So there I was sat in a Steve’s office listening to him talk about all the reasons why his business wasn’t a success.
“And do you know what?” Steve said rhetorically, “I’ve had executive coaches before and nothing has changed”.
“Why did you bring me in?”, I asked.
“We’ve realised that by keeping on doing what we’re doing we’re going to keep on getting the same results.”
And that’s perfect because every business reaches a plateau where they bump along at a certain level of business. Often they’re not aware of the ways that a business can go to the next level. Because you can drag a business kicking and screaming up to a million turnover. However, trying to get one from one to two million is much more difficult. And you can’t do it by brute force. The same applies for going from 2 to 5 million and then up to ten or twenty million.
A business can only move onward and upward when the people in the business realise that they need to do something different.
I said so to Steve and then suggested we get right into the 145 question business audit I use to understand the business and identify areas to concentrate on.
We sat down and started to go through each question and as we talked I realised that it wasn’t the sales people that were the most pressing issue for Steve and his business.
His most pressing issue was that he didn’t know what his business stood for, why his customers were buying, where the business was going or even, how to get there.
“Right Steve”, I said, “the first thing we need to do is to look at where you’re going strategically and then to decide which tactics will help you get there the fastest”.
“Who needs to be involved in this?” I asked, “because you want people who are going to have an impact within the business.”
Steve thought for a minute and said, “my other director should be in on this and probably our sales people too.”
He ordered some tea for us both and then started ringing his people to come into his office.
After a few minutes there was a knock on the door and Dave Smith walked in. Steve introduced us properly and Dave sat down. As Dave sat down the door opened and a tray of mugs of tea entered into the room followed by Sally, who’d shown me to Steve’s office.
Sally said, “will this take long as I need to get back to the accounts?”
Steve looked at me and said “Sally is my ops director”.
“Ok”, I said, “pleased to meet you. To do it properly it could take an hour or more, it depends on how it goes…”
Sally looked annoyed but sat down.
With that I moved to the flipchart that Steve had unearthed and started to draw some circles. Each circle representing a year starting with this year and then moving into the future.
“Let’s start with what you’d like your company to have achieved three years from now. Maybe starting with the turnover and profit“ and placed the pen on the outer ring of the flip chart.
Sally said, “ I’d like to see us making at least 5 million by then.”
“No, I’d like to think we could be making 7 million”, Steve interrupted excitedly.
I looked at Dave, he looked back with a slightly bored and contemptuous expression on his face.
“What do you think Dave?” I asked him.
“Nothing really”, he said, “we can only sell what we’ve got. And people have tried to tell us what to do for years and it hasn’t worked yet”.
Now, you can probably see why the company is foundering slightly. Because all 3 people have different views of what is achievable within the same company. You may think this only applies to companies with problems. Believe me it doesn’t. And when the better companies sort their strategy out it means they’re going to absolutely be in the best possible position to decimate their competition.
Once again, remember this is a fictional company with fictional people although each element has happened in at least one company I’ve dealt with.