If you’re not sure how to best assess the opportunity to create a growth system in your firm, or worse, you’re feeling overwhelmed and not sure where to start, consider using my Growth Maturity Matrix as a useful initial step.
What is a Growth Maturity Matrix you ask? See the below four quadrant framework:
Two core dimensions that drive this matrix:
The Growth Maturity Matrix is designed to help correlate the impact of having the appropriate level of sales processes that yield consistent and predictable sales success.
The “Y” axis, or vertical axis, is a rating of your firm’s Sales Success on a 5-point scale with 1 representing poor performance and 5 representing great performance.
The “X” axis, or horizontal axis, is a rating of the robustness of your firm’s Sales Process using the same 5-point scale (i.e., a 1 equals virtually no process and a 5 equals very robust process & tools).
Plotting where your firm falls on the matrix
The key to plotting where your firm falls on the matrix is to be honest and, ideally, as data driven as possible. Additionally, since the scoring is primarily relevant to where your firm is today to create the starting point as you plot where you want to be, one approach that I often recommend is to start with the end in mind…
Envision a utopian future for your business in terms of overall growth with an emphasis on how sales operates and contributes by visualizing outcomes such as:
· “I understand and am confident that our weighted pipeline of A will contribute B in recognized revenue over the next C time frame and that our business will need to hire D additional FTEs to satisfy this demand.”
· “I understand and am confident that our Qualification process ensures we are investing the right amount of resources on the best opportunities for growth.”
· “I understand and am confident that when we pursue a qualified opportunity with the potential to contribute to our business in a meaningful way, that our odds of winning are better than my peers on average (e.g., greater than 33% for a net new client, ideally closer to 50%).”
Now that you’ve envisioned your business’s utopian future, use that as the mental model for the score of five (5) on both axes. To plot where you are today vs. your desired future state, I recommend starting with the Sales Success question first. Wherever possible, use actual data to drive your response. For firms without a sales pipeline/opportunity management tool, this can be a real challenge. If you’re in this camp, take the time to document all of the opportunities you can recall over the past 12 months and make note of where they dropped out of the funnel into either Closed Won or Closed Lost.
- Critical Sales Success Challenges: winning is elusive; the business is contracting
- Poor Sales Success: winning is sporadic and the business is contracting (potentially masked by organic growth/existing clients)
- Neutral Sales Success: winning enough to essentially maintain the business “as is” but not enough to materially grow
- Good Sales Success: enough activity and success to create positive momentum and grow the business
- Optimal Sales Success: near ideal state in terms of both sales activity and success, which translates into consistent growth outcomes for the business
Next, do a similar exercise for Sales Process, Tools, and Systematic approach based on where you are currently vs. in the utopian future you envision for your business. Again, depending on how close you are to the day-to-day of your firm’s growth activities, it can be helpful to document and, essentially, make an inventory of what exists today in terms of qualification, new business assets, pipeline management, and the tools & processes that drive both revenue and resource forecasting.
- Chaos: what sales process?
- Forming: various processes & tools used by different sellers and/or applied to different opportunities without clear rationale
- Storming: while not consistent, key processes & tools begin to emerge as team members see the benefits of leveraging “best practices” from peers and managers
- Norming: a systematic approach or OS for growth takes hold with consistent ways of working for opportunity qualification, use of weighted sales stages, and pipeline management
- Performing: with roles, processes, and tools in place, the team is able to focus on achieving common goals, often reaching unexpectedly high levels of success
I understand what quadrant my firm is in — now what?
Whether you intuitively know where your firm falls on this two-by-two or you went through the exercises outlined above to plot your location, the logical question is “now what?” — so here are some thought-starters:
LOWER LEFT — Limited Tools & Processes with Limited, or Lack of, Sales Success.
- This is where nobody wants to be, although it’s actually the easiest situation to impact positively by making a few changes.
- Start small; I recommend isolating down to one or two things that are having the most consequential negative impact on Sales Success and identifying no more than one or two things that can be done from a Sales Process & Tools standpoint to address these.
- Assuming there’s more than one team member involved in the sales process, a brief workshop with these individuals using proven Design Thinking co-creation activities can be an effective way to harness the collective intelligence of this group.
UPPER LEFT — Limited Tools & Processes, yet Solid Sales Success.
- This can be a really fun starting point if your assessment is accurate, because you likely have a really talented team, compelling offering or both.
- The key phrase, though, is “if your assessment is accurate”. In my experience, organizations that lack good sales processes and corresponding high-quality data on all opportunities tend to remember the good vs. the bad. So, if you’re in this quadrant, definitely double-check your data as a first step.
- Assuming your firm really is performing well without much process, I recommend a similar incremental approach to the one above for those in the lower left. Do a quick workshop with your team to identify and prioritize just one or two things that have the potential to make a positive impact. Now test, learn and optimize.
LOWER RIGHT — Robust Tools & Processes, but only Marginal or Sporadic Sales Success
- In reality, this is likely the toughest quadrant for a firm to be in. On paper you’re doing a lot of things right, but it’s not converting materially to the outcomes that you need to drive the business forward.
- Three “must do” recommendations for anyone in this camp:
1. Find the leak (Where do deals tend to fall out in the process?)
2. Go deep on qualitative loss analysis (I highly recommend engaging a third-party to conduct loss analysis interviews with former prospects.)
3. Determine if it’s the team, the offering or both
- Additionally, you may need to consider if there are any aspects of your process that are getting in the way of winning. It could be issues with bandwidth, a misprioritization of roles, and/or an aspect of the process that exists but is broken.
UPPER RIGHT — Robust Tools & Processes that yield Solid & Predictable Sales Success
- Congratulations, you’re in the most coveted quadrant on the matrix!
- Beyond a celebratory toast, there are three highly recommended actions for those in this quadrant:
1. What dimension(s) can you still improve on to move your score from a from a four to a five, and do you have the right metrics/KPIs in place to manage this progression (e.g., you’re already solid when it comes to both Win Rate and Conversion Rate; can you implement the Sales Velocity metric to further optimize your growth efforts)?
2. Are you leaving value on the table? Unless you’re already swimming in profits that you don’t know what to do with in terms of reinvesting into the business, it may time to test the elasticity of your pricing to see if you generate incremental margin without materially impacting your win rate.
3. What’s next? Most business offerings tend to not be static in terms of their relevance and demand (remember when digital firms just couldn’t secure enough Flash developers, and is anyone scrambling to secure that same skill set now? Yeah, didn’t think so…). So what is your strategy to leverage the growth success you’re enjoying today to fuel the innovation required to research & develop, package, and go-to-market with what is going to be hot tomorrow.
If you’re really struggling to assess where your firm should fall on the Growth Maturity Matrix either because you simply can’t be objective about your own firm or lack the experience to understand the various types and levels of Sales Process & Sales Tools that exist to know what other options (and therefore potential scores) are applicable to your business, please contact me.
NOTE: This article is also published on my website blog.