If you are the owner of the business, you focus on:
- Articulating the vision and developing the right culture
- Creating a strategy and leading the execution
- Connecting with customers / prospects and creating a great service offering
- Hiring great people and developing them into leaders
- Implementing processes and systems that will maximize productivity for the finance, operations and sales and marketing groups.
If you are the sales manager, you spend most of your time on sales. Since most sales managers are judged solely on sales and margin growth, they better keep focused on sales. Finance and operations will take care of themselves.
A good sales manager is focused on:
- Connecting with customers and prospects
- Hiring, training and retaining the very best sales talent (even if they work in the operations or finance group)
- Developing a great sales process and messaging for the sales team
- Sales numbers
A Focus on Only Sales Can Slow Growth
As strange as it sounds, focusing solely on sales can limit the growth of your company. In my experience, new sales begin to hurt a company if they haven’t adequately developed their operations, finance and marketing groups.
As an executive coach and business strategist, I help companies accelerate their growth. I work with companies that are at a cross road, where the founder is struggling to get their company to the next level. These companies typically have been around for 10 years and have revenues of $10-15 million.
Often, the owner and his team have an almost obsessive desire to grow their sales, yet they find themselves stuck enough that they hire an outside firm to help.
Building a Foundation for Growth
To help my clients grow, I first assess their current state. I have learned that many, if not most companies have very weak organizational structures because they are so biased toward sales growth.
Typically, the owner behaves more like a sales manager than as a business owner. Since, most startups fail due to lack of sales, the sales bias is justified when the company is new.
Lack of sales kills start-ups, but lack of organization and structure prevents sales growth for small and medium size businesses. To get to the next level, the owner and executive team must change their focus.
Build It and They Will Come
When I help new clients develop an organization and structure, many are initially impatient. They want to discuss sales strategies and nothing else. They are like the top heavy weight lifter at the gym who only works on his upper body – he can’t see that his huge upper body looks silly attached to stick legs.
To get a structure in place, I meet with the leadership team and we agree to the groups, typically sales & marketing, operations and finance. Next, we determine what each group will be accountable for. I always ask the team to agree on just 5 specific responsibilities for each group.
Next, we discuss who should head up each group. This step is always interesting. We are picking the person who should have this job going forward, not who has the job currently. Companies and leadership teams evolve and sometimes the guy who sits in the chair isn’t a good fit anymore – maybe they were never were. This step empowers the leadership team to get everybody in the rights seats and playing to their individual strengths.
So Does It Work?
Developing a solid organizational structure with specific responsibilities sounds boring, but it works every time. I get great feedback from my clients on this exercise. Typical comments include:
- “Our company feels focused”
- “The new structure improves cooperation, communication and accountability”
- “Now that I only wear one hat, I feel energized”
- “We are much more productive”
- “This is the foundation we needed to grow”