How stakeholder listening can support your business growth

Last month, we looked at the stakeholders, other than your clients, that you should be listening to in your business. This included your suppliers, your team and those highly valuable people who refer and recommend you to others.

Continuing on from this, I’d like to look at one of the biggest reasons why you should engage in this sort of stakeholder listening.

Quite simply, it can help support the growth of your business. And although there are many growth strategies you could adopt, I’ll be touching on just a few here:

Cost Leadership Strategy

Starting with the obvious one – it costs less to retain clients/staff/suppliers than to attract and onboard new ones.

So, keeping those you already have (all things being equal) will have a positive impact on your profit, even if you only grow your sales by a small margin. You may think you have a steady ship, but how sure can you be about that if you’re not listening to those stakeholders?

Depending on the size of your business, a sudden attrition of clients or staff in a particular area of your business could trigger a costly replacement exercise. It’s much better to be forewarned and forearmed, and deal with any niggles before they cause bigger problems.

And, if you’re thinking ‘independent listening is a cost to my business,’ it might just be worth adjusting your perspective and seeing that ‘cost’ as a sound investment – a lot more cost-effective than generating new sales or paying recruitment fees!

Product Development Strategy

If you’re thinking about evolving current, or developing altogether new, products – research is crucial.

Firstly, is there a demand? What new features would your clients or prospects like to see in the next iteration of your product or service? If you rely on a supply chain for production or delivery of your product, what ideas do they have for the next iteration of your offering? Can they support the proposed change, or do you need to involve additional suppliers?

Don’t forget to speak to your team as they will (or should) be very well placed to share their views on the evolution and development of your product range. Seeking stakeholder views, rather than ploughing ahead unsighted, will make your product launches more likely to gain traction and generate the desired sales.

M&A Strategy

If you plan to grow through merging with, or acquiring one or more businesses, maintaining stakeholder engagement throughout the transaction process is crucial.

You’ll need to not only listen to current stakeholders but also to those who will be coming on board as part of the ecosystem of the enlarged business.

How do your stakeholders feel about the proposed activity? Are they fearful for their position? During times of uncertainty, people can become distracted from delivering their best work so surfacing and allaying concerns (as far as you can) will help your business to continue to deliver for its clients during the often protracted negotiation periods.

Listening to stakeholders once the transaction has been completed could probably form the basis of a standalone edition of ‘The Happy Client’ – it’s at this point that listening can make or break the transformed company.

You need to keep a close eye on questions such as: How do clients feel about the changes? How well did they feel communicated with throughout the process? How are suppliers feeling about a potential rationalisation which could lose them business? In the event that you end up with duplicate or surplus suppliers, the way you conduct the offboarding of suppliers will speak volumes about your organisation, with any mishandling having the potential to cause significant reputational damage. The same of course, goes for staff – this is where your HR department and/or employment lawyers come into their own.

To wrap up, incorporating diverse perspectives and insights from different stakeholder groups can lead to much better-informed decision-making around your strategic direction. This, in turn, can help your business adapt to changing market conditions and respond to emerging opportunities.

Whatever your business growth strategy, I’d love to talk about how listening can support your objectives, so please do get in touch.

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