Imagine Growth

Are you flying a B-52 bomber? Or are you flying by the seat of your pants?

Posted by: Mike Nathan | Posted on: May 24th, 2013 | 0 Comments

As a part of Next Stage Growth Partners investment criteria, we look for companies that grow quickly and exponentially.  Often times when I am evaluating a business for acquisition or potential investment I look to the sales organization for some hints.  I will look for sales reports, review customer lists, marketing materials, etc.  The two pieces I am most looking for are 1. Customer profile and 2. Target Accounts.  My thinking is if this company does not have these two pieces, I wonder how successful they could be if they knew who their customers really are and who their BEST customers could be.

If you are flying a B-52 bomber, before you take off you have your target list.  This target list pre-identifies the best locations to destroy for the maxim impact to enemy forces, highest priority, high probability of success/survival, and so on.  The reason you have multiple targets is to ensure your bomb run effort is not wasted as resources are scarce.  If a bomber got to the #1 target ahead of you, you move onto #2 and so on.  If you were assigned the #14 target, and noticed the bomber assigned to #1 target was shot down and your bomber happened to be flying over the #1 target.  The adjustment can be made to re-assign your target from #14 to #1 based on pre-flight preparation.  Additionally, a target list will let HQ know what is being bombed and intelligence can measure the impact to the overall war effort.

If you are flying by the seat of your pants with no target list…good luck.  The first big building you see you will bomb.  That could be a huge missed opportunity if that big building is a teddy bear manufacturing plant.  The armored tank manufacturing plant was just down the road a few more miles.  You will have some success without a target list, but it will be hit or miss (pun intended).

If you are in or leading a sales and marketing department, your work needs the same approach.  Which accounts will have the biggest impact to the bottom/top lines of your organization?  Have you identified them?  Have a plan of attack for each?  The work of researching your ideal customer and creating a profile according seems unproductive by itself.  However, that information is critical to executing an efficient sales and marketing plan.  You should identify your Top Targets, the largest/most profitable/easiest to service/best (however you define best) 100 accounts where if even 5-10 of those accounts were won, the impact would be huge on the organization in terms of growth.

Once identified, prepare, research, and train your sales team on how to execute the plan of winning those accounts. Get specific, detailed, and obsessive with what it will take to win these accounts.  Make winning these accounts a high priority and reward those who do so.   Without targets your sales organization will be wasting too much time/money/effort on the wrong accounts.  No business can afford to do that.

The take away: Get focused. Identify your targets accounts that will have the most positive impact to your business.  Prepare, research, and train on how to win those accounts.  Reward those who do.

Mike Nathan, MBA

Managing Partner

Next Stage Growth Partners

(651) 214-7473

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