Success is seldom an accident. Nor should it come as a surprise. After all, success – let’s define that here as a continuing trajectory of sales growth – is the goal, isn’t it? What often does come as a surprise, however, is when sales growth happens rapidly, sometimes becoming unmanageable and spiraling out of control. When that happens, it can bring chaos that negatively impacts your customer base, your employee culture, and your company’s reputation. It can even threaten your company’s very survival! It doesn’t have to be this way. Sales growth can be forecast. It can be managed. Success can be sustained. Let’s take a closer look:
Rapid Growth is a Good Problem – But It’s Still a Problem
Business owners often inherently believe two things: 1) growth is good, and 2) rapid growth is better. Truth is, however, that too much of a good thing can be a very bad thing. You should never be completely surprised by growth. Rapid growth should never catch you off guard. And you should never “find” yourself in a position of reacting to unexpected sales growth rather than managing planned growth.
Know Your Tipping Point
The first step to positioning your company against the dangers of unforeseen growth is to, well, foresee it. With proper sales forecasting tools, effective sales processes, and a well-designed CRM system in place, growth at any pace should come as no surprise. Armed with the foresight that those tools can bring, you can see the short- and long-term bigger picture. And somewhere in that bigger picture is your “tipping point”.
The tipping point is that moment (probably more of a narrow time frame for our purposes) when all of your sales factors – strategies, pipeline, processes, market conditions, market awareness of your product and more – come together in a way that suddenly turn effort into results. Think of it as a perfect storm of events when all your hard work and planning come together to create growth. Serious growth. A sudden and sometimes exponential rise in sales.
Consider Jenga®. You know, it’s that nerve-wracking game where you stack wooden blocks in layers of three, alternating the direction of the layers. You then take turns removing one block at a time from a lower level and placing it on the top level. At first, as the tower grows, things are stable and the game moves quickly with sure-handed moves that take little real analysis of what will be the best move. But suddenly, as the tower gets higher and higher, every move becomes critical until one player removes one block too many and the whole tower tips and falls. You’ve reached the tipping point! So it is with the problem of rapid sales growth. Trying to reach too high without shoring up your base will leave your sales foundation unstable.
Slow Down to Grow Faster (and Higher)
In the short run, just as in the Jenga® game, you can simply reallocate your sales resources. This will help you keep pace with slower growth. In fact, one advantage of running a small- to medium-sized business is that you can be nimble. You can make these quick shifts in resources to respond to opportunities and market conditions. What you can’t do, however, is expect these resources – over the long haul – to do the work of a much larger sales organization. That means you will need to keep close eye on your priorities and not venture far from your sales plan. While managing your business and sales operations from a controlled perspective, you can undertake a strategic and measured approach to growing your resource base so you can handle the escalation of sales. This, of course, requires a plan.
Have a Plan (and Work It)
By utilizing and analyzing your CRM, and the subsequent sales forecast that are derived from that tool, you should be able to foresee the tipping point and act at just the right times to adjust your sales resources and sales processes to keep growth manageable. This should be your strategic plan all along. To manage according to that plan, you will need to decide when it is right to take certain actions in advance of your planned growth. These can include:
- Hiring new sales staff and support resources either for the longer term or to accommodate seasonal or periodic sales spikes
- Onboarding and training these sales resources with enough lead time to continue to serve your customers well
- Increasing equipment, resource capacity, production capacity, and inventory as required
- Managing your cash flow and securing new financing to fuel anticipated growth if necessary
Growth Comes at a Price
Growth can be a good thing. Managed growth can be a great thing. But it will inevitably create change; and change can be uncomfortable. In other words, growth comes at a price. It will change the way you operate and will change your employee culture. It will create new management challenges. It will cause you to evaluate and change your sales processes, to modify your sales territories and responsibilities. It will take you and your sales staff outside your comfort zones.
But, when you think about it, growth and fulfillment and success don’t happen inside comfort zones. So the price can be worth the hardships; and the hardships can be foreseen and managed if you have a plan and work it.
At Sales Xceleration, we know that any sales and business growth – small or large, slow or rapid – requires foresight and management. Success by growth should never come as a surprise. It should, rather, be planned, foreseeable, manageable and sustainable. When we are called in to assist a business, it is sometimes to help boost sales; but sometimes we are called upon to help handle sudden growth. Regardless of when we enter the situation as a Sales Advisor or Outsourced VP of Sales, we do what all businesses should do: build in a plan for managed growth.
Growth is good. Rapid growth doesn’t have to be a threat to your business.
To learn how a Sales Xceleration Advisor can help your company plan and manage sales growth, reach out today.