CHANNEL PARTNERS EVOLUTION — Discuss business growth and channel partners sit up and pay attention. And this morning they learned that business growth isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition — it's about your company and your company only. This was just one of the points conference keynote speaker Tiffani Bova, global customer growth and innovation evangelist with Salesforce, shared in her presentation "Building Your Growth IQ: Making the Right Choices at the Right Time."
Pulling from the 10 proven paths covered in her new book, “Growth IQ: Get Smarter About the Choices that Will Make or Break Your Business," Bova — a former channel chief and industry thought leader — highlighted some best practices and pivot points that can make or break your business, with its unique DNA.
Be aware: The journey is going to get uncomfortable. “I need you to start thinking differently; that’s the purpose of my presentation,” she began. Quoting, IBM chairwoman, president and CEO, Ginni Rometty, Bova reminded attendees that “Growth and comfort never co-exist.”
Growth isn’t a lump sum conversation because not all businesses want to grow at the same rate. When it comes to growth categories, Bova outlines four categories into which companies fall: hypergrowth mode or those that want to grow quickly; growing at or slightly above the previous year; seeing a softness in growth; and stalled growth, defined by two to four quarters of no or negative growth.
Bova wants partners to think about growth from a top line perspective. “Not from an M&A perspective and not from a cost-cutting perspective,” she said. That no longer works, nor do commonly taken actions such as, spending more marketing dollars or hiring more salespeople. Even the successes that some companies are seeing won’t keep happening.
Keeping a company moving forward and growing its business with the future in mind and the focus on the present is one of the most vexing challenges for business leaders Bova said.
Consider the following:
- More than 80 percent of companies will hit a growth stall at some point and only a small percentage will ever recover.
- Only a small percentage of companies will ever grow larger than $5 million in annual revenue.
- Many companies focus on being the “biggest” versus being the best at consistent growth.
- It will take between two and four years to figure out how to create “new growth” engines and execute strategy at scale.
“This is the reality and if you’re beginning to feel the pressures of growth, you’re not alone,” said Bova.
Bova’s 10 paths to growth: customer experience, customer base penetration, market acceleration, product expansion, customer/product diversification, optimal sales, churn, partnerships, co-opetition and the use unconventional strategies. Her goal isn’t to reinvent the wheel but to modernize these strategies for today.
Having a growth strategy alone, isn’t a fast track to success. “Context, combination and sequence matter,” she said.
You need to understand the context of what’s going on in your market — with your customers, in the industry, the region, in your vertical. If you don’t, how do you make decisions?
You must also take into consideration the interconnectedness of decisions. For example, if you’re thinking about a product launch, consider how it will impact your channel program. “Don’t make decisions in isolation because it’s never about one thing, "Bova said. "Think about the things that you can you combine to be more successful."
And then there's sequence, the order in which you do things, the timing. Business acceleration isn’t always achieved by acceleration. “Establish a sequence of timing that matches your company’s ability to respond to various growth initiatives, such as to slow down, to make sense of the data and patterns, issues and opportunities. Build a healthy rhythm in business — take more time to think,” she said.
Bova delved into several of the 10 paths to growth, with the top one being the customer experience. For partners that means moving away from selling products to being customer led and thinking about customers' customers. It means using a customer- centric approach to achieve growth and drive customer obsession throughout the organization.