This week Ian Smith our COO shares some thoughts on scaling businesses. It’s not just about growth but must include control, predictability, alignment and safety.
I thought it would be useful summarizing 10 quick reasons why companies are failing to scale and what to do about it. But first, think of scaling as five outcomes you want to achieve: Growth, Alignment, Predictability, Control, Safety – GAPCS. Scaling is more than just growth. And my top 10 reasons companies are failing to scale are as follows:
10 REASONS WHY COMPANIES ARE FAILING TO SCALE
Complexity: You’re making your story way too complicated. Simplify, simplify and then simplify your offering. Explain how it changes peoples’ lives. I don’t care if it’s a legal practice, productivity software, wireless technology, whatever. Stop thinking corporate and start thinking humanity. Talk to people in plain English. Because most web sites are mumbling corporate nonsense!
Alignment: Department heads (even if there are only 10 of you) are running around like headless chickens, but are the big audacious goals of the CEO being moved forward? Align your talent’s detailed actions around the big goals. A small player that’s well aligned can win against the big boys if the product is good enough. However a great product is not enough. You need to align the whole company around the success of the customer. Specifically for us we see companies struggling to understand the importance of testing as they launch new product lines or introduce new materials to their process.
Marketing Narratives: These are not setting up the sales team for success. They are not carrying the right story to the market. That story needs to explain the outcomes you deliver. These stories need to highlight the consequences of your prospects not using your service or technology. We find detailed case studies are a great way of showing how our products can bring value to specific applications.
Marketing Calendars: The world of online and print magazines works to a calendar. You’ll never change that. So build your content around editorial calendars. Get ahead of the curve. What’s your theme for your content for December, January, February, March?
Sales Teams: You are letting sales cycles expand. There’s need to be far great urgency driving the timetable of deals. You can’t lose what you don’t have. So ask the tough questions and make your prospects accountable for their actions.
Sales Process: Most companies don’t have one and it shows. You need a methodical process that takes suspects through a diagnostic questioning process. Only when you’ve found the relevant priority issue that you can solve and that the prospect can fund, should you waste your time designing the appropriate solution. And then you can articulate a proposal. There are still way too many quotes flying out the door on a wing and a prayer!
Metrics: You can measure anything these days. Who you are should define what you measure. A SaaS company needs to analyze the cause of attrition, the rate of cancellation in granular detail. An investment bank needs to understand the business winners. If your sales team are trying to penetrate vertical markets then you need to understand the landscape of that vertical and whether if you are gaining market share. Every business has general metrics in common but you also need to discover the parochial ones that matter. In our case we spend a lot of time worrying about the key stages from PO through engineering and validation to the operational date that our customers can use the system.
Metrics: Remember every financial variance has two reasons. Volume and yield. Understand the story behind your numbers. You either sold more or less at a price above or below budget.
Talent: A recently published Gallup poll shows the global engagement % of workers on average was 13%(psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organizations)! Do something about this. Use the research that explains why people come to work. Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. In plain English, give them a job they can own, teach them how to perfect it and reconcile the purpose of the job relative to the goals of the company.
Talent: Build strong training inside your business. Standardize courses to onboard new staff. It’s a great technique to get your company aligned and fit for purpose. It’s also a great recruitment tool.
Good luck scaling your businesses, not just growing them!