Why do the majority of small companies that survive the early years remain small companies whilst a relative few experience quite enviable growth? With our focus on SMEs that sell B2B, let’s consider some business to business strategies for growth that might contribute to a sustained increase in business and those that might detract from or stifle it. It’s not just about having a superior solution or service, although that obviously helps.
Strategies for Growth that Build Market Credibility.
Whether it’s a viable exit strategy you seek or a corporate giant you want to build, there are many aspects of business strategy that can serve to either support or defy your vision. Effective business to business strategies for growth go far beyond just having good solutions or services, they incorporate other key aspects to establish credibility with senior influencers and decision makers. In addition they encompass the internal culture and environment of your own company, so there are many strategic dynamics to get right if you are to achieve a high level of sustained business growth.
Business to Business Strategies to Differ High Growth SMEs from Laggards
Over and above having good solutions or services, what really differs the high growth SME from the laggard? Primarily it comes down to attitude and approach. Strategies for growth that work tend to be built on a firm and justifiable belief and pride in the value that you and your company represent for your clients. This means that you must be prepared to walk away from prospective customers that see you as just another supplier to be beaten down. The upside is that genuine prospects will learn to respect your belief in the quality and value of what your company provides and you are far more likely to convert these prospects into high margin customers.
SME Business to Business Strategies for Corporate Selling Success
Many SMEs experience poor success rates in selling to larger corporates, however their specialist solutions may be well geared to that corporates specific needs. When corporate managers look to source key solutions they tend to be drawn to those rare potential suppliers that consistently demonstrate genuine trusted advisor behaviours. They take steps to avoid those that try to flog their solution regardless of whether it is a good fit for the client or not. Too many suppliers lead with their solution, laying out their stall and trying to see if they can make the customer’s problem fit what they have to sell.
Six Client Facing Steps Towards Strategies for Growth
- Ask constructive and thought-provoking client-serving rather than self-serving questions.
- Seek to fully understand the clients problem, requirements, environment and political dynamics.
- Seek to identify where you might be able to deliver true value in resolution of the problem.
- Avoid ever suggesting potential solutions before you have fully achieved the steps above
- Negotiate a mutually viable deal with the client if and when it becomes appropriate to do so.
- Hold firm, never “pitching” or devaluing your own offerings through weak negotiation.
Balanced Business to Business Strategies for Growth
The irony is that most SMEs that survive the early years remain small because they are often too focussed on trying to sell to uncover a prospects genuine business needs. Balanced business to business strategies for growth put the SME and large corporate prospect on an equal footing rather than allowing the corporate to dominate. Too many SMEs allow themselves to be bullied by large corporates or convinced that if they accept badly compromised margins on the first deal they will be able to make it up on the volume that follows. Then to add insult to injury, the corporate may turn out to be a slow payer, thus compromising already poor margins even further.
It’s People That Galvanise Companies for Growth or Hold Them Back
Getting the people right has got to be the most important aspect of any business strategy. Far too many companies let the wrong people stay for far too long. Everyone that works for a company should be considered as having an unwritten contract that they will contribute significantly more to the company than they will take from it. Unfortunately most companies large or small carry a number of people whose poor attitude or lack of ability means they are more of a burden than a benefit. The momentum you gain by removing the wrong people and getting the right people on board can create a formidable force to accelerate you company towards your chosen destination.
Evolving Your Business to Business Strategies Step by Step
Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither was a great SME ever built in a day or even a year for that matter. The important thing is to have a progressive strategy that helps you evolve your business over time. It’s about knowing where you want to go, how you intend to get there and where you expect to be by when. And remember, it’s people that make a company what it is, whether good or bad. Surrounding yourself with good capable people who can share your strategic vision for growth, whilst divesting yourself of those that can’t or won’t contribute enough will greatly increase your odds of success. Working with a good business coach will provide structure and fresh ideas to help you get your company to where you want it to be.