10 Paths to Growing Your Business

growth iq

Grow Your Company with Confidence

 

How organizations keep growing in the face of stiff competition, a fast-changing business environment, constant innovation, and technology changes is a constant issue for executives. In Growth IQ: Get Smarter About the Choices that Will Make or Break Your Business, Tiffani Bova shares ten simple paths to growth in this environment.

Tiffani Bova is the global customer growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce. Her work over the last twenty years spans startups to the Fortune 500. I recently spoke with her about her work.

 

“The one thing about growth is, it is never one thing.” – Tiffani Bova

 

Common Growth Mistakes

What are some of the common mistakes leaders make when trying to reenergize growth?

One of the most vexing challenges faced by executives is determining how best to grow their business. Unfortunately, these challenges to grow have multiplied in recent years. The problem is that too many companies respond to a competitive threat, or a market disruption, with a strategic business model that worked in the past and may not work in the future. Growth strategy is a thinking game that works when you have the right mindset to inform the when, where and why of every strategic move you make. I have yet to find a company that can attribute their growth to one silver bullet. The impact of combining multiple efforts will be greater than the sum of its parts. Reenergizing growth starts with being open to getting uncomfortable with the status quo and comfortable with change.

 

Why do companies so often fail to duplicate a growth strategy from an industry rival?

Too many companies ‘benchmark’ their company against their rival or a set of competitors in the same industry. While benchmarking can be a worthwhile exercise, it can also lend itself to a limited view of what is happening in the overall market. Widening the lens to look at overall context, on the other hand, allows companies to look for best practices from other sectors and learn from innovation happening across industries. What is happening in consumer spending patterns? What technology advancements have happened which you can capitalize on? How are people engaging with brands? What is the sentiment towards big social issues? The insights we can glean from these questions are invaluable when setting a growth strategy.

Furthermore, benchmarking is an outside-in view focused mostly on products and business models. Meaning, you are only able to understand their business from an outsider’s perspective. It is the inner workings, or the mental model, of a company’s growth strategy that is their ‘secret sauce’ – it is what differentiates them from each other especially in highly competitive markets.  The fact is, companies rarely have the same products, customers, value propositions or go-to-market strategies or more importantly, culture. So, attempting to replicate another company’s strategy, may sound like a good plan, yet rarely delivers expected results, or worse it could backfire and have long-term negative impact on the company overall. There are exceptions to this statement of course, especially in highly commoditized industries where ‘price’ is what companies compete on, but any value-based product will require more than that as a solid growth strategy.

 

“Customer Experience is the new Black.” – Tiffani Bova

 

The Challenge of Customer Experience

How to Build A Customer Driven Growth Engine

Customer Culture

Not too long ago, I spoke with Jeanne Bliss about the 7 Inhibitors to Customer Driven Growth.  Jeanne’s new book Chief Customer Officer 2.0: How to Build Your Customer-Driven Growth Engine is a success roadmap for leaders wanting to build a customer-focused organization.

Jeanne also answered my questions about how to establish a customer culture, social media strategy, leadership, earning the right to grow, and establishing a sense of urgency:

 

Establishing a Customer Centric Culture

“Culture is the action, not the words.” How do you connect corporate aspirations with employees’ actions?

For customer-driven work to be transformative and stick, it must be more than a customer manifesto. Commitment to customer-driven growth is proven with action and choices. To engender this culture, people need examples. They need proof.

 

“Culture is the action, not the words.” -Jeanne Bliss

 

Customer culture is talked about by many leaders but misunderstood by most organizations. “Commitment” to customers must be attached to deliberate operational behavior, such as, “We will go to market only after these 12 customer requirements are met” or “Every launch must meet these five conditions, which the field requires for success. We won’t launch without them, no exceptions.”  People inside organizations need to see the commitment translated to actions that they will feel proud to follow and emulate.

Moving well past words, a deliberate and united set of leadership actions and behaviors practiced in unison is required.

One of the first activities we often undertake to unite leaders is to employ the journey framework to build an operational “code of conduct.”

 

codeofconduct (1)

 

7 Inhibitors to Customer Driven Growth

7 Key Inhibitors

Jeanne Bliss is an expert on customer-centric leadership. Her new book Chief Customer Officer 2.0: How to Build Your Customer-Driven Growth Engine is a success roadmap for leaders wanting to build a customer-focused organization.  Jeanne pioneered the Chief Customer Officer position and has held the job for twenty years at Lands’ End, Allstate, Coldwell Banker, Mazda and Microsoft. She has led Customer Bliss since 2002 where she has consulted with some of the world’s largest companies.

With all of her experience and research, the very first thing I wanted to know was about the mistakes leaders are making.  She shared with me the 7 growth inhibitors companies are making again and again.

 

“Culture is the action, not the words.” -Jeanne Bliss

 

What mistakes are holding companies back from building a customer-driven organization?

 

Are You Making These Mistakes?

There are 7 key inhibitors that companies stumble over in trying to earn customer-driven growth:

1. Not having executives engaged in the effort.

Often executives will say that they want to focus on the customer experience, but they hand off the tasks to a department or area to work on it. It is hard to sustain this work without executive involvement driving the new prioritization, removing actions that are in the way, and giving people permission to work together.

2. Starting with a mantra, not an action plan.

Often companies decide that they want to get some early traction by telling everyone to “focus on customer experience.” What happens next is that people realize this is a big corporate priority and begin making plans, creating new scoreboards and taking action. A lot of action occurs, executives get a false-positive that change is occurring, but it eventually stalls out because the actions don’t add up to improve complete end-to-end customer experiences.

3. Not defining the customer experience and gaining alignment.

The most potent recurring use for the journey map is to guide work and discussions from the customer perspective. Without this framework to unite efforts, silo work continues to proliferate.

4. Not breaking the work into actionable pieces.