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Posted on NOV 2, 2016

Grow your business strategically - part 2

Part Two of a Two-Part Series

In part one of this series we discussed the importance of a strategic plan, including the need to properly identify your target market and the significance of understanding your balance sheet. A strategic plan for growth identifies:

  • Your target market.
  • Which products and/or services will drive revenue.
  • Who will fill which roles as your business grows.
  • What benchmarks you need to reach along the way—and when.
  • How you will execute the plan.

Part two of the series examines how recruiting and retaining top talent, researching the competition, and recognizing areas for revenue growth are key to helping you grow strategically.

Recruit and Retain Top Talent

Having the right talent in place is crucial to implementing your strategic growth plan. “If you're constantly talking to and connecting with potential future associates, you stand a better chance of finding the right person when a position becomes available,” says Peter X. Engel, Executive Vice President, Business Development, Johnson Bank. “It's all about skill sets and understanding how circumstances change when determining what you need new associates to bring to your business at that point in time.”

To recruit effectively, Engel recommends focusing on historical behaviors and successes and failures of prospective associates. “History is a predictor of the future,” he notes. On the other hand, it's also important that potential applicants get a clear picture of the company, its direction and culture so they can judge whether it's a good fit for them and envision how they can use their expertise to help the company grow.

Retaining good talent is also important, of course. “Top people expect to be paid well, but it's also critical that their contributions to your success are recognized and that they feel they are an integral part of the organization,” Engel explains.

“You can help your associates develop into outstanding employees by working closely with them,” he continues. “Provide instant feedback on performance rather than waiting for a formal review many months later when the comments can't be tied directly to the behavior. Also, be sure to recognize successes publicly, but coach and mentor performance in private. And be sure to incentivize the behaviors you want. Knowing your employees and understanding what motivates them will help you do that.”

Create Advocates

Since all employees are involved in and must commit to executing the strategic plan for growth, the plan must be clearly communicated to all. Just as on a sports team, everyone has a role to play. Everyone needs to know not only what their role is, but also what the roles of other associates are and how they can work together to meet the objective.

Getting this commitment from the entire organization, and creating internal advocates, requires communication on a number of different levels. Discuss key elements of the strategic growth plan in department meetings and companywide town halls, as well as one‐on‐one meetings between employees and their supervisors. The one‐on‐one meetings add a personal touch and are the best forum to develop commitment to the plan.

“It's the people who make a strategic plan work,” Engel notes. “In addition to involving your employees, be sure to leverage your partnerships to grow your business. You may have internal partners from other business lines within your company who can provide industry knowledge or cross sell products and services. You may have external partners, as well – other businesses that also work with your customers. For example, you may be able to capitalize on relationships with accountants or attorneys who count both you and your customers among their clients.”

Integrate Sales and Marketing

“Sales and marketing should not be considered separate disciplines,” recommends Engel. “Marketing is ‘sales support’ and sales is ‘marketing execution.’ Each needs to utilize the expertise of the other to achieve maximum results. Working together can increase new business, client retention and expanded relationships with clients. Sales and marketing should collaborate to align, properly sequence and jointly execute ‘go to market’ strategies and tactics.”

Sales and marketing departments can engage each other by working on sponsorships that increase brand awareness or developing and implementing new ideas to provide “value‐added” events for the target market. “Remember that apart from quantifiable ROI numbers, creating a positive perception of the brand is also valuable,” Engel says. “Get involved in the community and find ways to position yourself as an advisor and confidant.”

Focus on Customers

“Finally, maintain an unwavering focus on your customers to successfully execute your strategic plan for growth,” Engel says. “Know who they are and what they need so you can partner with them to solve problems and bring the best solutions to the table.”

Your Strategic Partner

Establishing a framework to grow strategically can be challenging, but having a financial partner who's invested in more than your bottom line can help you see the whole picture. Contact your Johnson Bank advisor to get started.

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