High Growth Businesses – The Three Pillars

The last six years has been such an enlightening learning experience – its great to have worked with some 3,000 ambitious entrepreneurs many of which would be classified as high growth. My definition of high growth is – start-up businesses that reach £1M in three years or those with a minimum turnover of £0.5M but who can sustain 20% year on year growth over 3 years. Having researched them, worked with them and been one myself – there  are some common traits that make them what they are. Here are three inter related strands of their operation that are often so visible:

Leadership, strategy and processes (LSP) – clarity and focus are very important building blocks in determining a successful future. The ability to clearly define the end game then implement a plan to move swiftly towards the destination is fundamental. Strategies are driven with passion and determination and leadership ensures that people are up for the task, things get done! The primary processes of sales, customer service, order fulfilment, finance, people development, quality are measured – the dials on the performance dashboard make for a more efficient running of the business. The company rulebook is in place and there is no misunderstanding around what needs to be achieved. A culture of innovation breeds conditions for growth

Customers, markets and propositions  (CMP) – the customer’s world lies at the heart of the high growth businesses mindset. Creating and delivering propositions that captures the voice of the customer is a primary characteristic of a high performing company. They have a distinct ability to identify market blind spots and deliver propositions that often the customer did not realise they needed. This market immersion mentality and approach ensures that the high growth company is looking over the horizon of how to deliver differentiated products and services which bring massive value. High growth businesses more often than not create new customer experiences that are memorable, inspirational, imaginative and innovation. The resultant effect is delight and the creation of an extended sales force led by the customers themselves. Satisfied customers become ambassadors and provide evidence and act as testament to others seeking your products or services – word of mouth and referrals kick in. This really weird thing happens and customers seek out high performance companies because they are great to do deal with  – their brand becomes a magnet within the marketplace.

Sales team effectiveness (STE) – sales individuals and teams can only deliver a truly outstanding performance when the above two pillars are in place – it certainly helps anyway. The selling job is far easier when businesses have truly differentiated propositions with a sound enterprise strategy in place. High growth companies ensure sales individuals and teams are highly tuned, tooled up for the job, are great problems solvers, know their products and services intimately and execute the sales process with absolute precision. I refer to this as Customer Connectivity – this effectively defines the sales activity as find, reach, win and keep. So often I am asked to deliver sales training to businesses where they feel that underperformance is down to individuals not doing it right. The reality is poor sales growth can often be the result of more fundamental issues – lack of differentiation or poor back office can be the real cause, the resulting symptoms are that frontline sales staff just fail to secure the orders. Sales training is merely a sticking plaster.

For me high performance sales strategies come from having the above three pillars in place, another way of looking at it is

High Growth = LSP x CMP x STE

Being out of sync in anyone area can result in failure to achieve full growth potential.


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