Scaling Infrastructure for Growth
By Christina Kettler
I scream, you scream, we all scream for more customer leads. Just say the word leads and marketing professionals will react like prairie dogs. Heads will pop up immediately. “Leads? Did someone say leads?”
That’s because leads are addictive. We crave them. We develop elaborate strategies to get more of them. After all, they lead to more business opportunities. But what happens when a client says they don’t want more leads because their team cannot handle more business?
Cue the record scratch.
That scenario played out recently on a phone call with a client. When that comment dropped, questions rushed my marketing brain.
Who doesn’t want more leads? Who doesn’t want more prospects? More growth? More revenue? Well, people who are already at their limit and drowning, that’s who.
My client shared an honest revelation that was not easy. It’s a moment of vulnerability many of us are reluctant to disclose in life, let alone in our professional lives. But I appreciated the candor because it helped me understand why we weren’t moving forward on marketing plans.
At that moment I realized I needed to remove my marketing hat so that I could see the big picture through the eyes of my client. I had to stop inundating them with talk of lead scoring and lead nurturing. Sure there are lots of whiz-bang fantastic technology solutions available to help automate and streamline business and marketing functions, but if the leadership team is too mired down in day-to-day issues, how are they able to see the benefit of those resources, let alone how they can help them grow their business?
While I realize there are often systemic issues in an organization grappling with scaling its infrastructure, it still never hurts to share info that might help. Here are three lifelines to those who want to get above water so that they can focus on growing their business.
Lifeline No. 1: It All Starts with a Plan
If someone feels overwhelmed, it could mean they don’t have a plan. Or perhaps they created a plan but have not revisited it. Always make a plan and stick to it. Here’s how to begin crafting one:
First, management must define their strategy for business growth by asking these questions:
Vision: What do you want?
Values: What’s important about it?
Methods: How do you get it?
Obstacles: What might stand in the way?
Metrics: How will you know when you have it?
These are helpful tips from a Salesforce.com e-book that focuses on best practices to grow a business. Essentially this e-book highlights steps from their CEO Marc Benioff’s book, Behind the Cloud. Next, Benioff suggests management will need to put their plans into motion by employing these best practices:
- Free up time for growth: This includes making processes more efficient, keeping data in one place, keeping everyone in the know, making everyone accountable, increasing collaboration and allowing for customization.
- Scale your business for growth by automating processes, investing in relationships, having visibility into operations and becoming IT savvy.
- Get support from the right team by hiring people who believe in you, invest in creating a strong culture, solicit radical ideas from employees and make your employees happy.
- Connect with your customers and shift the focus of your business to put your customer’s needs first. Be a good listener, engage regularly with your customers and cultivate your brand advocates.
Lifeline No. 2: Develop Leadership
While a plan is underway, it doesn’t hurt for the management team to reflect on their leadership style. In the book, Flight of the Buffalo: Soaring to Excellence, Learning to Let Employees Lead, author Ralph C. Stayer contrasts the leadership style of a herd of buffaloes to that of a gaggle of geese. When the head buffalo is removed, the herd will just stand there, unsure of where to go next. However, a gaggle of geese rotates its leaders, flying more efficiently because they all know where they are going.
Essentially, an effective leader recognizes they need to communicate where the company is going and how they will get there so everyone involved knows the vision and how to carry it out.
Lifeline No. 3: Ask for Help
Asking for help might be one of the most difficult things for a person in a leadership role. But keep in mind, it’s not a sign of failure; it’s a sign you believe in yourself and your company. Be a fighter. Reach out to your network and beyond. Ask people in similar industries to grab lunch so you can ask for advice. Most people will be flattered, not suspicious or critical. Check out this blog from Entrepreneur offering six ways to ask for help without being embarrassed.
It’s a process to get a once-flourishing company back on track. It’s not meant to be easy; that’s why it’s called work. But when a company is running on all cylinders, it will be positioned for growth. And that means it will need leads. Did someone say, “leads?” No doubt heads just popped up around Aartrijk’s team.