(Reading time 4 mins. In 2017, let’s be conscious, not be compulsive and mindless in chasing growth. It works.)
2016. Oh, what a year it was! An interesting cocktail of emotionally charged outcomes.
To quote a few notable ones – Rise of populism, shift in geo politics and power, $3.3 trillion of takeovers chasing growth, AI coming of age, self driving cars, fake news, Oil play, shipping bankruptcy, people going gaga over ‘Pokemon Go’, attacks in Brussels & Nice, Aleppo and a fast changing world innovating and disrupting at a rapid clip.
Without judging anything that has happened let me ask you a question?
How did 2016 make you FEEL?
Did you feel empowered or disillusioned? Only you know the answer.
In my case, I am coming out of 2016 with mixed feelings.
Whichever way I look at it, I am quite sure that we are being setup for one hell of a ride. It’s not going to be smooth, predictable and remotely uninteresting.
It could jolt some of us, throw many of us into realms of new opportunities or challenges and even force us to step out of our comfort zones. For people in sales profession, 2017 is definitely a make or break year.
This is a nice segue to ask the next question.
As sellers, what do you think you will need to be successful in 2017 and beyond?
To get your thoughts going I will make my case to this question in 3 parts:
Part 1 – Corporate profits are trending at an all time low
It’s true that the 30-year period of unprecedented corporate-profit growth could be drawing to a close. Competition is intensifying as emerging-market companies go global and technology and technology-enabled firms make rapid moves into new sectors.
We are bang in the middle of hyper competition. The competitive landscape has grown more complex, and the pace of change is accelerating.
Profits are shifting from traditional industry to idea-intensive sectors that revolve around R&D, brands, software, and algorithms.
In tech, traditional players (HP, IBM, DELL and the likes) are loosing it out to the disruptors (Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Nutanix, Dockers). What was once a fortress of a business model has been poked and punched out of shape by the new hungry entrants.
The gap between market leaders and the rest of the players is widening. The winner-takes-all dynamic is quite prevalent with a wide gap between the most profitable companies and everyone else.
For example, Amazon, Uber, Google and the likes dominate market share and appropriate greater than 50% of the profit in their respective category.
In summary, profit pools are trending low and are being captured by few big players.
Part 2 – Companies are pursuing short term mindless growth trying to survive
When the cauldron sizzles the squirrels fight for survival.
True to the saying when both growth and profits are choked, companies tend to do whatever it takes to survive. In doing so they pursue the path of doing too much, too many and become too complex.
Deep inside, leaders in respective industry know that pace of growth expected is not natural but nevertheless they end up pursuing it to keep themselves in the race.
Need and greed perhaps.
They continue to tread the path of blindness, of personal short-term gain rather than long-term sustainable growth. Volkswagen, Wells Fargo, Prudential and many more companies have lost the plot and succumbed to short term ‘I got to grow and win somehow‘ mindset.
They fall prey to the mythical concept of doing more and getting there first.
Some kind of school boy race.
When growth is the only compulsive thing in a leader’s mind, the next move is to pursue blind acquisitions (example: HP’s acquisition of Autonomy, Verizon’s anxiety laden acquisition of Yahoo), launching ‘me to’ products and scaling new markets without a well thought out plan (example: Uber in China).
Inquiry: Are you a seller in a company that is trying to grow somehow? Is your company following a short term ‘spray and pray’ strategy?
Part 3 – What is your role, as a seller, in this mix?
Now to the proverbial question. What is your role in this environment as a seller? Co-operate and compulsively pursue mindless targets and quotas set by your company? To be confused and conflicted internally yet try to do the same thing again and again?
Or think different?
Before you make up your mind, let’s first understand the meaning of the word compulsive from Cambridge dictionary.
:(of a person) acting as a result of an irresistible urge to do something.
It is akin to performing an act persistently and repetitively without it necessarily leading to an actual reward or benefit.
To further qualify compulsive actions here are some questions worth pondering:
• Is your company growth strategy led by customer need and desires?
• Does your business have a point of view on what services or products will your client needs?
• Is your company’s growth strategy sustainable?
• Is your key leadership team in sync with the growth plan?
• Are you key clients appreciative of your strategy?
• Does it make sense to you personally?
• Or you are just selling without giving it a second thought? Maybe you need a job.
Do you have answers to these questions? If yes, does it tilt towards compulsive behaviour or one that makes sense?
Well, if the mindless approach to growth is not the way to go what else could be the other alternative?
Can we explore ‘conscious’ growth for a change?
Again let’s first understand the meaning of the word ‘conscious’ from Cambridge dictionary.
:awake, thinking, knowing and responding to what is happening around you.
Conscious growth is about growing with an intent to add real value to clients and customers. As Sanjay Khosla (author of Fewer, Bigger, Bolder) points out, conscious growth is about being better, with narrower markets, fewer products, deeper expertise, and a more focused positioning in the market.
Is your company pursuing conscious growth with a purpose or compulsive growth of ‘any kind’ to please share holders?
At a more personal level, conscious growth is NOT about growing your bank account. It is about growing in multiple dimensions, both personal and professional, where you feel that you are growing by benefitting your clients, community and society at large.
Not by simply selling archaic hardware (close to end of life), stuff channels and sell software that is going to sit on the shelves forever.
This is where Microsoft once lost its plot few years ago. They were too caught up with the worldview of Office and Windows and failed to see the needs of their customers. Things changed when Satya redefined the company’s worldview and made a conscious move to look at a higher mission.
Steve Jobs said, “people think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on but that’s not what it means at all. It means saying NO the hundred other good ideas that are there”.
Same works well in selling too.
As a sales professional, you got to make a conscious choice as to which company you represent? what problem do they solve for customers? does it really benefit clients? does it uplift client stake holders and make them successful? does it really add societal value?
No amount of sales training or enablement is going to prepare you for that.
When you align your conscience to this ‘abundance mindset’ you will automatically attract CXOs who want to do business with you.
Because you are no longer selling to hit a quota. You have chosen to make a significant contribution by serving your clients. Mind, body and soul.
That’s a different thinking and experience altogether.
The world order has been jolted and is slowly finding its footing after a severe bout of indigestion (populism trumping elitism). Powers to be underestimated and conveniently ignored the fact that the world is a ‘system’.
The consequence? It has proven, in no unambiguous terms, that it does not allow compulsive abuse of any kind.
Same principle applies to corporate growth and our job as sellers too. The more we push towards being compulsive and do things for the sake of doing it – we will be banging our heads on the wall. Compulsively.
And it will hurt us again and again. No amount of training and intervention is going to help.
Being conscious, being intentional to dig deep and serve our clients is the only way to go. We all, internally, know that is the right path. Somehow we tend to be compulsive and chug along.
We all are much better than being compulsive. We can choose to be conscious, empowered and add tremendous value to both ourselves and our clients.
While you mull over some of these musings, I take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year.
Mags, The B4B Guy.
Follow through my other articles on B4B idea
1) Are you a B2B or B4B Company? Find out. [5 Minutes read. Plenty of examples and inquiry].
2) Why B4B Selling is the way to go? [3 minute read. Challenges B2B seller’s thinking]
3) B4B Companies are H4H companies too [3 minutes read]
4) B4B companies don’t F##& up their culture [3 minutes read]
PS: Picture courtesy – www.dilbert.com