Doug Wendt is a co-founder and senior partner with Wendt Partners.
Understanding these dynamics and priorities is important to understanding your business, because you need to plan for the future of the company in a manner that aligns with your future as its owner, while also taking into account the realities of time, money and markets.
Challenges to Achieving B2B Business GrowthDeveloping and executing a strategy for your business that recognizes these factors is what a B2B business growth consultant does. Most CEOs find themselves hampered in aggressively growing their business due to the following five factors:
- Culture - Employees are committed and hard-working, but also comfortable with the current culture and hesitant to embrace major change.
- Consistency - You know that you need to diversify your client base and become less dependent upon a handful of accounts, but you also can't afford to 'upset the apple cart' in the process.
- Complexity - It feels overwhelming to take into account every factor you should in developing a new strategy for the firm.
- Energy - In the early days of the business, you were the aggressive disruptor in the market, but now that you're established, you're also a bit tired and asking whether you really have the energy to pull off another round of change.
- Stability - The economy has started to recover and your business is stable, but price pressures are intense and just staying on track can require a great deal of effort.
This combination of factors – pressure to change, pressure to stay the course, and pressure to exert new energy in the face of many obstacles – can paralyze even the most seasoned and confident business owners. This is especially true in the business-to-business world, where keeping just a few customers happy can often mean the difference between a year of profits and one of losses.
The Focus of the Business Growth Consultant
A business growth consultant is an expert advisor who recognizes these challenges, and focuses specifically on helping you move forward in a prudent, realistic but visionary manner.
Professional business growth consultants focus on top-line aspects of the enterprise such as sales, marketing, strategy and leadership -- while also being sensitive to market realities and the unique nature of your business today. A typical engagement with a business growth consultant will enable you to focus on one of these key growth areas, allowing you to achieve some 'quick wins' or new insights, while also enabling you to get to know the consultant, and for the consultant to get to know you.
Business growth consulting requires a unique combination of three services that a typical client company will benefit from, including:
- Consulting - Consulting focuses on the process of assessing your business with an outside perspective and providing strategic insights and recommendations that you can use to improve the company.
- Coaching - Coaching focuses on working on a more intimate, personal level with the CEO and other key executive team members, so that you learn how to improve as leaders and communicators, both internally and externally.
- Contracting - Contracting provides outsourced services that enable your business to scale rapidly without having to hire a wide range of full-time staff members to move your growth forward. Typically, a B2B business growth consultant may offer services such as outsourced CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) capabilities, training/development and content marketing, among other activities.
In addition, business growth consultants set themselves apart from traditional management consultants by integrating a range of disciplines – including functional specifications such as sales or marketing and strategic specializations such as organizational development and market strategy – and by focusing specifically on top-line growth. In contrast, traditional management consultants generally focus on a specific functional area (such as sales training) or specialization (such as organizational development), but not on the overall strategic direction of the client company.
Benefits of Hiring a Business Growth Consultant
Owners and CEOs of B2B companies who elect to retain a business growth consultant typically find that the decision allows them to:
- Overcome internal cultural and interpersonal obstacles that have short-circuited previous change efforts.
- Gain the perspective of a seasoned, third-party advisor who provides assurance and advice that increases the confidence of the CEO's decisions.
- Reposition the company in ways that enable it to become a more focused, targeted and successful leader in its market niche.
In addition, CEOs often say that on a personal level, they feel that by partnering with a business growth consultant they gain the insights of a strategy "co-creator" or board-level advisor – essentially an ex officio member of the executive team – who offers new perspectives without the oversight issues associated with a board member or the career-development challenges of a direct-report.
The result is a dynamic strategic partnership that brings third-party expertise to the table and adds an additional leader to the team in a cost-effective manner and with a singular focus on developing and executing new strategies that internal executives would struggle to maintain over time.
Business-to-business companies today face a myriad of challenges in the marketplace, and hiring a B2B business growth consultant can provide an ideal catalyst to drive the change you need in order to maintain competitiveness and achieve your growth goals.
Image Credit: USDOE @ Flickr (Creative Commons)