Every company wants to consistently increase sales, but what if you're working with limited resources? You can still break through a sales plateau. That's according to Marty Puranik, founder and CEO of cloud server hosting company Atlantic.net, a 21-year-old bootstrapped company that has never taken venture capital and is growing 10 percent month over month.
1. Reframe what your business is actually about.
It can be easy to have tunnel vision when it comes to how you make money, but it's important to look at the big picture of what your company provides to customers. For example, a candy store has a larger market opportunity if it reframes its business from one that simply sells suckers and chocolate to one that provides customers with happiness. Could the business partner with other companies that sell cakes or balloons and provide packages for events such as birthdays or anniversaries? "If you broaden your scope about what your business is doing or how you're helping people you might be able to find new ways of finding revenue," he says.
2. Give your employees a new perspective.
One way to do it: Send to a trade show people who wouldn't normally attend-technical or accounting folks, for example. The idea is to give them better ideas about how to present your product in a way that better solves customer problems. "They may not have that insight back at the home office and not out on the front line," he says.
3. Involve the entire company in brainstorming ideas for growing revenue.
Capitalize on the fact that your employees all see your business from different angles. In a companywide meetup ask them to generate dozens of off-the-wall ideas for not only finding new customers but ways to grow revenue from existing customers. It will be time well spent if one or two actionable ideas result.
4. Ask employees how they would improve the company if it was their business.
You want them to think critically about the problems they're seeing with your offering or the friction customers are experiencing.
5. Interview your best and most difficult customers.
Take them to lunch and find out why they do or don't love you. "If you can reduce the friction of the customer base you already have it frees up your people to either go get more customers that are a good fit for you, or lose the weight of trying to make people happy who aren't a good fit for your organization," he says.
6. Celebrate victories, even small ones.
People are motivated by progress. Use email, posters, newsletters, meetings or any other communication medium to give employees positive feedback that things are moving in the right direction. "That's really what motivates people to come to work each day," he says. "Keep communicating and keep the dream alive."