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Leading Topline Growth: Can you win doing business the same way as in the past?
May 21, 2010
Written By: Pete Petersen

We have the opportunity to spend time with a wide variety of business leaders and have many discussions about how their businesses are performing. Here is what we are hearing fairly consistently, “It’s getting better but we still have a long way to go.”  

What we don’t hear very often is how business leaders plan to grow their topline. If there are plans to grow revenue they seemed mired in tactics from 2007.  But this is not 2007 and to think revenue growth will be generated in all the same ways as in the past is highly unlikely.
The question then becomes how do businesses plan to regain their topline? Will it be luck? Or that the economy will improve and a rising tide will raise all ships? Or will they simply save their way to prosperity?
Businesses that are growing have decided they can’t grow doing things just like they did in the past. Leaders are having challenging discussions with their teams about what must be done differently to build the business. The likelihood that these discussions will be uncomfortable is high and that is a positive for change.  
Here are some of the challenging topics and questions leaders are tackling:
  • Are we performing better or worse than our competitors ... why?
  • What does it take to win in this industry today … and how are we doing?
  • What are our real obstacles to growth?
  • How are we leveraging our competitive advantages?
  • What do we do best and how can we apply it most effectively in new ways?
  • Do we understand our customer’s issues, their direction and what is important to them?
Growth driven companies are also vigorously analyzing their sales team’s capabilities and sales processes that drive growth. Businesses that for years have had sales just come to them because of their great products are suddenly finding themselves in hyper competitive markets that demand a finely honed sales approach. Too often they are discovering that their sales teams are just marketing teams or order takers that have never had to compete in a tough market. They are asking questions like: What is the makeup of our sales team and what are their capabilities? Do we have the right people to win? Do our people strategies match our growth strategies? Do we have enough resources applied to marketing and sales to meet our goals? Do we really know what is in the sales pipeline … is it better or worse than what we are anticipating?
Without strong leadership and challenging discussions many companies will wander around in 2010 focused more on survival than growth, simply hoping the past will return. By challenging themselves and their teams to focus on growing the topline in new ways, leaders can ensure their companies are better prepared for the future.


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