When a business’s growth stalls – as in ‘comes to a shuddering halt’ – the cause is usually obvious (or adjacent to obvious).On the other hand, when a business’s growth is experiencing a less precipitous decline, the cause of that decline is often harder to spot. As a result, it can take quite a while before the root cause gets identified and fixed, during which time you’re losing vital competitive advantage.
The first place I look? A shift in the customer / client demographic that management has failed to acknowledge and respond to.
Here’s why: Most of us as business owners, leaders or managers understandably get enraptured by the past-tense glow from great clients or customers we’ve worked with before. But yesterday’s (or last month’s, or last quarter’s, or last year’s – or, most worryingly, last decade’s) ‘great’ clients and customers reflect and shore up out-of-date perceptions of who our true customer (or client) is – now, today.
Does your business growth seem sluggish? Not sure why? Then chances are, you’re seeing your target customer / client through a distorted, out-of-date lens.
The answer? No matter how much you rightly love them, no matter how ‘great’ they were/are, don’t allow your past customers / clients to act as an echo chamber for your misperceptions. Instead, go talk with current and/or very recent prospects – especially those you didn’t land as customers or clients. They’ll tell you what they were looking for that you didn’t see or ‘get’. Re-calibrate accordingly.