Emerging growth opportunities: part 2

(Editor’s note: this is the second of two parts. Read part 1.)

The discussion to this point will leave some CEO and entrepreneurial readers at a decision crossroads. OK, if I’ve made the case that it’s time to turn attention back to growing sales and increased attention to marketing, the next question is where/how. For example, does the CEO spend on:

• Increasing the size of the sales team?
• Launch a strategy based on partnering or international expansion?
• Create a new web site and do a deep dive on e-marketing?
• Improve customer support capabilities?
• Branding and awareness activities such as media, events, collateral, etc?
• Lead generation activities?
• All of the above?

After all, it’s a faster and less expensive path to some kind of result doing just one or more of the above actions independently than it is to pause, take a step back and make sure the overall marketing and sales strategies are optimized, aligned and in concert with the plans and actions of the other functional areas of the company (IT, manufacturing, F&A, etc.).

What short-sighted CEOs tend to miss or ignore in the quest for rapid revenue expansion is the quality and efficiency of careful strategic market planning. They must guard against the attractiveness of short term results at the expense of long term sustainable growth.

The shotgun approach to growth “let’s get something out there quickly to seize the opportunity and realize some sales revenue fast even if it is not 100 percent efficient” is a black hole in the corporate planning process. All too often, after executing to such a plan, the CEO will look back and lament that the inefficiencies of such plans far outweigh any near term revenue growth. That is, they will often find that the cost of sales was very high, their close rates were poor, margins suffered, leads were of poor quality, the sales team is selling to the wrong customers, and customer loyalty is abysmal. Bottom line – the “Ready, Fire, Aim” approach is ultimately a poor one.

So when does a CEO/Entrepreneur know whether he/she should leverage the advent of the pending economic expansion to rethink their overall strategic market plan vs. simply investing in some rapid results realized from investing in lower cost (initially) and faster to market tactical marketing efforts? The answer lies in the company’s ability and willingness to undertake an unbiased look at their existing marketing and sales strategies/plans in light of the emerging new world of opportunities and choices today.

The company leadership team must be satisfied that they have a comprehensive, executable strategic marketing and sales plan that details tactical steps and time lines they will follow to drive growth during this time of emerging opportunity.

Does the plan need updating to reflect the look of the company after the crisis of the last several years? It could be a major mistake to think that the plans that the company diligently put together before the recent crisis will play in the same way after the crisis. After all, the “look” of the company entering the crisis is likely different than the one emerging from the crisis.

Smaller companies who are either just forming or somehow weathered the economic storm of the past several years may never have had strategic marketing and sales plans or had very poor ones at best. It is critical to them that they realize the importance of having quality strategic plans to maximize the silver bullets of their limited budgets to burn on growth.

The conclusions or key take-aways’ from this discussion is that regardless of whether yours is a new company or an existing company that has come through the past several years:

• Experts tell us we’re emerging from the cost control and corporate realignment phase of the current economic down turn and entering a top line revenue growth period
• Create, refine, or redo your strategic marketing and sales plans and tactics
• Avoid the allure of shotgun marketing as we emerge from crisis and return to growth
• Proper strategic sales and marketing plans cost less and deliver higher ROI
• Take the time to do it right – pay now or pay more later

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Categories: Company Perspectives, Sales & Marketing