Drivers of Top-line Revenue Growth
"Top-line revenue growth is the key driver of long-term company performance" Corporate Executive Board.
If you agree with the statement above (and for most of you we'll assume that's a safe bet) then you're constantly (or should be) focused on which revenue drivers, initiatives, and/or actions can be optimized in order to fuel and sustain growth for future quarters and years.
The assertion is that the most important and ultimate strategy (as measured by long-term top-line performance) for a company will be their organizational capacity to deliver expected and sustainable top-line results and/or close any existing or future revenue gaps that may exist both short and long term. As such this becomes the essence of an organization's strategy.
Which factors will drive short and long-term revenue growth? It’s critical that you not only complete a comprehensive and honest assessment of what is going to fuel growth but also (an this is the essence of your ultimate strategy - eliminating revenue gaps) the gaps between stated goals and actual results, but also a consensus about how you’ll fill those gaps moving forward. The goal is to understand, agree, align, prioritize, and translate the strategy into the critical focused activities that will deliver future revenue goals.
A starting point. is to help teams get more clarity around the key questions early in the planning process. Based on more experience with this ritual than I care to admit, the outline below should be approached with an objective of lively discussion, debate, and eventual consensus. These meetings should be in an open dialog, (no slide decks) with someone facilitating and recording the discussion, outcomes, and a written review of what was discussed. Position this in a way that minimizes departmental politics and finger-pointing, yet considers real alternatives or refinements to what currently exists with realistic assessments of future revenue impact.
The goal is to get as much of the pertinent information on the table, so everyone has the same picture as to where you are, where you want to be, and what factors and actions are needed for future success. Essentially getting everyone to be on the same page, knowing how they got there and the opportunities and limitations of how to get to their desired future objectives.
One would think this is a natural and common discussion that takes place every year. But I can assure you these discussions do not happen as often as they should, and they can be extremely helpful and serve as a valuable reference point as you get deeper into your planning.
Here's a little test. At your next staff meeting ask a few of the questions (relevant to your company's situation) below and have them submit brief answers to those questions anonymously. I bet you'll be surprised. Read them out loud and see what happens to the discussion about the next 12 months' strategy and supporting initiatives. You may be quite surprised at the answers you get. See how aligned your team is.
10 questions to ask your team for improving the next 12 months of revenue results:
What factors have been successful in driving your revenue growth this year? What has not?
What are the vital few factors (80/20 rule) that are really moving the dial and how can we better focus our resources to align with these?
What assumptions have we made in our planning, and have we done an adequate job of objectively testing those assumptions to confirm they will be successful when they meet the realities of the market?
What should we be doing more of and what should we do less of?
What will be different, what will have changed with regard to what will drive revenue results from the current year?
What do we collectively believe the associated amount of focus, and time to revenue impact for each of these changes?
What are the criteria and how are we bench-marking of our team's future capacity and their understanding of the game plan, skills/capabilities, and ability to execute/perform better than the competition?
How should we better align sales and marketing to ensure your pipeline will deliver?
Are sales and marketing on the same page, and are they equally motivated and have the right incentives, with regard to expected lead flow, lead qualification, definitions, pipeline staging, time-frames, and conversion rates?
Which leading and lagging indicators are most important to be measured, when and how often will we report on these?
I hope you’ll find these suggestions helpful as you plan your revenue strategies moving forward.