Growth by acquisition has been a viable strategy in the technology service industry for decades, and there are some large “roll-up” plays currently active in the industry.
Growth by internal sales is hard work. Selling service is harder than it looks. When you’re selling a product, you’re selling a thing. It is +85 concrete, real, you can take a picture of it, you can demo it working.
When you’re selling a service, you’re selling a promise. It’s intangible. Like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder. This requires a much more sophisticated sales model, worked by highly-skilled folks.
A services acquisition involves people (customers & employees). The retention rate of the revenue of the base acquired is directly proportional to how well the acquired business is integrated. An acquisition brings in a new culture. Acquired workforces create horizontal pressure in the organization.
Internal sales growth extends the structure and staffing incrementally, driven by revenue increases. Internally-driven sales extends the current culture. Internal growth stretches the workforce and provides promotional opportunities.
There are some interesting parallels in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) marketing. Pay-per-click commodity programs can acquire immediate results, while organic programs create long-term equity.
Service organizations are best served with a strategy that blends organic and commodity growth.