Every company that we have worked with wants to grow. They set growth targets and communicate it to their shareholders. Achieving these targets can mean make or break for the organization. At times, we see companies become overwhelmed with options in their pursuit of growth and while under immense pressure from shareholders, seem to be standing still versus moving forward. If you are in a company in a mature industry, chances are there aren’t many green fields left to grow. Faced with this situation, what can a company do? How can a company exceed market expectations and drive shareholder value?
Recently we worked with a company facing these issues. Their markets are mature, the use of their products and services was not growing and in fact for a few products they faced significant price competition from smaller players in the market. The company, in response to growth expectations, implemented pricing and product strategies to protect market share, while their sales team received immense pushback from customers who felt that the company was nickel and diming them.
At the heart of the problem was that most of the actions the company took were based on an inside-out view. This does not mean that the decisions were taken without proper analysis and feedback from internal teams, but what lacked was actual understanding of how customers used their product. What are the challenges that their customers face and how do they overcome them by using the company’s products and services? And most importantly, what problems do they expect the company’s products and services to solve?
So, we talked to their customers. We had our initial hypothesis of what matters to the customers but as we have seen in almost all cases, the customers wanted more. They wanted much more than the company had anticipated, they were looking for solutions that the company didn’t even have in their product roadmap. And as we brought the outside-in view, the opportunities poured in. Opportunities that could mean significant mutual growth for the customers and the company.
Through this exercise, we were able to answer the key question worrying the senior leadership team: Where is the next area for growth? Not only did we identify a long-term growth plan but also significant quick win opportunities to impacts the current financial year.
All of this was made possible by simply talking with customers, asking the right questions and having the skill and knowledge to unearth these opportunities. One of the myths that we usually hear is that our customers won’t talk to us. Well, we have done these project numerous times and in our experience customers love being heard.
So, to my readers, get out there, ask customers how you can help to solve their problems. Then shut up and listen!