Melissa Giovagnoli, President and Founder of Networlding, a top management and marketing consulting organization speaks with one of the leading growth strategists, Robert Rudy, about his work and his perspective on growth strategy. Below is Part One of a multi-part interview.
Robert, give me an overview of your work.
Most of my work is focused on helping clients grow their business.
Why do they need and outsider to help?
Well, often the path to growth is not obvious. Companies typically get really good at delivering a defined set of products or services, directed toward a specific set of customers. But they need to stretch in new directions for growth. That stretching is the hard part. Where should we stretch? How far?
Companies build systems, processes, people (and inertia) behind existing products, but do not dedicate similar resources to uncovering unmet needs or expanding into other ‘solution spaces’.
I work with clients to ‘stretch their muscles’ in areas maybe they have not exercised in a while. Finding new customers to serve, building new service offerings, discovering unmet needs in the market.
How do you go about doing that?
It is surprising how little direct input many companies get from their customers. So we typically start with in-depth discovery of how current customers use the client’s product or service. We also look at where the client could, but does not use the client’s services. Or where the client is performing a function internally which is reasonably close to the client’s ‘sweet spot. I guess the technical term would be ‘adjacent area in the value chain’.
We start with current customers because we have some sort of relationship to start with. Each party possess information on the other. What’s often lacking is a channel of communication consistently focused on uncovering unmet needs.
It’s surprising how many companies leave money on the table. I have clients that have missed literally millions of dollars of revenue by not providing relatively simple and straightforward ‘plain vanilla’ extensions to their core business offerings.
How can a company get good at building new revenue streams?
It has to become something you measure. You have to have goals. That’s the first step. What percentage of our revenue in 2 years will be from new customers or from products we don’t sell today? Andy Grove at Intel had some outrageous goals he set for the organization, and it became a relentlessly pursued goal, which resulted in a lot of innovation and a dedication to serving customer needs.
Second, as I alluded to before, get into a dialogue with your customers. Understand their needs from their perspective, in their language. Ask how you can help, ask for more business. Sure, some customers are looking only for a low price and think in terms of transactions, but many are very open to sitting down periodically to trade notes on where they are headed, what their challenges are and what their goals are.
Oh, and by the way, don’t leave this up to the sales department or solely the Marketing function. Revenue growth is far too important to leave exclusively in the hands of the Marketing department.Most companies will tend to stay focused on their core business and not drift too far from their core skills, but they still need to innovate. By facilitating this dialogue with customers, we listen, identify needs and open opportunities to build new revenue streams.
For more information on Robert Rudy, visit his website at