Moving your business into a high-growth phase is all about laying the right foundations. Here’s the top growth lessons from Michael Greyling and Marlene de Lange of Grow Consulting.
Moving into a high-growth phase takes string foundations, and a focus on long-term success.
When former Deloitte consultants Michael Greyling and Marlene de Lange launched their people development consulting firm, Grow Consulting, they had an end goal in mind: To compete with large industry players on an equal footing.
“We always knew this would be a five-day game,” says Greyling. “If you aren’t looking long-term, it’s unlikely you’ll build a trusted brand geared for real growth.”
Related: Why Dial a Nerd radically changed its business model for growth
Here are Greyling’s top five growth lessons.
1. Understand what you’re selling, and where you add value
This is crucial to building trust. Yes, you have a product or service, but what is your client actually buying? Take a new CEO who’s brought into a big company to turn it around. He’s open to our training solutions, because he understands that he needs to upskill his employees in various ways. But he’s not actually buying training. He’s buying a solution that will help him turn the business around.
Simply taking him through the training doesn’t build trust. Helping him understand what his company will look like once the training is complete is where the value lies. It’s a subtle but extremely important shift.
2. Grow with your clients
If you’re in it for the long-haul, pay attention to potential future clients as well as current clients. We pay a lot of attention to the mid-level managers who we work with, and make sure we’re helping them grow their careers.
Today’s mid-level managers are tomorrows senior managers, CEO and decision makers. If we’ve helped them achieve success, they’re not only aware of what we’re capable of, but they’ll always be loyal to us.
Related: The path less travelled on the journey to success
3. Focus on stakeholder management
As an SME servicing corporate clients, you need to understand the complexities of a sale that involves multiple stakeholders. First, there’s never just one decision maker, and each decision maker has a different objective they’re trying to achieve. Second, not all stakeholders are buyers.
The ultimate decision makers might be the FD and CEO, but they need budgetary approval from procurement or HR, unless you have all the departments on board, your deal will be stalled. Remember, there are stakeholders who can’t say yes – but they can say no. Make sure you know who they all are, and what they need to make the deal go ahead.
4. Build relationships with businesses
On the one hand, relationships are personal, and we’ve had a lot of success with mid-managers who have risen through the ranks and taken us with them, or moved to other companies and introduced us to new clients.
On the other hand, we’ve learnt the hard way to build relationships with a company as a whole, and not just an individual.
During our start-up phase we had an incredible client who accounted for 70% of our business. The problem was that the entire account was dependant on our relationship with the HR director.
We didn’t know anyone else. A new CEO came on board, the HR director fell out of favour, and our contract was never renewed. We’ve been careful to never end up in that situation again. Without playing politics (which you should never, ever do), build relationships across departments and divisions. You want loyalty from the organisation, not one person.
5. To be the best, hire the best
We needed to find a way to attract top talent without competing with the salary packages that top consulting firms offer.
Related: 5 Strategic steps to help you double your revenue next year
We’ve found that we attract a certain type of professional who wants the freedom to pursue their personal and business values within the organisation. We offer a flexible environment based on output rather than hours. It’s an organisation based on trust and shared values, and it’s worked very well for us.