Growing sales changes everything!
So how do growing businesses achieve it?
All small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) want to grow sales, but the reality is that a high proportion do not for a variety of reasons, both internal through lack of planning and external because of strong competition and difficulty in accessing growth finance.
The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills’ report on SMEs: The Key Enablers of Business Success and the Economic Rationale for Government Intervention (December 2013) highlights that almost half of all SMEs don’t plan, which is a worrying thought since an important driver to success is building a sales strategy.
A recent poll of SMEs attending a forum hosted by Henley Business School identified sales growth as a key challenge and that having a sales strategy was considered important to the majority of SMEs.
Sales growth is delivered by a well-defined and executed sales strategy.
Recent studies have suggested that SMEs with sales in the range £2m to £10m find it difficult to break through this range and those that do represent a small percentage of the total. These SMEs in particular (but not excluding those with higher or lower sales) are looking for growth in sales. Of course, in the absence of sales growth life becomes a challenge for SMEs, particularly if they have invested in infrastructure in anticipation of a growth in sales.
It was Guy Kawasaki, former Apple evangelist and founder of Garage Technology Ventures in Silicon Valley, who said that growing sales fixes everything. This is true and sales growth provides the basis for a sustainable business. The question is ‘how does the SME deliver sales growth?’ in the face of an ever-changing business environment. The answer is a combination of things, most importantly having a robust customer-driven sales strategy and executing it well, a well trained sales operation, and sales-focused leadership and management practices.
The new Henley Business School SME open programme entitled Winning and Developing Customers, developed from the successful one-day workshop launched in 2014, helps SMEs answer this question.