3 Steps For Translating Market Insights Into Growth Strategy

Published: July 26, 2022

1axiom parHow are you setting up your sales organization to thrive over the next five years? If you lead sales at an established company, you’ve probably explored the most accessible routes to new business. But the question we hear the most from sales leaders tasked with growth is, “Where will we grow from here?”

We recently worked with a mature software-as-a-service (SaaS) company to develop a long-term strategy for achieving 20% annual revenue growth. The sales team was primarily focused on nurturing existing relationships with limited energy invested in developing new markets or finding new clients.

Further, the client management software lacked data to identify company, parent and subsidiary relationships, making it challenging to understand which organizations were genuine prospects. And the company’s leadership didn’t have a clear line of sight into their overall market potential.

To create a more sustainable outlook for the business, we sought to map and characterize the total addressable market, then develop a roadmap with sales targets and strategies to define the right sequence of actions. The SaaS company followed these steps, and the result was a straightforward guide that aligned executives and sales and marketing leaders around the organizational goals and how to achieve them.

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Here are some key considerations if your organization is working on refining its growth strategy.

1. Start With The Total Addressable Market

Our marching orders were simple when we started this project: “Characterize the market.” However, the data you uncover is much more helpful and actionable if you start with a hypothesis. So, what questions are you asking of the data, and what do you predict you’ll discover?

The executive team had hypothesized that there was significant white space market potential, but the company struggled to access it for two reasons: Lack of visibility into addressable prospects and onerous rules of engagement policies that prevented the team from proactively pursuing large chunks of the market.

The analysis confirmed and strengthened these hypotheses by using firmographic data to identify untapped market segments and measure the revenue opportunity associated with modifying the rules of engagement to improve access to more accounts.

In this case, a data-driven approach would serve well to identify pockets of opportunity and get a clear view of the market. Looking at 150,000 company records during our bottom-up total addressable market analysis afforded the ability to size up the opportunity. By customizing the analysis based on the company’s product portfolio and the firmographic and technographic characteristics that determined high-value target accounts, it was possible to tell:

  • Best-fit industries;
  • What market segments could drive the most growth; and
  • The segments that should be de-emphasized.

With that clear view, it was possible to move forward with developing a roadmap for the sales team to go after specific opportunities and generate the growth senior leaders were looking for.

2. Prioritize & Sequence The Sales Strategy

Most companies have myriad related and competing initiatives that can muddy sales roadmaps. Documenting and cataloguing cross-functional initiatives that impact the organization’s ability to achieve sales goals can help to ensure that plans are realistic, actionable and address significant dependencies.  

For this company, a strategy to migrate customers from legacy on-premises products to cloud products was highly dependent on the product team’s development roadmap. That’s where laying out two planning documents (product and sales) side-by-side helped ensure sequencing and timing to reflect cross-functional dependencies.   

Similarly, the sequence of sales strategy implementation must reflect the realities of your sales organization. Consider your sales team — do you have the headcount, role descriptions and competencies required to execute all initiatives? If not, how long will it take for you to close those gaps via training or hiring?

Specific sales initiatives may be planned for out-years to enable the sales organization to catch up. For example, a concentrated new logo acquisition effort required the development of “hunter” skillsets and tools that were anticipated to take 12-18 months. The new logo push remained important, but the sales leaders determined it should be deprioritized in the short term in favor of sales initiatives that could be executed with the current team and tools.

3. Get Buy-In From All Levels Of The Organization

Aggressive growth targets and investor pressure cause tension in an organization. In our case, the head of sales wanted everyone to rally around a shared vision and goal — direct reports, other functional executives and ultimately the sellers.

To create the conditions for change, leaders participated in interviews and workshops. As a result, the leaders evaluated investment areas and where the company should reinforce its already substantial capabilities, including channel and partner management, strategic pricing and the deployment model.

Separately, sellers shared their perspectives, experience selling in specific markets, past frustrations, current territories and qualitative feedback on customer buyers for comparison to marketing’s ideal client profile.

The feedback from these change sessions informed the hypothesis to test and improve the final sales strategy document.

When it was time to formally roll out the strategy document, workshops and listening sessions brought in people from all levels and functions of the organization. We avoided the impulse to hold meetings stratified by seniority level — bringing people together from all levels creates richer conversations and understanding. Getting input and buy-in from the executives signing off on decisions and the people who are doing the everyday sales work — and everyone in between — is essential.

4. Unlock Growth

Plans are never perfect. It’s important to exhibit flexibility and adjust some tactics as they relate to the overall strategy to bring everyone on board and get their commitment. In this case, the sales team aligned around a clear business case and understood the specific roles they could each play in achieving the long-term goals.

As of this writing, this SaaS company has seen over 15% growth in its annual revenue for the preceding four quarters, despite current macro-economic headwinds. We’re confident that they will achieve and even surpass their goal by putting a data-driven, strategic plan in place that gets people involved from all levels of the organization.

Tom Hill is a Partner and Charlie Pope is a Principal in the Revenue Growth and Consumer & Retail sector practices of Axiom Consulting Partners, an advisory firm that combines data with behavioral science to help companies grow.

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