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It's a big achievement: Posting revenue growth of any sort is something to be proud of in the shadows of a recession. But the companies on CRN's Fast Growth 100 list have experienced phenomenal increases in revenue -- 20 percent or more. Getting there is a combination of hard work and an ability to truly understand customers' needs.
CRN's Fast Growth companies are a resilient bunch. Our measuring stick was a company's average percent of revenue growth between 2007 and 2009 -- years representing the throes of the recession. Not only did these solution providers and IT consultants weather the storm, but they weathered it with an average growth rate of 110 percent.
Those are numbers no one can argue with. Want to crack the code? Here are ways from the fast-growing companies themselves -- along with an industry expert -- on the best ways to achieve similar success.
Tip No. 1: Listen To Your Customers
"Follow Grandma's advice: "You have two ears and one mouth.’ Use them in that proportion," said Malcolm Frank, senior vice president and chief strategist at Cognizant (2010 Fast Growth No. 55). Frank explained that at the start of the recession, Cognizant CEO Francisco D'Souza really focused on understanding how customers were viewing the economic environment. A large proportion of Cognizant's customers were in financial services, and if that ship didn't right itself soon, the solution provider would feel the waves.
After several weekendlong monthly meetings with top management in Germany, a picture began to emerge. "This was not a cyclical recession, it was a secular one," said Frank.
Cognizant's program, known as "Shining Through the Fog," took shape from those executive gatherings. The program focused on investing in Cognizant’s business and on understanding how customers need to invest in their own enterprises.
"It's really tough for a client to make changes when revenues are flat. We had to work with them to free up costs, to determine what gets outsourced, what goes elsewhere," Frank said. "Then they have to take those savings and invest them into core competencies to win in new markets."