In 2014 SiriusDecisions introduced their Intelligent Growth Model which detailed five pillars of growth that companies could choose from or combine as part of their business growth strategy. The five are:
- Expand into new markets – geographical expansion, vertical market expansion
- Introduce new offerings – add additional product offers with new revenue streams
- Sell to new buyers – sell existing products to those you haven’t reached before
- Increase productivity – improve effectiveness in marketing & sales
- Acquisitions – acquire businesses as a source of expanded revenue
Taking a closer look at these, I’d segment them into these two categories:
- Growth via Business Expansion: includes #1 (expanding into new geographies or verticals), #2 (expanding with additional products) and #5 (expanding by acquiring other businesses).
- Growth via Business Improvement / Optimization: These apply to growing an existing product in an existing market, and in this case the two options are #3 (new buyers) or #4 (productivity).
The second category is more universally relevant, as every line of business can relate to it as management teams plan growth for existing products in existing markets typically as part of an annual business planning cycle. When planning business growth in these scenarios, teams can categorize growth drivers into two high level buckets:
#1 - Growth in marketing qualified leads and opportunities
#2 - Improvement in sales performance metrics (e.g. win rate, average order value) – I use the term ‘sales’ to describe the business process, not the department, as sales performance metrics are influenced by sales, marketing and product management – as you’ll see below.
When planning for growth within a product line, management teams should agree on to which degree these two areas will contribute to that growth – as that decision will foster alignment, and may impact other investment decisions including resources and budget.
As part of that decision, there are many potential levers to consider within each of the two buckets – let’s take a closer look.
To grow marketing qualified leads (and resultant opportunities) here are 10 levers to consider:
- Grow web traffic (via SEO, SEM, Social Media, Influencer Marketing, PR programs)
- Grow website conversion rates (make website more effective in converting visitors from #1 to MQIs or MQLs)
- Improve web conversion rates through post-visit tactics such as abandonment techniques or retargeting
- Grow MQIs through expansion of or improvement in MQI generation programs (“Growing the top of the funnel” – e.g. content, webinars)
- Improve MQI to MQL conversion rates and velocity via optimization of lead nurturing programs and/or expansion or sales development / teleprospecting resources (more MQLs via "optimizing middle of funnel")
- Grow incremental MQI/MQLs via highly targeted account-based sales and marketing programs (“small net fishing”)
- Improve the effectiveness of sales development / teleprospecting resources through tools including lead prioritization engines, predictive lead scoring or training
- Generate more upsell MQLs from customer base via educational programs or specific upsell paths
- Generate more MQIs/MQLs through harnessing customer base via community, advocacy or referral programs (typically a longer term strategy)
- Grow partner generated leads by expanding number of ‘push’ partners actively marketing your offerings and/or adding additional marketing programs implemented via partners
And to improve sales performance metrics, here are 10 levers to consider:
- Grow MQL-to-opportunity rate via improved lead response times
- Grow MQL-to-opportunity rate via developing, improving or optimizing MQL follow up programs (conversation guides, email messaging & sequences)
- Grow MQL-to-opportunity rate via follow up techniques or data (e.g. leveraging of multiple contacts at an account)
- Grow win rate through applying sales process around ensuring the right criteria is applied to choose which deals are qualified
- Grow win rate through more effective enablement of a champion buyer (enabling that buyer to more effectively sell up/across their organization) – this could be via conversations, content and/or technologies
- Grow win rate through focus on urgency drivers (including content to position the buying decision vs. the downside, risk or pain attached to the status quo)
- Grow win rate through the development of specific competitive content or positioning vs. key competitors
- Grow win rate through development of new product functionality to address top loss or no decision reasons (a process for win/loss analysis will help uncover and prioritize these)
- Grow average order value through product packaging or bundling
- Grow average order value through price increases (hey, you gotta consider it right!)
Aligning around the how of growth, first at the high level and then into the specific growth drivers, is a key step to achieving the growth that every business wants.