We are into the second month of the new year. Is your 2018 revenue growth plan on schedule? Are you thinking that more of what you did in 2017, plus a motivational sales meeting and some organic growth will take care of your growth targets? Or is the plan to solve the need by hiring a few more salespeople? Either way, I suggest you consider some better options for accelerating revenue.
One of my favorite business books is Right Away and All at Once by Greg Brenneman, who is one of the world’s foremost experts on business turnarounds. Brenneman’s advice is to pick four or five “blue chip” items to transform a business, and implement them right away and all at once (as opposed to the traditional incremental approach). Likewise, I am suggesting that you apply this principle to your revenue growth initiatives by deciding which of the following strategies can best move the revenue needle for your company.
- Review your business model and update as necessary.
By business model, I mean everything involved in attracting prospects, converting them to customers and generating repeat sales in a profitable manner. The idea is to make sure you are selling to the most receptive market, in the most efficient and profitable manner. Here are a few options to consider when choosing your business model:
- Repackage your products to appeal to a new or broader audience.
- Find lower cost and/or more efficient ways to sell (e.g., e-commerce, telephone or free trial offer).
- Promote to new vertical markets (industries).
- Open up a new channel (e.g., distributor, resellers, VARs).
- Develop strategic alliances.
- Merge with or acquire other companies to achieve greater market or product depth and breadth.
- Build an unstoppable lead-to-revenue (L2R) framework.
As explained in my previous article, the lead-to-revenue framework has many benefits. Its purpose is to synchronize people, processes and technology in a manner that optimizes every part of the end-to-end marketing and sales model to achieve greater amounts of (profitable) revenue, reduced sales cycles and higher close rates.
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Not only does this framework help to optimize the end-to-end process to achieve more profitable revenue, it reduces sales cycles and higher close rates. It also synchronizes people, technology and processes. This framework includes all sales and marketing activities, including generating and nurturing leads and driving awareness.
- Align your sales team to support the L2R framework.
There is a natural tension in the marketing and sales relationship because of the conflicting objectives – short-term quota attainment for sales versus long-term branding and prospect development for marketing. The objective is to align the two functions to create a clear and documented revenue growth strategy, with a structure in place that allows you to execute, measure and adjust as necessary. One of the fastest and most effective ways to accomplish this is to adopt a service level agreement (SLA) that specifies the attributes and quantity of leads, the follow-up process and how marketing’s contribution to revenue is measured.
- Evaluate your brand and refresh as necessary.
A weak company or product brand is a heavy burden to carry and makes every part of the marketing and sales process more difficult. Here are some questions to ask to determine whether you need a brand tune-up or a complete overhaul:
- Is our brand fresh and relevant
- Does our brand stand up to the competition?
- Is our brand differentiated?
- Is our brand compelling?
- Does our solution improve business and/or personal outcomes?
- Practice a bit of marketing psychology.
This may sound like so much psycho-babble (pun intended), but I experienced great results with psychology-based marketing. Here are some key tips:
- Thoroughly understand your customers’ attitudes, thought processes and motivations.
- Create psychological relevance by writing more emotion-based copy instead of focusing on features and benefits. Examples of emotional appeals include exclusivity, love, and social status on the positive side, and fear, uncertainty and doubt on the negative side.
- Gain agreement on small matters before attempting the big close.
- Show a little vulnerability. When you admit to a flaw or two, prospects will tend to believe the rest of what you say. Conversely, when you claim that your product is best in every way, your credibility gap remains large.
Use trust-inducing words in your copy like: guarantee, authentic, certified and accurate. For a list of 50 trust words, plus much more on this subject, review this informative article from conversion expert Jeremy Smith.
- Optimize your online strategy.
This is a step you take only after you are satisfied with your business model, lead-to-revenue framework and branding. You need to make sure that your website is built to accomplish four vital purposes:
- Attract prospects
- Educate them on your offerings
- Get them to engage with your sales team
- Help convert them to paying customers
These website updates are important but not enough. You also need a plan to roll out a steady stream of relevant content.
Before Launching Any Revenue Growth Initiatives
It is tempting to jump right into one or more of the above action areas, but here is the essential question to ask when you are evaluating any part of your revenue growth strategy: If we were creating this particular function/process from scratch, would we design it the way it currently exists?
If the answer is no (as it often will be), this is a sign that you need to take action. For example, if your business model, branding or lead-to-revenue framework is weak today, it is probably not going to get stronger without an intervention. And as I mentioned earlier, when you decide to embrace one or more of these strategies, it’s best to do this right away and all at once.
Note: this article originally appeared at Forbes, December 15, 2017.