Last week, I was lucky enough to come across a Harvard Business Review article by Ken Favaro, David Meer and Samrat Sharma in which the authors outline a number of thought-provoking strategies for driving organic business growth. Though the piece is geared toward enterprise-level organizations, I believe many of its points could easily apply to mid-sized businesses, as well. In fact, I recognized several of the authors’ suggested practices as ones already in play here at Torrent. More interestingly — at least for somebody like me, anyway — those practices are powered in part by Salesforce.
In light of that (admittedly nerdy) revelation, I thought I’d share a few of Favaro, Meer and Sharma’s recommended strategies for achieving organic growth and include some of my own thoughts on how you can use Salesforce to implement them.
Strategy #1: “Get the data right.”
As the authors of the article note, “An engaged CEO and corporate center should have an enterprise-wide database of organic growth opportunities, both those specific to individual operating units and those that cross internal boundaries.” This, they suggest, will help leadership direct resources to areas of the company that will use them most productively.
Salesforce is well suited to serve as such a database. With detailed marketing, sales and service data living in a single place, analytics-savvy executives will have everything they need. Using dashboards and reports, they can pinpoint areas of unexpected success and mark them as new priorities. And since the data they’re analyzing is company-wide, rather than siloed, they can make sure separate teams aren’t pursuing overlapping (and therefore wasteful) initiatives — a danger specifically highlighted by Favaro, Meer and Sharma.
Taking advantage of the opportunities that present themselves, after all, is a key element of achieving significant organic growth. Sometimes the market tosses you an easy one; make sure you’re ready to turn it into a home run.
Strategy #2: “Look across businesses and markets.”
“Alert leaders who engage with operating units to pursue organic growth,” the authors write, “can often recognize when small opportunities that make no sense by themselves can be bundled to create a big opportunity.” To illustrate this concept, they use the example of Guinness, the famous Irish brewery. When the company’s American division recognized selling bottled beer as a likely growth opportunity, Guinness nearly declined to pursue the idea due to high costs. Ultimately, however, the company discovered a bottled version of their stout was likely to succeed in Ireland, as well. Together, the two markets proved lucrative enough to justify the cost required to move the initiative forward.
Smaller businesses would also do well to recognize larger potential demand for products and/or services that might appear at first as niche. With Salesforce — specifically Social Studio and Social Studio Automate — your platform can automatically “listen” for certain kinds of social media posts that mention your company, sort them, and notify designated members of your team. That means if a large number of followers are requesting something new, your company will know about it — and you’ll be able to act accordingly.
Strategy #3: “Fight the business cycle.”
“In the boom part of the business cycle,” the authors write, “[many companies] invest aggressively in growth; in the bust part, they turn cost-conscious and zero in on profitability. But by amplifying the cycle in this way, leaders can do great harm to their operating units’ organic growth efforts.” Hard as it might be, leaders looking to break their company out of such a cycle need to respond actively, rather than reactively.
Let’s say your organization experiences a yearly sales dip in Q2 — just like baseball, it happens every spring. The numbers have always bounced back, but you still worry. What if this is the year they don’t recover? As such, you make overly conservative decisions, just as Favaro, Meer and Sharma warn against. It’s understandable, but not good for growth.
Instead of hunkering down and waiting for the bad times to end, you might consider using Salesforce to implement a new business strategy that counteracts your sales dip — inbound marketing, say. Using tools like Pardot and Marketing Cloud, you can generate leads in an entirely new way. So long as you’re able to develop a successful plan of action, you’ll be able to fight the business cycle and actively push for new organic growth.
Now what about your experience? How have you used Salesforce to drive your company’s organic growth? Let us know in the comments — we’d love to hear from you.