Entrepreneurs

Why the Secret to Fast Growth Is to Sell Fewer Things to Fewer People

As a strategic coach, I work with companies to figure out how to go from a couple million to a couple hundred million in revenue, which is a very challenging phase of growth. The key to getting to that next level is zeroing in on a strategy that is both effective and highly scalable.

The irony is, the faster you want to scale a business, the more you need to focus your strategy. This includes choosing a specific product or service that you are uniquely good at as well as identifying a specific customer who you serve particularly well.

That said, here are five key steps you can follow to identify a strategy that will allow you to scale more quickly, and with less drama.

1. Identify your core customer.

The first thing to do is figure out exactly who your best customer is. Clearly identifying the segment where you are most successful will allow you to focus your sales and marketing efforts and optimize your spending.

The fact is, most companies try to sell to too many types of customers and water down their efforts. Find the one that works best and double down.

The best way to identify your core customer is to look at your current customer base and ask three key questions: Who are your most profitable customers? Who are customers which are easy to serve? Which customers will promote you in the industry or have a reputation that allows you to sell more effectively?

By asking these three questions and seeing which customers rise to the top, you’ll begin to identify what types of customers you should go out and find more of.

2. Shed any and all bad fits.

The next step is difficult for most companies but critical for scaling a business. Once you identify your customer you need to stop doing business with everyone else. This doesn’t mean you need to fire all your non-ideal clients tomorrow, but you do need to potentially raise rates, stop offering discounts, not provide extra services, and limit the time and energy you spend on them.

It also means you need to set up filters and qualifications in your sales and marketing funnel to remove prospects who do not fit your core customer profile. While it can be hard to say no, it will free up space for you to search for, find, and close better leads.

3. Hone your products and services.

Once you’ve identified your core customer, you begin to see which of your current products and services create the most value for their business. By slimming down your portfolio and focusing on just those offerings which are the highest value, you can simplify your operations.

While there are many products and services you could provide, the fact is that you have limited time, energy, and resources. You should only focus on those that create the most benefit and that allow you to charge the highest prices to make the highest profit. Doing otherwise is just leaving money on the table.

4. Standardize your processes and procedures

The other benefit of limiting the products and services that you offer is that you can simplify your business. With a limited set of offerings, you reduce the complexity of your processes and procedures as well as the breadth of skills and experiences that you need on your teams. Focusing allows you to simplify and streamline many aspects of your operations.

5. Create a brand promise and guarantee

Now that you’ve identified who specifically you sell to, what product or service you offer them, and what value you create, you can hone your marketing message. By creating a brand promise that clearly communicates to your target customer what it is you do and what benefit they will gain, you will make it much easier to generate leads and close deals.

A brand promise guarantee shows your prospect that you’re willing to put skin in the game and back your product or service with a meaningful and significant commitment. For example, Domino’s knew that delivering on time was so important that they would give you your pizza for free if it wasn’t there in 30 minutes. The rest is history.

Like many aspects of a business, identifying your core customer and core offering is not complicated, but it’s not easy. It takes focus and willingness to make tough decisions and not get distracted by shiny objects.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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