Article
June 12, 2024

Business growth strategies: insights from Nomination's journey

by 
Vincent Gouedard
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Nomination is a B2B smart data platform that enhances the effectiveness of clients' prospecting and email marketing efforts. Led by Serge Papo and Benoit Marcellin, the company has been a strong presence in the business world for 22 years and exemplifies the importance of agility and foresight in following industry shifts. 

Nomination’s story can teach you about the power of innovation and the importance of customer-centricity for long-term success. By understanding customer behavior, personalizing engagement, and often launching new services, the company continues to forge lasting connections.

In this article, we share Benoit and Serge's insights into strategic decision-making, the role of management control systems, and the balance between innovation and stability to help you make the most out of your business journey. 

 

Nomination’s journey

Pivots and evolution

Nomination's journey reflects the choice of strategic pivots and continuous evolution. 

  1. Initially focused on providing annual data to qualified decision-makers, the company underwent a significant pivot in 2017-2018, transitioning from selling data to leveraging it for tangible outcomes. 
  2. This shift marked a move towards offering prospecting and lead generation tools, effectively transforming Nomination from a data-centric entity to a proactive tool for business growth.
  3. The company recently diversified its services by introducing a third activity focused on generating client meeting opportunities

Despite its longstanding presence, Nomination remains dynamic, accepting to go through changes and exploring new services to serve its clientele better and stay on top of the industry. As Serge mentioned: “It's been a long time since we were a start-up, but it doesn't prevent us from perpetuating the change”.

Innovating to adapt to challenges

However, with growth came challenges. As the company expanded to 70 employees, strategic decision-making became more complex.

Serge Papo, Nomination's General Director, underscores the difficulty of maintaining coherence amid expansion, particularly in aligning evolving products and services with customer expectations. Moreover, integrating management control early on was crucial to effectively translating commercial activity into operational margins and ensuring sustainable growth.

 

Nomination's approach emphasizes collaboration and shared accountability, particularly between marketing and sales teams

📌 Nomination highlights regular operational committees and a culture of mutual respect to achieve its goals.

 

Strategic decision-making

Serge and Benoit explain how they had to adapt to making strategic decisions in a larger organization to deal with the company's expansion, noting that the weight of the company makes it more difficult to change direction easily.

 

Management control 

  1. First and foremost, they advise following customer feedback and market demands to guide your company’s evolution.
  2. Additionally, expanding your offers and services will inevitably complexify your operations. That’s why Serge and Benoit recommend dedicating time to your management control system to handle the challenge of dealing with additional layers of decision-making. For instance, Nomination invested in management control systems like Fincome to enhance decision-making capabilities. This data analysis tool helps you integrate a broad range of metrics and KPIs, allowing for better analysis and comparison with market benchmarks to foster future growth. 
  3. Benoit also emphasizes the importance of aligning your metrics with market standards to facilitate informed decision-making: “Typically, a tool like Fincome allows us to recalculate churn rate according to market standards and therefore to have a point of comparison that allows us to have better driving and better decision-making.”

 

Financial Professionalization

As part of the management control systems employed at Nomination, Serge and Benoit emphasize the importance of integrating financial management practices into the company's operations, especially as it transitioned from a start-up to a more structured organization. 

 

As they mention: “With the arrival of the fund, we became more professional. It was a significant part of your activity. […] I think it's a question that concerns many founders. Many are not sufficiently professionalized in financial management”. Nomination’s shift towards more structured financial management practices involved the implementation of financial indicators, budgeting processes, and quarterly reviews to enhance financial oversight and decision-making. 

 

Finally, Serge stresses the importance of aligning marketing efforts with sales objectives to achieve business growth. By tracking the effectiveness of marketing campaigns in generating new business, Nomination ensures synergy between marketing initiatives and revenue generation.

 

📌 Essentially, integrating structured financial management practices and aligning marketing with sales will help you enhance oversight and decision-making.

Keep in mind that growth necessitates adaptation and anticipation to go smoothly. Make sure your company structures are prepared to handle the change!

 

Financial metrics to maximize growth

Why is it so essential to track financial metrics for growth? 

Tracking financial metrics is essential for maximizing your growth. As your company evolves, you will need comprehensive financial metrics to navigate your start-up’s journey. According to Serge: “[The financial metrics] on which we have our eyes are those on which we can have a direct impact.” 

 

One key aspect Nomination’s directors discuss is the need for alignment between business activities and financial outcomes. Understanding how operational decisions impact your company’s financial health will help you make better choices. On the other hand, simply focusing on acquisition without considering retention can lead to unsustainable growth patterns. 

 

A good financial analysis was pivotal in driving Nomination’s growth strategies. The team used metrics to identify growth opportunities better, looking at emerging market trends and customer preferences. This also helped them optimize their resource allocation to maximize revenue.

 

📌 You can better understand the relationship between acquisition efforts, customer retention, and profitability by tracking your financial metrics. You can also use it to track your progress towards strategic goals and better assess your growth initiatives.

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Key financial health metrics

You must look at key metrics for the best financial insights and a holistic view of your operations. Based on Serge and Benoit’s insights, several financial health metrics emerge as crucial for businesses aiming to maximize growth:

 

  • Order volume: Monitoring the volume and trends of your incoming orders provides valuable insights into the effectiveness of your sales and marketing efforts. It serves as an early indicator of business activity and potential revenue generation.
  • Billing and revenue generation: Tracking billing and revenue streams is essential for assessing your company's financial health. It reflects the actual realization of sales and the inflow of funds, which are critical for sustaining operations and fueling growth initiatives.
  • Customer retention and churn rate: Understanding these is vital to assess the long-term viability of your venture. High churn rates can indicate underlying product/service quality issues or customer satisfaction and emphasize the need for proactive retention strategies.
  • Profit margin: Analyzing profit margins will help you evaluate the efficiency of your operations and pricing strategies. Maintaining healthy profit margins is essential for sustaining growth and reinvesting in business expansion.
  • Cash flow management: Fundamental for ensuring the liquidity and solvency of your business. Monitoring cash flow metrics, such as cash conversion cycle and working capital, can help you meet your financial obligations and seize growth opportunities.

 

📌 Tracking and analyzing these fundamental financial metrics will give you actionable insights into your performance, help you identify areas for improvement, and make informed decisions to drive sustainable growth.

 

Balancing acquisition and retention

Building specialized teams

Another key insight from Nomination’s journey concerns having specialized teams for effective business operations. 

 

Serge and Benoit suggest that employees should focus on acquisition, customer development, and retention, but not simultaneously. This specialization allows team members to excel in their respective roles and ensures a more targeted approach to each aspect of the business.

 

They advise entrepreneurs to consider this specialization early on for start-ups or growing companies. While it may seem natural to prioritize acquisition in the initial stages, neglecting retention can lead to challenges later. Understanding the balance between acquiring new customers and retaining existing ones can establish a more sustainable growth trajectory.

 

From their journey with Nomination, the two entrepreneurs explain the complexities

that arise when teams are not specialized. For instance, acquisition-focused individuals may prioritize signing new clients without considering the long-term implications for retention. Conversely, those tasked with retention may need help maintaining customer satisfaction if they're also responsible for acquisition efforts.

 

Long-term success strategies

To help you find the right balance between acquisition and retention and maximize your team's efficiency, here are some key tips from Serge and Benoit:

 

  • Establish clear team roles with individuals specializing in either acquisition or retention/customer development. Even if your company is in its early stages, consider investing in specialized teams to lay a foundation for sustainable growth.
  • Balance acquisition and retention to ensure long-term success.
  • Encourage collaboration between marketing and sales teams to align efforts with business objectives and enhance overall performance.
  • Assess the performance of your specialized teams regularly and adjust strategies to maintain an optimal balance between acquisition and retention.
  • Build a company culture that values performance and employee well-being, fostering a positive and productive work environment.

 

By laying a good foundation from the outset, you will avoid becoming dependent on constantly acquiring new customers to offset churn and ensure long-term viability and profit.

 

Conclusion

Nomination's journey showcases adaptability, innovation, and strategic decision-making in business evolution. It consistently embraced change from its inception to becoming a leading B2B platform.

Serge and Benoit emphasize strategic pivots in response to industry shifts, transitioning services and expanding offerings to meet evolving customer needs to stay ahead.

Nomination's journey underscores the importance of effective management control systems and financial professionalization for sustainable growth. This involves aligning operational decisions with economic outcomes, ensuring stability and progress. Additionally, collaboration between specialized teams enhances acquisition and retention strategies, contributing to Nomination's ongoing success.