When it comes to having a business, it could go one of three ways:
- You could grow very quickly, which sounds great, but then you could incur into the problem of how to fund this rapid growth and how to find the resources to support it.
- You could grow too slowly and stagnate.
- You could be losing sales and eventually go into bankruptcy.
Sustainable growth is the realistically attainable growth that a company could maintain without running into problems and generate a healthy profit. There are a few tips and tricks you could follow in order to achieve that with your company. Let's explore them together.
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1. Create a powerful brand
As Fast Company states, a powerful brand comes from its ability to develop a personal connection with its customers. In order to get them to return to you and build your brand, you need to really focus on developing and sustaining these relationships over time.
First of all, you need to identify your niche. As quoted in a previous article:
"If you try and sell everything to everybody, you successfully sell nothing to anybody."
David Finch, Purple Frog MD"
Secondly, you need to really identify who your buyer persona is, what their pain points are and show them how you can help them. The trick here is to educate and inform your customers, not interrupt them with ads. So reaching out to them individually on social media with ad hoc posts, or writing very informative blog posts/white papers/guides that cater directly to their needs, is the best way to nurture a relationship with strangers and be found by more potential customers.
If you want to learn more about this technique of educating not interrupting your prospects and customers, download this free ebook that will tell you everything you need to know to grow your business through running inbound campaigns
2. Partnerships and collaborations
We all love growing our businesses, but if it comes down to the scenario one described in the intro, where the growth is too quick, you should always be prepared. One of the big issues that is holding back companies in the UK from growing is the lack of internal resources, but if you know where to find them externally when in need and have good working relationships with freelancers or other similar companies to yours, then you can be confident that you will be able to handle any kind of job that comes your way.
Another great way you can leverage collaborations with other businesses is by starting to refer customers to them and asking them to refer some to you in return. In that way you will have a very solid network of referrals and a continuous stream of new clients coming in.
3. Customer retention and satisfaction
We are sometimes so engrossed with finding and nurturing relationships with new prospects and leads, that we often forget about our customers. As Emmet and Mark Murphy write in their book Leading on the Edge of Chaos, acquiring new customers can cost an organization around five times more than retaining current ones. In fact, a 2% increase in customer retention can have the same effect as decreasing a company’s costs by 10%.
If you start considering customers as more than just a sale, but you introduce the possibility of them coming back time and time again, that will increase their lifetime value to you. For instance, if you can work out that the average customer makes a annual purchase of £10k and you manage to get them to stay with your company for around 3 consecutive years (instead of 1), their lifetime value to you will be £30k. If you can get the relationship going for more than one year, then, that is effectively £20k in new business.
That is why your business should have a marketing plan and budget for 'new business from old customers', and you should start treating your client base as leads and prospects.
By delighting your customers, not only will they be returning, but they will also become promoters of your business, bringing in more customers in turn.
The issue with this is that, as James Allen from Bain says, 80% of companies, when asked, believe they deliver a superior proposition to their customers, but if you ask the customers of those companies, in only 8% of cases do they agree. They refer to this as a delivery gap, the difference between what you think you’re doing and the reality of how customers perceive you.
Try and integrating surveys and net promoter scores into your business, asking your customers to give you feedback after every interaction. In that way you will have an objective view on customer satisfaction and will know what areas you need to improve in.
4. Repeatable sales and retainers
You know you have achieved this when you have a sales conversion rate and revenue that you can consistently forecast. This can be done by implementing repeatable models and processes that will save you planning time and assure you success every time and with every customer.
Another great idea is to try and hook your clients and prospects into a retainer model, rather than getting them to pay on an individual sale basis, so that you have some predictable, fixed income every month.
5. Have a brilliant team
Having engaged employees often means having happier and more loyal customers, getting from them a higher level of productivity and work quality and spending less in recruitment costs. In order to keep your employees engaged and motivated, create a positive environment, reward high-performing teams and recruit the right staff that will fit in your company culture.
6. Keep analysing and revising your strategies
In business, it's never a case of discovering a model or strategy that works and sticking to it for decades. The world changes quickly, and you need to be able to adapt. Keep analysing all your strategies on a regular basis (and that is more than once every year) to identify what works, what needs tweaking and what isn't working and therefore it's best to concentrate your resources elsewhere.
According to Forbes research, companies able to analyse and successfully exploit the information they hold outperform their peers by up to 20%.
7. Align your sales and marketing
This is something that we constantly repeat to our customers. Bringing your sales and marketing team together by making them focused on the same revenue goals is absolutely crucial for a company to be able to grow. In fact, your sales team will know a lot better the issues that customers have, and marketing can build campaigns around them, but this will only work if there is complete collaboration between the two. In this way, the marketing team will be able to generate more qualified leads that your sales team will then turn into customers. More customers = more sustainable revenue.
These are quite a few tips, and you can either go for all of them, or choose to really focus on one and measure whether it's giving you the growth you want or not. In any case, always analyse the effects of any strategy you implement in your business, in order to ensure you are on the right path for success.