Driving Top-Line Growth In A Turnaround

by | 29 Feb 2024 | Valtus News

For an organisation seeking to transform its fortunes, the first port of call is often cost-cutting measures and efficiencies, with revenue growth taking a back seat.

As I see it, given the rapidly evolving way customers interact with businesses, it is vital companies also reassess and reshape how they sell their products and services. If the top line is stagnating or decreasing, there is only so far that cost-cutting will take you when it comes to boosting profitability.

I recently brought together three business transformation specialists for a webinar produced jointly with The Institute For Turnaround (IFT), to discuss how organisations can drive top-line growth.

I was joined by IFT Fellow and industrial transformation specialist Ian Parker, interim B2B sales and marketing director Jon Tobbell, and digital and e-commerce expert James Coughlan, who are all part of the Valtus network.

Here we look at the themes that emerged during their conversation and the key points to consider when targeting top-line growth in your organisation.

Put sales at the heart of your top-line turnaround

Despite the importance of sales, there is often a lack of understanding about it among senior leaders and therefore a reticence to instigate change.

That’s a mistake because reinvigorating a sales team can make a big difference relatively quickly. Where they don’t exist, putting in place clear KPIs and regular reviews that hold salespeople to account will rapidly drive higher performance. Equally, when the CEO recognises the value of change in the sales team and takes an interest, the team is more likely to respond.

To cement sustainable long-term success, a clear and consistent sales process needs to be developed and put in place, alongside clarity around your proposition and pricing.

Make sure the customer comes first

The people with the best insights into where your product, service, or ongoing support isn’t hitting the mark are your customers.

However, although they power a business, most C-suite executives rarely come into contact with them. Instead, they rely on information from their salespeople who are very good at polishing a message that reflects well on them. A customer will give you the cold, hard truth about what motivates them, where you may be dropping the ball as a company, and which competitors are outdoing you.

I have seen many times across industries that a crucial step toward understanding where change is needed is talking to as many customers as possible, so their voice is heard in the C-suite.

Understand the market landscape

It’s surprisingly common for sales teams and contact centres to have zero information on hand about their sales funnel, in terms of conversion rates, call leads, quotes that should be followed up, field sales, and so on. This kind of relatively basic information provides critical knowledge about where potential customers stop their journey toward a sale and what your top-performing channels are.

Businesses also need to look beyond their own four walls and carry out competitor analysis. If you can gain insight into a competitor’s products, marketing, and sales processes, you can use it to validate what your sales teams are saying. Both on a qualitative level, in terms of the actual customer experience a competitor provides, and quantitative sales data.

If you can gather this kind of intelligence, it will help your business make better decisions based on evidence rather than instinct.

Convince key stakeholders with a structured plan

As I mentioned earlier, C-suite executives other than the Sales Director, often find sales slightly mystifying and take a hands-off approach. When a Chief Executive is on board with change, it sends a powerful message to the sales team.

So how can you win the support of a CEO? A compelling commercial case for change is hard for them to ignore. Developing a convincing plan will often involve getting into the nitty-gritty sales details such as who are the most profitable customers and which are the most profitable product lines. You can then put actions in place to deal with areas that need improvement.

Support the sales team through change

People, particularly salespeople, tend to like doing things the way they’ve always been done. Communicating the benefits of change for them is one way to overcome a reluctance to embrace new approaches, as is providing training and support to help them get to grips with new tools and processes.

One common problem among salespeople, understandably eager to maintain their relationships, is a reluctance to raise prices. If you can support them to have those difficult conversations and justify price rises to customers, margins are likely to rise swiftly.

You can also incentivise change by ensuring your compensation plan supports the aims of your business. One example I can give is that rather than rewarding high volumes of new sales regardless of their profitability, you may want to focus on retaining long-term profitable clients. After all, you’ve already done the hard work of making them your client in the first place.

The key point underpinning all these considerations is that customer mindsets have changed significantly in recent years. Customers are savvy, have a good overview of the market, and aren’t afraid to pick up the phone to contact a competitor. To grow your top line and increase profitability, the mindsets, processes, and approaches of your sales team need to change too.

If you would like to learn more about how Valtus UK can support your business through its transformation projects and enhance the performance of your sales function, please reach out to us today at: enquiries@valtus.uk.

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