Overcoming the Growth Plateau


where digital businesses fail

Hitting a growth plateau happens to incumbents and challengers of all sizes across all industries. Although growth plateau may seem to be a broad term, we all know this when we see it . . . stagnation of the core, declining profits, customer attrition, degrading competitive advantage.

With the increasing pace of change and consolidation in today’s markets, native digital businesses are inherently more vulnerable to the growth plateau trap in their race to a billion.

When a digital business grows, in their earliest growth stages they have to make an inherent leap from being product-led to being sales-led. The whale hunters, especially the first whale, gave the company grounding and scale. The jumbo contracts are forever alluring and allow companies to grow at remarking YOY pace.

Once a company grows to engineer a successful and enduring sales engine, the next phase involves true strategy. It requires evolving past the current customer-product mix that has gotten the company to where it is today. It requires stepping beyond the core, understand new, unmet customer needs and building offerings to address them. It also requires the market sense to sustain competitive advantage, target new markets and stay relevant. All in all, this means evolving to becoming a marketing-led business. This should be confused with over-investing in marketing tactics. Instead, this is about increasing a company’s ability to understand and respond to changing market dynamics while still staying true to an authentic vision.

Scaling Beyond the Growth Curve

To evolve the business beyond boots on the ground, hand-to-mouth sales strategies, a What is needed to move along the growth curve to sustained scale?

  1. Reaffirm a Unified Vision. Fearless visioning and long-term planning will be essential to beating the growth curve. The draw and urgency of the immediate distracts leaders. Theorists of disruption and innovation have named this common pattern as the “Tyranny of the Urgent.” To avoid this, a purpose reminder of the big picture, long-term is required. When is the last time your leadership team has refreshed your company’s long-term strategy? What is your north star? When asked, do the leadership team and staff articulate the same north star?

  2. Start and End with Your Customer. Embracing a marketing-led workflow, from marketing, to product, to sales puts the customer at the heart of business planning. Is your company in love with your product or understanding customer’s problem? How can you be sure? If you have any hesitancy, consider launching an expansive voice of client, voice of channel assessment to build customer journey maps, personae and other enablement tools to ensure this alignment.

  3. Building a Market Intelligence Function. Today’s pace of technological discovery and vertical consolidation has never been so rapid. To make sense of this changing context, companies are leveraging intelligence in novel ways to better see around corners and, ultimately, make business decisions. Companies cannot afford to ignore the need for a dedicated internal function dedicated to understanding their current and target markets. Market intelligence programs should be agile, broad and exploratory. Start small with fully-dedicated resources. You don’t need to be a Fortune 100 company to dedicate resources to focus on these questions. Start soon and you will be rewarded.