Growth stalls happen to the best of companies. Levi Strauss, Apple, Caterpillar. Daimler-Benz. Volvo. Even if you’re a rocketship with a stellar trajectory, you’re going to have to do some repositioning or refueling at some point in your journey.
First off, what is a growth stall?
A growth stall is when growth plateaus for a period of time you deem significant. That can be a week, a month, 3 months, or however long it impacts your company.
Believe it or not, we found that 40% of all channel resellers hit a growth stall in the first 14 months of selling a new product or service.
That’s an alarmingly high number. If you resell third-party products and services like websites, social media management, digital ads, SEO, content creation, or other solutions, you’re in this bucket of channel resellers. And while 40% of resellers hit that stall within 14 months, many fail to even get off the ground.
Over the last year, Vendasta dug into this dilemma and conducted surveys with our 1,400 channel partners to get to the bottom of why growth stalls happen. We found that the underlying reasons fall into six categories:
Let’s dig into each one.
Product problems are not always straightforward, but they certainly contribute to growth stalls. Lack of diversification, bad pricing, poor go-to-market strategies, and little differentiation between you and your competitors are classic causes of a growth stall stemming from your product offering.
Here are some article suggestions to combat product-related growth stalls:
Your ability to drive demand is a key factor between stalling out vs. accelerating.
Regardless of how fantastic your offering is, if people don’t know it exists, your business can’t sell it.
The thing is, driving demand—aka generating leads—can be overwhelming. Leads don’t just grow on trees. Marketing team or no marketing team, when a growth stall occurs, the marketing efforts have to react accordingly. It is important to develop a demand strategy and continue to re-evaluate it over time in order to get customers through the door.
Vendasta has developed a ton of content around how to tackle this (see below). From targeting customers based on those who bring you more LTV than CAC, to finding product-market fit through a well thought out go-to-market strategy, to leveraging exciting new product-led growth opportunities, all of these strategies are backed by industry stats and proven to drive demand.
Website & Organic Traffic
Digital Advertising and Social Media
Now that we’ve picked on marketing, it’s sales’ turn.
Without a scalable, predictable sales process, the leads that marketing worked tirelessly to generate will go to waste.
Growth stalls that occur from lack of predictability can be caused by a few things:
- Insufficient product-market fit from all customer cohorts - i.e., you've tried expanding too quickly into cohorts that don’t see the value of your offering.
- Misalignment and misunderstanding of customer needs
- Unscalable processes and tools are slowing your team down
- Poor training and sales management that don’t grow with demand
- Unclear reporting and metrics to drive the right behavior
Review the articles below to address these challenges.
Interested in needs-based selling? We have a blog for that. Looking for sales reporting to see how you’re doing? We have templates.
Prospecting & The Pitch
Scale is the holy grail, right? According to Score, scalability is about capacity and capability. Overlooking these is often the root cause of scale-related growth stalls.
If you have too much on your plate and you’re unable to take on new clients or deliver your offering in a timely way, you have a scaling problem. Similarly, if you’re scared to move out of where you feel comfortable, you are not going to scale.
How do you avoid scaling-induced growth stalls? It’s all about expert task management, solid onboarding, and a surefire fulfillment strategy to gradually scale without straining capacity.
The most important part? Creating repeatable processes for your company to follow over and over again.
Acquiring a customer costs 5x more than retaining an existing customer (Outbound Engine). Furthermore, the success rate of selling to a customer you already have is 60-70%, while the success rate of selling to a new customer is 5-20%.
Essentially churn is the monster hiding under the bed. When you lose customers, you not only lose revenue but you also lose brand advocates. Your present AND future are affected by customer churn.
Don’t forget about SaaS metrics, too! Retaining customers increases their lifetime value (LTV), and LTV is a key component to scaling demand. You want to invest in marketing channels where the LTV is at least 3 times as high as the cost to acquire that customer—so if you want to grow, focus first on retention.
Expansion in the context of this article is not the same as scaling. Instead, it means expanding your offering to become your clients’ single trusted provider.
If you only sell 1 or 2 solutions like websites or digital ads, your clients will have to go elsewhere for the rest of what they need. It means more logins, more bills, and disjointed reporting when they would rather have one person handle everything.
If you can be a one-stop shop for all of an SMB’s needs, you’ve won.
This has been proven to be beneficial to retention as well as revenue growth.
Expansion can be scary to the likes of managed service providers who aren’t comfortable offering marketing solutions outside their IT experience, or to marketing agencies trying to offer accounting solutions, or to banks trying to sell websites—but that’s the reality of what’s happening. There’s a land grab going on, and those who can figure out how to offer the full stack will reap the rewards.
In addition to becoming a single trusted provider, another benefit of expansion is upselling and cross-selling. It’s important to have a strategy that includes consistent assessment of customer needs and a discussion about how those products will fit with the ones the customer is already purchasing.
Getting Over Growth Stalls
By leveraging the resources in this article, you can address current and potential growth stalls before it’s too late. If you’d like to discuss these topics with one of Vendasta’s Growth Specialists, we’d be happy to chat. Get in touch today.