It’s Time To Grow

For those tuned into the startup scene, you might be familiar with the term ‘Growth Machine’. This term comes from a new offshoot of startup growth junkies known as Growth Hackers.

The idea is that once you’ve identified a successful process to attract and convert prospects, it’s time to flick the switch and SCALE SCALE SCALE! Just like a machine, your growth becomes calculated and predictable. And all things being equal, as your selling machine scales up, your revenue follows step.

But the concept of building a selling machine isn’t limited to startups. The underlying growth machine principle is the same for companies of every size and maturity. The only difference is that instead of hiring Growth Hackers, this responsibility falls on the shoulders of sales and marketing.

In most cases, mature companies have the benefit of a pre-established sales formula that is proven to work. However, it’s important that these companies continue to think outside of the box if they wish to enter into new markets and continue to grow. Similarly, it’s critical that these companies craft a succession plan for their aging growth machines that are running out of steam.

A perfect example of an aging growth machine is promotional flyers in retail. From my own personal experience in working at a top health and wellness retailer, I can attest to the fact that promotional flyers are still the lifeblood of retail sales. But as you might expect, traditional flyers are slowly being phased out as they are steadily becoming less relevant to today’s always-connected consumer living in the digital realm.

So drawing from the example of promotional flyers, the pressing question for sales, marketing, merchandising, and category management becomes: What is our next growth driver and how do we ensure it is as successful and predictable as printed flyers?

Turn Up The Sales

So if you’re trying to find a way to build a scalable and predictable ‘selling machine’, where do you start? Most of the time, the best starting point is your sales data. To know what works and what doesn’t, you need numbers to reinforce what you likely already know. The three-step process for identifying and building a scalable sales machine typically looks like this:

1) Analyze Your Sales Data – Take a deep dive into the numbers and uncover which sales and marketing initiatives actually produced significant ROI. For example, which of your promotions worked best and were they consistent from one time period to the next? What is the range of results you can expect? And lastly, do these results allow you to hit your sales goals? Now you’re ready for step 2.

2) SWOT It Out – Once you’ve identified your sales growth champion, you need to perform a SWOT analysis to ensure the process isn’t flimsy. The end goal here is to identify whether or not the process is truly scalable and repeatable. Whether it’s a TV ad, trade promotion, loyalty offer, price discount, or BOGO offer, can you replicate your results – regardless of seasonality and competitive factors? And most importantly, can you scale up this tactic to predictably grow sales? Keep in mind that virtually no growth tactic is perfect, so your goal is to make sure you can rely on this growth machine when it comes time to deliver on your sales plan.

3) Scale, Analyze, Repeat – Now that you’re confident that your selling machine is up to the challenge, it’s time to scale and analyze. The key here is that you continue capturing and analyzing the data that confirms the results you had identified in step 1. For instance, if TV ads in one particular region resulted in an X% spike in sales, what happens when you double the number of ads, or show those ads in a different part of the country. How far can you scale your TV ads before you run into diminishing returns? It’s not easy to scale without some setbacks – so keep in mind that the goal is to find a happy medium where you can scale enough to hit or exceed your targets.

It Can’t Be Great If You’re Only Good

As you can see, there is a lot of planning and analysis involved in building an effective sales machine. But to get off the ground in the first place, you need a business savvy sales team that has laid the foundation for success. It’s very difficult to build a predictable sales machine without proven sales and marketing initiatives that have worked in the past.

When you have a field sales team and a management group who truly understand their consumer and what makes them tick, you will be fortunate to draw from a number of successful sales drivers that have already been tried, tested and proven.

Once sales and marketing have tested a wide range of sales initiatives, it’s then up to you to uncover proven sales tactics with data, perform some stress testing and research, and then scale to perfection.