HOW TO DRIVE SUSTAINABLE REVENUE DEMAND
Growing a business with sustainable revenue demand, without the lumpy effects of the 'boom and bust cycle' is the dream of most business owners and managers.
Yet predictable, sustainable revenue demand is often so difficult to achieve - even for the most successful businesses and the high flyers that run them.
Building sustainable revenue demand requires a vision that everyone buys into. Together with the right people in the right seats, the right processes and systems you can generate the necessary traction and momentum over time.
If you have been in business long enough, you will have failed in business many times, won a few times and observed the successes and failures of others from afar.
Here is what we've learned about driving sustainable revenue demand.
9 questions to ask your business if it’s serious about generating sustainable revenue demand.
01. Do you have a powerful ‘why’ for your business?
Simon Sinek calls it the ‘Golden Circle’. In general terms, we mostly comprehend ‘what’ we actually do and ‘how’ we do it.
However, often we don’t clearly know ‘why’ we do the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. When this ‘why’ is unlocked it is extremely powerful for employees at an individual level as well as at a whole of business level. The ‘why’ or purpose is powerful because it provides a point of reference for everything that you do.
Being able to articulate what actually makes the individual fulfilled activates the emotional or System 1 thinking , which is how we as humans are wired to think and behave.
Now imagine your business is a place where everyone from the cleaner to the CEO clearly understands the purpose of the business and how it relates to their personal ‘what’. Sustainable revenue demand requires clarity, vision and passion and it all starts with the ‘why’.
02. Are your leaders working on the business and in the business?
Almost everyone would say that they need more time to work on the business. I wonder, is this because working in the business is less glamorous? Or are we drawn to KPI’s that are harder to measure in the short term?
There’s must be a balance between the two.
Working in the business drives success for today by having the best people execute and being accountable for their actions. It ensures that accurate insights are garnered and leveraged to enable the business to respond to short-term opportunity and threats alike.
Working on the business on the other hand revolves around the planning responsibilities and long term asset creation such as new product development or facilities development.
This medium to long term planning is essential for sustained business growth. It feeds capital and human resource requirements for the future and funds the innovation pipeline well before eventual launch.
03. Do you care for your employees as much as you do for your customers?
The customer is always right. Since forever, this is what we’ve been taught. The goal of every business in the world is to create shared value between customers and the business. And this value is created primarily through employees.
Vineet Nayar in his bestselling book Employees First, Customers Second, summarises this neatly by saying that by putting employees first, you actually deliver the promise of customers first.
So how do you actually put this into practice? Start by employing the same user experience methodologies that businesses often use to improve the customer experience for improved employee experiences and engagement. This might involve conducting employee surveys, one on one interviews and workshops to uncover the ideal employee experience. The very act of this deep dive will illustrate the care your business has for it's people.
Finally, research shows that higher levels of employee engagement are derived from employees who work for a compassionate leader. A leader that’s present, dignified, authentic, accountable and empathetic. Isn’t that what we all wish for.
04. Are you funded to grow?
It’s one thing to have great ideas, it’s another to see them successfully executed. Too often ideas and breakthrough innovations fail because of sub standard execution. A big part of this failure is wishful financial thinking!
Limited funds are a reality in every business, however if the funds are stretched across too many initiatives they will end up being poorly executed. This happens in every business type – from start-ups to established businesses and it’s a trap.
Being funded for growth relies on sound planning and financial expertise. Ask yourself:
- Do you need to seek equity finance?
- Should you consider a test market first?
- Can your business find savings in other areas?
- Can you achieve your goals through alliances that share the financial burden?
A good CFO or Financial Controller earns their keep on this front because being properly funded for growth releases the anxiety leaders can experience when under pressure to deliver ‘more for less’. Leadership can focus their time on value creation tasks rather than simply managing a budget – an important task, but not a growth driving one!
05. Have you built a defined, memorable experience into your product or service?
We now live in an experience economy. As consumers we now have unlimited choice, we can research and shop on values if we so desire and we expect the utility of a product to extend way beyond its functional attributes. CX or customer experience is now an essential part of designing products, service provision and communications.
In an age where competitive tension is so tight, a memorable customer experience is what can set your business apart from competitors.
Customer experience focuses on ‘how’ a business delivers for customers. Mckinsey argues that to improve customer experience you need to move from touch points to journeys.
It’s a process that involves observing the product interaction from the customer’s viewpoint, then shaping or redesigning the business from the customer up and finally aligning and performing the way you have defined the customer experience for tangible outcomes.
Paying close attention to the customer's experience will help you learn how to view your business through their eyes. You'll learn how to make the experience be something that if you were the customer, it would be remarkable and memorable.
06. Do you plan for growth?
Planning has been a constant theme throughout this blog. Planning is a discipline that sets the vision for growth and provides the evidence to say that it is achievable. Planning helps everyone understand the risk and reward of each growth initiative.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the growth planning process is the draft and review phases.
Ensuring a plan goes through a draft phase is essential for good inter departmental collaboration. Feedback, as the old saying goes, is the breakfast of champions and is essential to ensure 360 degree buy in from the whole business.
Setting up a process of ongoing reviews helps avoid awkward conversations later down the track if things go 'off the rails'. Identify your leading indicators of growth success and track them with critical discussion being held around the data and actions points. As the saying goes… failing to plan is planning to fail, so get to it!
If you are looking for a great planning methodology and system, we recommend EOS. They will not only get your team on the same page with the 'big stuff' like purpose, vision and long-term plans, but also help create the traction needed for executing that plan.
07. Is ‘Smarketing’ central to your go to your executional strategy?
Getting Marketing and Sales aligned and on the same page is mission critical for sustainable business growth because they drive demand. So often acknowledged as a problem and yet so often very little is done about it.
This is despite HubSpot research showing that when there is alignment between Marketing and Sales, these businesses experience consistent levels of growth.
What can be practically done to ensure alignment? The first thing to do is to acknowledge that Marketing and Sales are two sides of the same coin. And a great way to bring to this to life is ensuring that both functions are sharing common KPI’s.
Setting up a working charter is also a great idea to ensure emotions are kept in check and that expectations on each party are understood and accountable. Regular collaborations on both short and long term metrics will bring an appreciation for each others roles and encourage the sharing of insights and support.
08. Is branding a key growth pillar for your business?
Building a brand is like building a framework for deciding what not to be. It’s about making choices around your most profitable target market, which attributes are strengths and the potential benefits they provide.
Your eventual brand positioning is what this represents and prioritising the time and effort taken to get this right is a key foundation to your sustainable business growth.
Much is written about well known brands like Apple or Nike. Yes they are powerful brands, however it’s easy to be discouraged by their scale and fame, which might seem unattainable, particularly if you are a B2B business.
The great thing about branding is that it must ring true for your business. Like your DNA, your brand positioning needs to be unique for your business. Using market research, behavioural data from your website or good old fashioned customer interviews, you need to decide what your brand promises to deliver day in day out.
Great branding, will provide a shield against competitors allowing you to using pricing as a strategic weapon and not a short term volume generator.
Finally great branding will see you create distinctive brand assets that ultimately forge your unique reputation that you earn by doing what you do, according to the brand positioning framework you set for your business. And every business can do this!
09. Can you replicate your sales process successfully?
Firstly, have you a defined sales pipeline and sales process? From this point, being able to repeat your sales processes is a key to ongoing success.
Creating and executing sales processes that can be deployed and scaled overtime brings efficiencies that not only help you grow but also build knowledge for future growth.
With your sales team all working to one process with common KPIs, repeating your sales success will be easy. Employing a great CRM with advanced sales tools will also help build shared understanding and confidence in your business as it increases forecast accuracy, improves conversion rates and decreases cost per customer acquisition.
Finally, a repeatable sales process provides the platform to build scale. A great way to start towards this is by undergoing a thorough sales enablement process, which will research and document your ideal sales journey. And as they say…repeat, repeat and you’ll be sweet!
- Challenge yourself to ask these questions of your business!
- We're living in an experienced based world so we need to maximise the employee experience with the same laser like focus we do for the customer.
- Branding is a key to long term success no matter what industry you operate in.
- Being properly funded is not just about the finances. it's about ensuring all initiatives are correctly resourced across people, budget and leadership priority.
- Make sure your sales strategy is accountable and repeatable.