To quote a sage of our time, Charles M Schulz, creator of Peanuts and Charlie Brown, “Life is like a 10-speed bicycle; most of us have gears we never use.”
So, what are these gears that stimulate your business growth?
While working with a number of clients as their interim marketing head, you start to see patterns of how high growth companies behave versus those who are suffering from no or slow growth. Those companies that are growing tend to keep a sharp eye on their competition and their marketplace. Maybe it is the sheer competitive spirit that drives the CEO and leadership team to be curious about their competitors constantly. This curiosity of external factors can help us understand the first gear in the growth engine, Insight.
We have all heard the adage, “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” This applies well in the case of the Insight Gear or Gear 1. You need to not only understand what your competitors are doing but also understand what perceptions prevail from the marketplace regarding your company. In fact, to paraphrase Art Saxby and Pete Hayes in their book, The Growth Gears, “the opinions of your customers and your marketplace are far more important than your own.”
Once these high-growth companies have tapped external understanding with the Insight gear, what’s next? All of that knowledge would go to waste if it were not leveraged in the refining of their Strategy. Thus, to address Gear 2, let’s talk strategy for a moment. How do you articulate your growth plans? Do you want to focus on expanding geographically or by industry segments? Or would it be a better approach to expand the offerings to your existing customer base? Formulating this plan of how you are going to grow is based on the market insights gathered from Gear 1.
Fast forward, you really want to grow your business. You have done your homework in the Insights arena. You have formulated a strategic plan based on those insights. Next, it’s time to execute! The third gear is referred to as Execution. Some of us might refer to this as tactics. A perfect quote to articulate the importance of both strategy and execution follows:
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory; tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” —Sun Tsu, Ancient Chinese Military strategist
This is the time to roll up your sleeves and execute on a plan that is derived from your insights and strategy. What I remind clients of during engagements is that making growth happen is not a one-and-done process. We will execute tactics, measure and then adjust accordingly.
Next? The fourth gear — you guessed it…Sales! Insight, Strategy, and Execution gears are all turning to create this high-functioning growth engine that fuels your Sales. Sales can now happen with a well informed strategy and refined execution based on measurement and adjustment. Voilà!
Watch Mary's Vistage Webinar Replay on the topic here.