some ideas to help you think through the process of launching a successful growth plan. They apply whether you are a CEO planning for your company, a sales manager planning for your division or a salesperson planning for your territory.
Ten Steps to Sales Growth
Decide why you want to grow.
“Because” is not a sufficient answer. Will growth give you better efficiencies, more market dominance, stronger cash flow, and/or more bonuses? Know why you want to grow and articulate it so you can build a plan that meets those needs.
Determine how much sales growth you want.
Can you put a dollar sign on the amount? A percentage? What’s an audacious amount? What’s realistic? Which would be more fun to go after? What could excite you? What can the company constraints, such as production time, cash flow, human resources, shipping, and other divisions handle? How will your decision to grow impact others? What are the implications in the next 12 months?
Develop a plan for how you want to grow.
In our Pure Selling sales program lesson on Profitable Client Strategies we discuss the importance of choosing the best horse to ride. What are your most profitable products to sell? Who are your most profitable clients? What is the most profitable use of your time? To sell an extra $10 million revenue in a product line that gives only marginal profit is counterproductive. To take on a marginal account that consumes more of your time and produces little growth in profitability is probably a bad business decision.
Decide how you don’t want to grow.
It is just as important to determine what you don’t want to do. It may be challenging to make these decisions, but choosing to abandon a product line, a service, a market, a group of customers – or at least not expand them, can be a valuable strategic decision.
Develop an action plan.
When you have answered these preliminary questions, it is time to plan. What specifically do you need to do differently in order to make growth happen? Do you need to engage marketing; get financing; get a new list of prospects; speak to the production department; beef up the customer service department; pick up the phone and make appointments with prospects? Outline all the steps you need to take as well as those that need to be delegated to others in order to make this growth plan work.
Calculate the cost.
There is always a cost to growth. It can be measured in time, energy, money and sweat. How much is it going to cost to get the results you want to achieve?
Assess the risk.
What if you commit the resources that you’ve identified and you don’t get the results you anticipate? Or, imagine if the marketing plan doesn’t work? Perhaps others aren’t prepared to put in the sweat that you need to produce the results? What if you run out of resources before you get the corresponding growth that you expect? Alternatively, what if your growth plan is so wildly successful that it takes on a life of its own? What are the ripple effects? How much risk are you willing to take?
Assess the expected benefits.
The risk/benefit analysis provides the clarity that you may need to motivate yourself to proceed in spite of the risks. What are the rewards for you personally, for your company and for others around you when you achieve this growth?
Make a commitment.
If you have completed the process of analysis and are certain about the growth path you want to take; you’re clear on the benefits and the risks associated with the decision; and you’ve come to the conclusion that the rewards outweigh the risks and this is the right thing to do, then make a commitment. No holding back. or second thoughts. No waffling. Tell those that matter what you are going to do and don’t let anyone or anything dissuade you from your path.
Do it. There’s nothing else to say.
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