Like many of you I’ve a few years under my belt around lead generation where my job was to produce a high quantity of quality leads that keep the sales pipeline full and moving. For me, this work typically entailed identifying, connecting, and engaging with ideal customers who will benefit from your solutions and are cost-effective to acquire and serve. Success depends on how well we understand the customer buying journey and buyer personas and then leveraging appropriate messaging, content, and channels. A critical step is to develop a lead scoring methodology in partnership with the Sales team so that sales-worthy and sales-ready opportunities are properly nurtured and forwarded. With testing and campaign performance data, we improve the process and hone the machine with an unabated focus on increasing the conversion rate along the stages of the buying journey, the win rate, and decreasing the sales cycle. Hence the increased investment in Martech tools designed to support the machine.
Lead generation is a relentless machine. And it is all about this month’s, this quarter’s, or, if you have a long sales cycle, this year’s deals. While growing your business takes a solid lead gen process and machine, to truly achieve organic growth you need a growth machine. What’s the difference?
One word. Focus. The focus of a lead generation machine is leads. The focus of a growth machine is growth. When Marketing is a lead gen machine, every decision is about how to create more opportunities in the pipeline. When Marketing is a growth machine, every decision, strategy, program, and tactic is about where to find and create long-term, sustainable, profitable growth. While many of the same tools and channels, such as content, influencers, and events, are used in both, they are applied through a different lens in each.
How to Make Organic Growth a Priority
Organic growth is a valuable Key Performance Indicator (KPI). It reflects the rate a company expands through its own business activity. It requires companies to create competitive advantages, differentiate and innovate their product/service offerings, and home in on viable existing and new customer opportunities. In an environment where mergers and acquisitions have been prevalent, it is still vital to create organic growth in the company you buy or merge with. McKinsey has explored the value of acquisitions and mergers and found that quite often companies do not realize enough value for the premium they paid.
Quick and easy incremental opportunities, such as finding new customer groups, adding sales channels, and growing product line extensions are important initiatives, but this can lead to confusing the market and customers if there isn’t an overall growth strategy that crosses product and service lines and encompasses the entire business. Therefore, it’s understandable that every CEO we meet with says organic growth is a priority. (Check out the Ready, Set, Grow! CEO recordings for the CEO perspective on achieving organic growth.)
At VEM, we believe strongly in making organic growth a priority. Start with these five steps:
- Define and build a culture that will help fuel growth. Companies with a culture oriented toward solving customer problems are more likely to succeed. Growth cultures are data- and performance-oriented because they are typically focused on results.
- Identify the highest-potential opportunities. This requires looking for growth in the right places, which takes data. Use your resources to gather the data, and then create an appropriate strategy.
- Set growth performance targets. For your growth machine to be successful, you need to be clear about what growth means and how you want to pursue it. Monitor progress against the strategy and targets and adjust accordingly.
- Establish a growth fund. Growth takes investment. If organic growth is truly important, set aside the budget line item to make it happen.
- Implement growth-oriented processes. These processes should enable you to grow revenue quickly and define how you will go to market, how you will engage and attend to customers, and how you will produce and deliver solutions that solve customer problems.
While there is no single secret to facilitating growth in your field, to achieve it you need to have validated that there is a market problem that your product/service solves in a compelling and meaningful way. Growth is a mindset and takes deliberate action. It also requires that you are willing to take risks. To grow you will have to experiment and venture outside your comfort zone. Such unfamiliar territory might include testing new channels and routes to market. Be adamant and passionate about data, which helps you to know what to do and how to change. Use what you’ve learned, both what’s worked and what hasn’t, to accelerate your efforts.
Looking for more ideas for how to transform your organization into a growth machine? Read our new book Fast-Track Your Business: A Customer-Centric Approach to Accelerate Market Growth.
The original version of this article was first published on VisionEdge Marketing.