Since the pandemic many businesses working in B2B markets have found increased growth opportunities as their clients refocus their own efforts on growth. But not everyone benefits from market growth, only those business teams who are proactive and taking the right approach. Many marketplaces are starting to see a slow down as consumer spending reduces, interest rates rise and real economic growth (not inflationary growth) slows. So what is the right approach to grow your business? Here I share my top 10 tips for unlocking the true growth potential of your business.
1. Set goals: Define your “why” and set targets to meet your goals
Nothing changes until we change. The first step in growing our business is to set a growth goal. Without a goal, we’re without direction.
Set a straightforward goal you and your team can clearly define and understand. For example, it could be:
“To be the first choice for customers looking for coaching services in the South of England” or “To be the leader in project consulting in the East of England.”
Then understand WHY you want to achieve that goal. Why is it important to you personally? This creates internal drive and motivation so that you are still motivated to continue when the going gets tough.
Finally, define the targets you want to meet. What level of revenue do you want to achieve? What level of profit? How many customers? How many projects and how often? What size team?
By defining these targets, you create a point of focus and understanding why you want to achieve them and it gives you drive.
2. Enroll your team on the mission
You can only communicate your goals with meaning to your team when you’re clear on them yourself.
Having a bigger purpose is incredibly powerful for teams. We all gain confidence from knowing the business wants to grow, so enroll them in your mission.
When you’re in a growing business, there’s an energy that inspires the entire team, and customers can feel it when they engage with you and your team.
Remember that business growth is a team sport. It can only happen when all of your team are on board. I advise discussing your plans as a team and with each team member 1:1.
Understand the motivation for each of them and agree on a reward for being part of the growth ambitions. Think from your team’s perspective – WIIFM (what’s in it for me).
3. Find a mentor, coach or trainer
None of us are outstanding at everything in our work and we can all benefit in learning from people who have mastered specific skills and experiences. I recommend reviewing your business goals and asking the question – “What’s missing within our team, that guarantees we’ll meet these goals?” This helps you identify the key gaps in knowledge, skills, experience and systems that you need to address. If your focus is on growth then two key areas are marketing & sales.
Ensure your marketing approach is one that understands your customers and helps you better communicate in a way that’s highly relevant and compelling to potential and existing customers.
Whoever is responsible for sales in your team, make sure they take a customer-centric and question-led approach to their sales conversations. If you have a team that are ‘pitching’ to customers all the time, your business will literally be turning customers away. Customers need to be understood for many reasons, one of those reasons is so that they can choose to buy from you (not be sold to).
If sales & marketing are not core skills in your team then growth will be compromised, find experts who can upskill you and your team. When your team perform better your business grows faster, it’s common sense.
4. Work on your leadership skills to create a high-performing business team
Leadership is a skill that is developed over time. It’s different from management. I heard a Grace Hopper quote many years ago: “You don’t manage people; you manage things. You lead people.” It’s true, people want to be led, and they need a leader.
Without one, teams drift and engagement and motivation wains. Start to work on leadership, in particular coaching leadership. Engage your teams, and have regular conversations. Ask them questions, understand what motivates them and what they need from you as their leader to perform at the highest level.
Learn to develop your coaching skills, and you’ll build a team that thrives, and when your team thrives, so does your business. Customers can ‘sense’ a happy, motivational environment, and they want to come back time and again, talk about it and refer their friends.
5. Keep the customer at the heart of everything you do
There is no business without customers. Taking time to regularly discuss the customer experience with your team and keep them focused on improving it raises standards.
When we create a ‘best in class’ customer experience, we set ourselves apart from our competition. The small things are the big things for our customers. Become intentional about the customer experience and the continual evolution of your business team to become truly world-class. I’ve found that just the conversation about becoming world class changes the way a team thinks and acts, and that many teams haven’t even considered it until the discussion about it. Try it yourself, you’ll be surprised at what you find.
6. Upgrade your team’s consultative communication & selling skills
The optimal way to communicate with our teams and customers is in a consultative way. That means creating a little more time and space in the conversations, not rushing people, being curious, listening and asking meaningful questions.
When you take a question-led approach to your communication, you’re continually learning from people, and from the feedback, you gain additional insights that help you connect the dots.
Helping our team be more consultative means that everyone starts to learn more and be open to feedback. That inspires personal and professional growth. When we get better, we create more value, and that value is rewarded in the market with increased customer demand, loyalty and rewards.
7. Communicate progress and keep your team motivated
Once you’re on a growth journey, it’s too easy to ‘set and forget’ the goals. Without frequent communication, updating, feedback and adjustment, we can lose momentum and focus.
One of the key elements of leadership is continuous communication with our teams, collectively and individually. Make communication and feedback a rhythm in your business. You’ll feel clearer and more confident about progress, and so will your team.
When you measure your progress, it’s easy to communicate progress, and it’s surprising how much you can achieve in a year!
8. Celebrate every small win along the way
As you communicate progress, remember to celebrate progress. Remember to congratulate and celebrate with your team as you reach your milestones and incremental targets or growth.
It doesn’t have to be an elaborate celebration; simple things make a difference. Bring lunch for everyone, celebrate with a drink or meal at a local restaurant, and present gift vouchers.
All of these small investments in your team will keep them enrolled in the growth journey. Do something regularly, so your team build a positive association with the growth mission you’re on.
9. Find a high-performance peer group
Leadership can be a lonely position, and leaders often feedback that they can feel isolated, even when things are going well. Nobody quite ‘gets it’ unless they’re in a similar position to you.
Finding a high-performance leadership peer group is good for your well-being, and it’s good to support and challenge your thinking. Having a group you can share ideas and learn from can be highly valuable.
That combination of competition and collaboration is very powerful, it works for professional athletes and businesspeople, and you can make it work for you.
10. Enjoy the journey, not just the destination.
When you’re on a growth journey, it can be tempting to focus only on the growth goals, which can create pressure that never ends. Remember to create time to take stock regularly, appreciate the progress you’ve made and measure how far you’ve already come.
Take time each week to be grateful for your business, team, customers, family and friends. Remind yourself to enjoy each day and make an effort to fall in love with the process and the progress.
When you enjoy the work you’re doing, life flows. If your life doesn’t flow right now, and you want it to, make one of your goals to enjoy every day, be present and live your life fully.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this Top 10 list, this approach has helped lots of people transform their businesses.
Justin Leigh is the Founder of Focus4growth a Sales & Leadership Training company specializing in B2B markets. He’s the bestselling author of Inspire, Influence, Sell and works with some of the fastest growing businesses in the world. Justin is about to publish his new book Coaching Leaders – Unlock your leadership superpower in June 2023.
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