Guest contributor Paul Wait of RedApple 7 gives his views…..
In my experience in business over the last 47 years the most common desire of any business has been growth. It is probably one of the most common measures that stakeholders, shareholders and investors look at. Most would say that growth is driven by consumer demand or a product or service that matches a marketplace need due to certain circumstances, market domination or a reduction in competition. Usually when people talk about growth the reasons given are heavily weighted towards internal drivers. However, when growth stops and goes into decline its usually external factors such as the Political, Economic, Social and Technological impacts that are held accountable.
When this has happened, I have seen businesses most commonly turn to their finance and procurement teams with an instruction to cut costs. Amongst the most common to feel the effects of this cost cutting exercise is usually recruitment, marketing, training and travel. Why stop investing in the critical elements that supported and drove that growth?
I am glad that hospitals do not apply the same type of thinking when a patient is ill. Why reduce the amount of medication or oxygen a patient needs at their most critical time? Is it because when growth stops businesses do not have the right Business Mindset Model?
The BMM I would suggest is as critical as any leading-edge product, strategy or variety of talent within a business. The BMM is the behaviour and culture that enables businesses to be customer driven, agile in its prediction or reaction to external factors, innovating daily and investing in its most important asset, its people.
Turning my attention to people and thinking of the thousands of those I have worked with and those i have had the pleasure of leading, the four most important factors for them have been career development, personal development, recognition and reward. When the customer and employees are front of mind and every strategy is built around them, then I would suggest that chances of success are high.
Today in many business publications, the phrase “skills shortage” is prevalent and seen as a major inhibitor to growth especially amongst smaller businesses. Added to that are probably a significant number of people who are either looking for work, looking to change job roles and looking to develop new skills and competencies. The question remains as to who pays or more importantly who is committed to their investment in either their business or their people. I shall forever be grateful to my first employer American Express Travel, whom I describe as my business school for 27 years. They were successful for many reasons but amongst them was their culture of continual learning, recognition and reward. I took those learnings to Virgin Atlantic and applied them with significant results over the next 13 years in collaboration with Quantum Sales and Marketing and learned and applied behavioural change and the creation of a highly professional and respected sales force by constantly investing in people development, a story I shall refer to in a separate article.
The answer to some of todays business challenges is simple enough but needs commitment and belief from the business and from the individual. One of my constant beliefs is that successful businesses put state of the art technology into the hands of outstanding people. Both need to be given continuous time and investment for growth and profit to reach its full potential.
There may well be people reading this who are already in sales but never had any formal training and coaching. There may well be people who have never thought about a career in selling. If like I was at one time a youngster keen to build career but not knowing what to do then this may well be worth consideration. Let us get one thing straight, selling isn’t about taking money from people for things they don’t want. Selling in my view is about persuasion, influence and building customer commitment. Everyone sells, you just might not realise you are doing it or may not be in a role that drives revenue. But I bet you try to influence people, whether its customers, colleagues, friends and family. If so, why not try and be more successful at it.
If you were to ask all the people that worked with me at Virgin Atlantic whom embarked on our journey with Quantum Sales and Marketing, many of whom are now with different companies, their most common comment would probably be “ I doubted it at the time but I’m so glad I did it, as now I stand head and shoulders above my competitors, whom unfortunately, really need help!”
In Summary my tips for growth be that personal or business are
1 Have a Business Mindset Model
2 Continually invest in yourself and your people
3 Grow your own talent, hire attitude and desire and then develop through a structured programme