J : Lisa, in a nutshell, what are saavy firms doing to energize their sales growth?
L : Three areas must work in harmony to thrive in today’s volatile economy:
- A written, easy to understand, customer-centric growth plan.
- Passion for what you are doing that is fueled by a willingness to make the world better. This has to be part of your marketing and selling culture and processes.
- A system for addressing your B.S. (also known as your Belief System). In my book, I call this “the Beast.” Many of us have been knocked around and dragged through the mud during this recession. Without a strong B.S. management system, we lose our confidence in what is possible. Your business will ultimately suffer and your products and services will become commoditized.
J : You often quote Churchill on the importance of courage, esp. the courage to fail.
What, in your view, helps firms build that courage?
L : Yes. I love his quote: “Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.” When your growth plan is aligned with your customers’ strategic market imperatives, you avert commoditization. When that plan informs your market message and culture, then you become competitive in the marketplace. When your sales and marketing teams can consistently communicate that message and engage in meaningful, value-added relationships with key decision makers, you are unstoppable. An example: one IT company I worked with, by courageously making such changes, generated a pipeline of $435,000 in new business within four months.
J : Interesting. One of the things we’re seeing firms do is implement systems that improve buyer/seller alignment + improve the buyer experience. Are you seeing similar things?
L : Buyers today act differently than they did in previous decades. The Web has caused people to feel overwhelmed by information. They will pay others to simplify their lives. If your company provides that level of service, and you engage buyers in meaningful, authentic conversations, you’ll learn more with them + earn their business.
J : What’s your take on the overall importance of analytics in provoking change + energizing growth?
L : Let’s put it this way: In the 27 years I have spent advising B2B companies and interviewing over 100 CEOs, I have yet to find one that was consistently successful without tracking their key performance indicators. How else can you track the achievability of your plans and the effectiveness of your execution?
J : How can people learn more about building a high performing customer-centric culture?
L : I blog regularly for FastCompany and on my company website. You will find over 120 articles, B2B success stories, and examples on these sites. Register for my RSS feeds to stay abreast of the hottest trends. If you are looking for a good summer read, buy my book!