point one percent growth...time to batten down the B2B sales hatches!

Ed Marsh | May 1, 2014

.1% - Is that growth that gets you excited?

APThe U.S. economy slowed drastically in the first three months of the year
If you're like most owners and execs of B2B manufacturing businesses you probably track, at least casually, how the government data prints.  And you noted Wednesday's concerning headlines.  After all, your business is subject to the vicissitudes of industrial B2B markets.  That's accepted fact.

Or is it?

Growing when the economy (or your industry) isn't

Strategy& recently published an interesting article which presented an alternate perspective.
If we had a nickel for every executive who appeared on CNBC and blamed his or her company’s inability to grow on a weakness in the market, we’d be richer than Croesus. Of course, there’s a reason this explanation for uninspiring performance is so common: It’s readily available. At any given time, roughly half of all industries are growing below the level of GDP. And it’s only natural to blame something external for one’s problems.

The trouble is, a weak market isn’t a valid excuse.
They found specifically that "Between 2003 and 2013, for instance, 30 percent of companies with top-quartile shareholder returns (our proxy for success) were in industries growing at or below the rate of GDP"

So, it can be done...but how?

Choosing to grow

Tuesday in Massachusetts several state agencies and private/public organizations collaborated to produce an Advanced Manufacturing Summit (#AdvMfg14.)

During his keynote luncheon speech at the summit, Governor @DevalPatrick spoke about various challenges around growing manufacturing, particularly advanced manufacturing in Mass.  There was the typical recitation of stats, accomplishments and 'programs.'  But most notably he commented that "Growth in manufacturing won't just happen.  We must choose to grow."

And that's clearly even more true at the individual company level.  One can accept that your boat is destined to simply rise and fall with the tide....or you can choose to grow.  Just as your choice to develop new products; to implement a lean program; to obtain ISO certification; or any of a number other operations focused choices are made conciously, similarly your choice to grow must be accompanied by a commitment, action and new activity.

The choice may not be easy or intuitive...and it's almost certainly going to be uncomfortable (at least at first.)  And you could just....skip it....

Steps to take

While you can't just wait for the phone to ring, and you can't arbitrarily cut marketing (the silly reflex of many) budgets, you need to reallocate.  Your normal three or four annual trade shows are still important to attend (B2B manufacturers still value those even if the marketing eggheads say they are going away!)  But after that.....

Truth be told you probably need to be making some of these changes anyway.  You've probably found sales stagnating as your traditional direct sales effort has begun to yield diminished returns.

And that shouldn't be surprising based on research that shows that 93% of B2B sales begin with an internet search (not cold calls, direct mail, networking, or the other traditional direct sales approaches) and further that the typical B2B buyer is more than 70% of the way through the buying process before they are interested in speaking to a rep.

So it's time (past time actually) to choose:
or instead of those proactive choices, you could always choose, by default and inaction, to let your business growth slow.  Your call!

If you're interested in our recommended approach, check out our guide here.

business growth, international business development, SMB marketing,