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One of the best ways to build an on-target and sustainable growth plan is to understand your customers.

Cox Guest Blogger

August 27, 2021

4 Min Read
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If I asked you what your growth goals were for this year, would you be able to tell me exactly how much you want to grow, and by what means?

Especially for small businesses, growth planning is easier said than done when you have limited resources and you’re running at a breakneck pace to keep up with what’s in front of you for the day. But taking the time to build a growth plan gives you a clear and centered road map for how to get there, adapt to changes in the industry, and ensure the decisions you are making today are keeping you on track to meet your short-term goals. And when I say short term, I mean one or two years. Keeping your growth planning focused on the short term makes it more achievable and measurable. Two years in the technology world is a lifetime.

Your plan will help you focus on what matters most when it comes to growth: your customer.

One of the best ways to build an on-target and sustainable growth plan is to understand your customers, and one of the best ways to do that is to engage in joint business planning with them. By sitting down with your customers to plan, you learn a tremendous amount about their growth plans and how you can help them be successful. Yes, you will learn a lot when you do your customer discovery, but by formalizing the joint plan, you create accountability on both sides.

Revisiting the plan together quarterly helps you keep the communication lines open to any changes in their business and reveals opportunities. It also gives you a chance to understand whether there are any areas of frustration percolating to ensure you nip issues in the bud long before you are surprised with the news that you have lost a customer.

When meeting with your customers to build the joint business plans, consider discussing the following:

  • What are their growth plans?

  • What are they buying today?

  • How are their needs changing? (This will affect what they are buying tomorrow.)

  • What are the key drivers for purchase decisions (ease of doing business, price, installation time, etc.)?

As with the joint business plans, it’s critical that you revisit your internal growth plan quarterly to ensure you are on track with revenue goals.

Components of a Growth Plan

  • Business Goals: In what direction do you want to focus your business? This is a good time to do a joint business planning session with key vendors. What is the full selection of products they are offering that you could add to your toolbox? Is there an opportunity to bundle existing product offerings with new technologies that would benefit your customers and add incremental revenue for you? Take advantage of your vendors’ view of the market. Often their size and reach can provide insight you wouldn’t necessarily see from your vantage point.

  • Customer Segments: Where will you concentrate your efforts? Review past sales by segment to understand any trends. Is there a particular customer segment that seems to be growing or slowing down? How does this relate to any technology disruptors in their markets that may enable you to turn a lagging segment back to a winning opportunity?

  • Objectives: How will you measure each business goal? Create a short list of Key Points of Interest that are quantifiable. Too much reporting becomes unsustainable with everything else on your plate, but easily accessible data helps keep you on target. You may even find within the data new ways to incentivize your sales team.

  • Competitive Analysis: Who is your competition now, and who do you see coming on the horizon? Think about not only the products and solution areas you can offer today but also growing technologies that might become a disrupter for you or your customers tomorrow. How will you differentiate yourself?

  • Tactics: What are the actions you will take to meet your goals? This could be anything from a new marketing campaign to creating a new packaged solution intended to interest your targeted customer segment.

By building an internal growth plan and taking the time to develop a strategy for both your vendors and customers, you will build stronger relationships arming you with insights and tools that will enable you to take your business to the next level.

 As a Senior Director at Cox Business, John Muscarella is responsible for the overall readiness strategy for the indirect business sales channels. His team has the primary responsibility to develop, implement ­and sell solutions utilizing the Cox Communications network throughout the country. John has more than 25 years of experience in business management, which includes sales and leadership positions with companies such as Polycom, Sprint and EDS.

Cox's John Muscarella

 

 

This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.

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