The basics of sales and entrepreneurship – everything that doesn’t grow withers
“All the barriers and barriers to growth exist only in our heads – they really don’t exist” Dr. Karl Pinczolits
As part of my 10X Growthcon participation, I’ll tell you a story I heard today at a breakfast table from an Austrian advertising agency owner.
He once attended a seminar where Dirk Kreuter, one of Germany’s best-known sales experts, talked about his difficulties in developing a business.
As a trainer, being a consultant is one of your biggest assets of the company at the time. We all know that time is a limited resource – there are always 24h a day, 7 days a week, 365 a year. It cannot be multiplied, incremented.
Like a manufacturing company, the success of a consultant depends on how well he or she manages his assets and resources. But there is a ceiling somewhere in the country.
Dirk had done very well in recent years and, as a consultant, had achieved optimism – his time at the border was well spent. The money came in and the profits were satisfactory.
Big customer charm and pain
One of the big reasons for the success of the business so far was one of the big mega customers – T-Mobile. If you don’t know this company, google – the name of the world in the telecom landscape. T-Mobile steadily commissioned sales training for its large team. Same fixed format, fixed number of days in a quarter – same location, same money, everything worked. And so, without any sales activity, one third of the turnover was stable. The first years were great. Dirk also learned by coaching and developing the client himself and not only benefited from stable cash flow. But the big customer has his own demands and a leverage in the negotiations.
In the years that followed, Dirk saw that the client could get even better results by changing the format and adding some elements to the program more and more thoroughly. T-Mobile declined, citing the classic reason behind the big company: “This is our budget. We order you a lot, you know it and that’s our condition. Then we came to a situation where, due to overall economic growth, inflation and rising costs, Dirk also wanted to raise the price of the service. As the quality of service had also improved, the price increase seemed to be well justified. Negotiations started. Client again: Dirk, we are a big client, see how much you can train people with us. Our volume is great and you will earn from it anyway. The price stays the same.
That’s our policy, and if it doesn’t suit you, we’ll find someone else. “
I believe this sounds familiar to many. I have seen so many companies facing the same problem as a sales consultant, later as a trainer and consultant. You have a big customer who brings in volume but the price is lower. In turn, the terms are fixed and the service requirements are high. She’s fine and she brings bread to the table. Provides a stable, solid volume. But does it help to grow? Did we start a business just to serve a few big clients from one country? How is this different from paid employment? Where is the development in this case?
The greatest danger to such apparent stability and security is that it moves the company into the comfort zone. The manager of a company from one country accepts the situation. “Okay, these are my volumes, you can’t add more or change anything under these conditions.” That’s because of time or money. Growth will cease and development will stop. The following comfort zone. Just like a plant. It does not grow higher than the environment and conditions allow.
Now that you want to grow the plant, what are you doing? You won’t wait. You cut. You limit the plant, you shrink it. Why? To ensure new growth. For new leaves, new branches can grow. Because what no longer grows dies one day. If necessary, fertilize or change the soil. You give it a bigger environment. In any case, you will lose temporarily. The plant is smaller, sometimes only the stems remain. Nothing is there for the time being. But then it will come. Faster, more. And to the next frontier. In order for a plant to grow, it needs to be cut down occasionally. As Tommy Helstein said, “You get everything you give up.” We can’t open a new door if we hold the old door with both hands at the same time. It is difficult to steer in one direction if you have two feet in different boats, one boat wants to steer and the other to change course.
Dirk understood that!
He saw that, yes, it is comfortable and good now. Stable, everything works. But is it sustainable? If I have the same customers, the same products, the same strategy all the time – is it sustainable? How can I grow like this? Is this what I started this business for? Does it, overall, give me development, joy? Mathematics, statistics, laws of nature: Everybody asserts that there is never one. If you start holding something, it can only fall in the long run. Like a plant, all that no longer grows will die at one point. The only way to keep something is to keep growing. Change, evolve.
Dirk cut it!
He realized that the fruits of the present tree were ready and falling. They fall down and eventually rot. These apples no longer grow. He suggested to the customer the fact that if the price or the portfolio of services offered did not develop, he would cease cooperation. Dirk was not ready to give up his flexibility and freedom in the name of existing cash flow and confidence. The customer did not recover. The cooperation ended. What do you think all his business associates and friends told him at that moment? “Are you crazy? How can you grow when you give up your biggest customer? ”But luckily for everyone, Dirk remained steadfast. All of the free time that came from serving a major customer led Dirk to develop the company and find new, better, growth-oriented customers. He decided not to settle for mediocrity, small business and do what his heart desires. Grow and thrive!
I do not need to say what happened next. Growth both internally and externally, and not small! Dirk was able to develop the company, create new products, find better customers and thereby grow himself. The work became exciting again. The challenges are daunting, but that’s what we live for. Ask some dignified people about the most memorable moments of their lives. Nobody is telling you how he just steadily tapped from morning to night from Monday to Friday.
Dirk’s story also helped me to take a critical look at both myself and the company. Me as a plant. Dominate Sales as a plant. Which branches and leaves grow, where the moments of stagnation and withering are seen. Are we evolving as a whole or has something started to slow us down? Are the products, the strategy and the approach, or our customers, stuck somewhere in the comfort zone? Also look at your plant. You cannot imagine how many medium-sized companies in Estonia have stayed in the comfort zone. A simple place to oak. Sleep behind the wheel. Not to mention people. Middle class, steady pay, same job for 10 years, zero development.
If you do not realize that you are still standing, then at some point nature will put you in front of you.
What you sow, you reap. You stayed on the laurels, the plant did not develop further – comes to life and ruthlessly transcends Sust. As trainers, consultants, we have had to rescue a plant that has already rotted or withered for much of three years. This is already difficult, if not impossible, and requires great losses and a long time to come back. If you, as a person or a company, have not grown or developed in the last two or three years, now is the place! Get started today! Dare to cut now before it’s too late! Review your plant. If you are already used to looking at her and therefore may not notice the actual picture, call someone aside. Consultant, coach, friend. Let me tell you straight and without illustrating what the state is. What to cut, what to cut and plan for a new jump! It will also bring joy and shine back to your eyes, not to mention a plant that can throw away excess and rotting and grow and bloom again!
Nature never stops, everything is in constant motion. Up and down. If you stand still, you can only fall. If you want to grow, dare to cut! If you want a faster result, get a gardening expert or in this case a trusted person, friend, consultant or coach. Be in touch!