Early this year, I attended a networking event in Maine with a panel of six top CEOs from the Portland area. The focus of the panel was “60 Ideas in 60 Minutes.” This was a fascinating group that provided anecdotes on what made their businesses so successful and identified the key drivers to their success. This group made me think about several of my favorite quotes such as: “Be open to the different and do not let fear hold you back,” “When it comes to people, slow is fast and fast is slow,” and “Culture is paramount.”
But my biggest takeaways were three questions the CEOs repeatedly shared as being on their minds daily:
- How does revenue and profitability currently look?
- How can I get this done? (I don’t have the time!)
- How do we attract and retain top talent?
Having consulted with over 50 companies in the last three years, I have learned the impact sales revenue and profitability have on the entire organization. Company happiness is directly and indirectly impacted by the strength of short and long-term sales. When sales (in particular, very profitable sales) are increasing, there is the feeling that all things are possible! This revenue provides the means to add new systems and services within the company to become more effective and efficient – and ultimately sell more. Other key pieces for driving revenue are having a unique selling proposition, a process to manage the sales funnel, and metrics in place to enable accurate forecasting.
Many CEOs of small to medium sized businesses are the equivalent of a “five-tool player” in baseball. Meaning they wear many hats and are well-rounded in the operational areas of the organization, including sales. However, as a company grows, so does the CEO’s inability to do everything well. Building effective systems and processes within the company is necessary to help save time and increase operational effectiveness. This allows delegation and specialization within the organization. Also, as these systems and processes are being developed, metrics must be in place to easily identify inefficiencies and make improvements.
Attracting and Retaining Sales Talent
Today’s employment environment has changed. Unemployment in the U.S. is at an all-time low of 3.5%, well below the assumed structural unemployment level of 5%. This is a buyer’s market! Having the resources to find, attract, screen, and select sales talent is often a challenge for the small to midsized business. More importantly, once a candidate turns into a hire, a company must have a detailed onboarding process that starts before day one and then continues to develop the new hire. Remember: it is not a matter of “if” they leave, but “when.” You can prolong their time with your organization by investing in them. Consider what they will say about your business when they do leave, because that also will impact your ability to make new hires.
What Can We Learn?
As continually reiterated by the panel of CEOs, the fundamentals of a company’s success are rooted in the ability to “win” in these critical areas. Determine your unique value proposition, be fair and forthright on expectations, build or buy systems that save time and make your company more efficient, and treat your people well.
The Bottom Line
Driving the fundamentals of winning starts with creating a strategic plan and building your team. At Sales Xceleration, we specialize in developing your team by focusing on these principles. We create a customized company Playbook to define processes, operating procedures, and values to establish consistency throughout your business. For more information, take my online Sales Agility Assessment, or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.