Curing and preventing company cancer are necessary before everything blows out of proportion. Today, Ken Courtright shows us just how important it is to have leaders who can detect inefficient employees or those who are preventing company growth. He dedicates this episode to help us analyze prior growth and understand the psychology of it. Identifying the cause is important when you seek for greater gains and revenues.
Listen to the podcast here:
The Who Of Growth
This is episode 65. I’m calling this Growing Backwards. The reason is we’re at the bottom left of our Growth Checkup Chart. Episode 63 covered the four governing growth principles, how you cannot sustain long-term growth without these. Episode 64 was the fuel and the guidance system of the growth rocket. These were the four leadership principles of growth. Rocket ships can’t reach the sky without these. Episode 65 could be called The Psychology of Growth. We’re going to take a look at the past and find out why maybe your company or previous companies you used to work at stopped growing. Sometimes when you know the why behind why there is no growth, you can get a crystal clear map of how to grow. Episode 65 is about looking backwards.
Why Some Companies Never Grow Or Never Grow Again
What brought you to this point? Why are you following this podcast? Part of the psychology of growth is understanding why some companies never grow or never grow again. They never grow again is the key here. It’s critical that we understand how come 439 of the Fortune 500 from 1955 are no longer here? You might say, “That’s years ago.” The industries they were all in are still around. There is a bigger player in their space. The question is how do the biggest companies in their industry, with supposedly the smartest minds in sales, marketing, management, product development, go away and shut down when there are dozens, if not hundreds of other companies that survived and passed them in the same space? What happened?
The majority of these cases, those companies did not grow because the leadership of those companies had risen to their level of incompetence. They stopped learning and more importantly, as proof that other companies began passing them by, they chose not to bring in outside help. As Zig Ziglar put it, “They cooked in the squat.” They get stuck in the market will come back or tomorrow will be better. We all know tomorrow is great every day for those that make it. We are on the bottom left of the growth checkup chart. Let’s look at the few reasons growth may have stopped or slowed. See if you can find yourself in any of these following scenarios.
You were inspired, had an idea, started a company, went to work and sold a great deal and now things are flat. Maybe you used to be an independent contractor or a sales rep for a company. You left them to start a similar product line. Your company sold for a while, now things are flat. Maybe you worked for a company in the back end, either in manufacturing, accounting, but you were part of something great, something profitable. You left, started a fast-growing company on your own, now things are flat. Maybe you joined a well-oiled team. You were part of a team and the product had been selling for years and you played a major role.Product death is inevitable. Company death is not. Click To Tweet
Now all on that team are trying new techniques monthly, but nothing is resurrecting sales. Maybe you sold for a company, learned how to sell anything and you left to start your own company. You grew for a while and now you’re flat. You had an idea, you raised a lot of capital, built something quick, sold a little bit but didn’t establish long-term proof of concept. Possibly, you started something or joined a team in another way, part of something special. You grew like a rocket and suddenly the bottom fell out and death was instant. Here’s what is great about every one of those slow death scenarios. In episode 63, I covered principle number one, past growth is not an indicator of future growth.
Digital Footprint Of Your Competitors
That is principle number one that undergirds all growth. Principle number one has a reciprocal, I call this the resurrection principle. The resurrection principle is current failure to grow is not an indicator of future death. Death is not inevitable. Product death is inevitable. Every product will die 100%. The main sources of income fail for a household and any company 100%. You take any company. Their number one revenue stream will fail. It doesn’t mean the company is going to fail. It doesn’t mean the household’s going to fail, but jobs get lost, products change, markets change. That’s how it goes. Product death is inevitable, company death is not. Let’s break these down. In the first three scenarios, which were number one, company started via inspiration, not experience. Number two, you sold for a company and left to start your own. Number three, you worked at the back end of a company. You left to start your own. All of those you started had some sales and sales are not flat. What we’re going to do here is we’re going to look and then we’re going to record.
A, are there other companies growing in your space? B, record exactly how they are growing. Do they have maybe an existing database? Do they have TOMA, Top Of Mind Awareness from years of marketing? Do they have massive social media followings? Do they have a huge direct sales organization knocking on doors and making cold calls? Have they SEO a website that dominates search and generates leads for free? How exactly are they growing? C, record on a whiteboard, not a computer, but a big 4×8 foot whiteboard for you to see exactly what they are doing that your company doesn’t do. Once you have that analyzed, then you need to do what is called a SWOT analysis, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats not on yourself, but on those other companies growing. Tear them apart. Finally, do a SWOT analysis on your own company and you have to do yours last because you will be exposed to completely different things you didn’t think you had as weaknesses.
You’re going to do what’s called a Digital Footprint of all those competitors. If you don’t know what that is, read some of my prior episodes and then you’re going to do the Digital Footprint on your own company. Including and especially every web property those companies own, which includes all their social media platforms. You need to find, what is the total aggregate following each of those companies has on social media like Facebook and Twitter? That is not optional. Once all this is recorded, this is letter D, what is the difference in manpower that would allow you to compete and match or beat those growing companies? Who are you missing? It’s not, what are you missing? It’s not what you don’t know. It’s not the techniques they’re using to grow. It’s who is at the helm growing those companies. Meaning, if they have content directors, PR directors, SEO specialists, bloggers, you got to find out who’s pressing the buttons, causing their growth and then you go find those people.
Letter E, contract those people. Sometimes it’s even the same people working for a competitor because they’re contracted. Contract those people on a paper performance basis, on a trial. If and when it works, then you partner with them. These are obvious general growth tips. I’m using broad strokes to cover many situations. However, the largest consulting firms in the world have been prescribing this exact diagnosis and remedy for decades in the same general broad stroking fashion. Why? Because it works. Let’s look at the next group of scenarios. It’s similar but different. I lumped the next group together because the blanket broad stroke solution here is considerably different. It takes a lot more energy and understanding and a huge degree of what’s called EQ, emotional quotient. The first remedy I gave you, it’s purely IQ. It’s logical, mathematical and it makes sense. This next scenario takes us down a slippery and dangerous road. I want to cover it slowly.
The next group of people, you joined a well-oiled team with an established product and sales are flat. Maybe you had an idea, you raised a bunch of capital, you built a team, you’ve sold a bit, and then you died. You started something or joined a team that grew a bigger team and you grew like a rocket and suddenly died. This is similar but not the same. Every remedy I mentioned for those smaller companies where you analyze and SWOT and footprint the company’s growing, you have to do exactly the same thing with these scenarios. Except, this is a deeper situation, you’d have to take it a step further. In these scenarios, there is something systemic and even virally wrong. In the first groupings of growth, they were maybe what I call a SOHO, small office, home office. Maybe it was an individual, maybe a one man band, maybe a small company that hit the wall. In these last three scenarios, a collective group of people have bought into and are currently swallowing death. This is much more painful and cancerous.
I’ve explained in a prior episode, in 2000 I was brought into a publicly traded company because a manager had somehow heard about us. The manager heard we had an innate ability to resurrect a sales office or a complete company. They found out that “Today’s Growth Consultant had an innate ability to resurrect an office or a company.” That’s a quote from a gentleman named Steve. After talking to Steve, I get them on the phone and I said, “Why exactly do you think you need me?” He said, “We’re in 33rd place.” I’m thinking, publicly traded companies. His company is massive, everybody knows his company. I said, “33rd place, you must have 250 offices.” He goes, “Ken, we have 33 sales offices worldwide. I’m in 33rd place.” I go, “You’re in last place.” I said, “I’ll be there Monday.”
I did a 91-day resurrection plan. I walked in and after meeting Steve for a couple of hours, I said, “This is obvious. This place is full of cancer. This branch office has to be blown up.” He said, “What are you talking about?” I said, “I’m going to do the most severe weeding and feeding I’ve ever done in my life. You’ve got eight sales reps on the one day that I rode with these people for two hours.” What we did is we played off that I was going to come in as a salesperson. I went in and I rode with 3 or 4 sales reps each for half an hour. It was instant cancer. Every sales rep was badmouthing the products, the company, management and the benefit. Everything sucked. I was like, “This is bad.”Growth has always been about who is doing it, who is behind the levers moving those marketing concepts. Click To Tweet
I went back to Steve. We went to dinner. I said, “This is simple.” I said, “You need an immediate fix.” He’s like, “Yeah.” I said, “Do you trust me?” He goes, “I don’t know you well, but you’re already signed up. Let’s roll.” I said, “I have to let six of these people go. The only two I’m keeping are the two people that have only been here twenty days. I can fix them.” I said, “In 72 hours, we’re going to make phone calls. We’re going to call head hunters. We’re going to get six people that have never sold telecom before. We’re going to have eight people that don’t know anything. They’re going to listen to every word I say and they’re going to do everything I say.” He’s like, “Alright.”
The next day I walked in. We told them the truth that Ken is not here as a salesperson. He’s here to resurrect things and we let six people go. Security walked them out the door that day. We hired six new people, three by that following Friday, and three the next Tuesday. By Wednesday, we had our first sales meeting and the long and short of it is I switched this organization from getting paid a salary plus once in a blue moon selling something. They were averaging 1.25 appointments a week. When I left there 91 days later, these rookies were averaging 4.75 appointments a week. The only thing that I did tactically, I said, “There are no more leads. The leads are the phone book.” We’re dialing and cold calling every Monday. The only appointment you can book is Friday at 3:00. I don’t care what anybody says. I don’t care if they’re taking bids. You can only book 3:00 on Friday.
When you book that appointment, you can only book 11:00 in the morning on Friday. When you get booked, you can do Thursday at 3:00 then Thursday at 11:00 then Wednesday at 3:00 and Wednesday 11:00. I showed them and taught them what is called an accomplishment model, and they booked their week backwards. They control their schedule. There’s no what’s called star method, which is sales reps running all over this state trying to get to the next appointment, and they dominated. Once they realize this is the path, they were making money instantly, everybody was happy, nobody was grumpy, and they were doing 4.75 appointments a weekend. I don’t care what industry you’re in, when you’re in front of five live heartbeats a week, you’re selling something every weekend. Every sales rep succeeded.
The key here is that death was brought into that branch probably by 1 or 2 people and the cancer spreads quickly to all those sales reps that the company sucked the product. It wasn’t real. It was death via a virus. The general manager realized other branches were kicking butt. He knew there was a problem with those people. That general manager, Steve, he had proof other offices were fine. You guys have proof. Other companies are succeeding in your same space. If that is the case, I am here to state there’s a strong likelihood that you or your company has a little bit of cancer and there are some ways to work with us.
As you look into your company, does it need some weeding and feeding? How many of yesterday studs, leaders or managers have risen and then promoted to their level of incompetence? Can they rise higher, or is it obvious to everyone that they’ve climbed the ladder as high as it’s going to go? Worse, is it obvious to many that many people’s ladders are leaning on the wrong building? Meaning, they shouldn’t be there at all. What is the solution? This is one of the toughest to fix due to two reasons. Number one, loyalty. Many people blocking current growth got the company to where it is. Removing them is both emotionally and politically painful. My personality is a people pleaser. I have the most difficult time letting people go. As a matter of fact in many years, I’ve only let 1 or 2 people go. I unfortunately am such a wimp. I have to have Kerri do it or somebody else that works for us. It’s painful for me.
Number two, Jim Collins wrote, at one time was considered the greatest business book of all time, Good to Great. In that book, he wrote that the most successful companies of our day hire great talent and they keep that talent until growth opens up a position for them. Personally, this is my MO. This is why I attribute our explosive growth. This is why we blasted past 80 employees. This is why we have 35 full time employees overseas. This is why if we spot somebody that is phenomenal and we don’t even have a spot for them, but they’re a gem of genius, we grab them and we don’t let go. I will admit this has caused us mighty challenges burning through revenue to keep great people around. A few years ago, I almost got myself into a jam because there were certain people I was not letting go. I hope that makes some sense.
The fix here is fairly obvious, it’s just seldom chosen. The answer to growth lies in only one area. To grow, we must find the areas or companies in our industry that are growing. Find out who is behind the growth, who’s pulling the levers. Somehow bring that IP, that intellectual property, that brain trust, that knowledge base of people already doing the growing elsewhere and get out of their way. Get them over here and then get out of their way. Jeff Hoffman, the Cofounder of Priceline, he’s phenomenal at teaching this principle. Get the best people and then get out of their stinking way and remove obstacles. Let them do what they do.
For smaller companies, this can be done via independent contractors. For larger companies, this involves hiring a head-hunting agency. You tell them who you’re going after, let that head-hunting agency use the proper methodologies to bring those people over. No matter how it’s done, the fact is, it is the who that are out there growing things. Growth has never been about what technique, what marketing method, how is it done? Growth has always been about who is doing it? Who is behind the levers moving those marketing concepts? There are people growing in your industry, go find them.
I didn’t say, “There are companies growing.” I said, “There are people growing in your industry.” Find them, take them to coffee and see if there’s a partnership there. My only concern for pause is that if you know you have cancer inside your company or at least a virus, it’s not yet total cancer, and then you go out and bring in these studs thinking, “Ken, great idea. Let’s go get these studs.” If you bring these studs in and you start growing, in all likelihood, the virus and the cancer that is there is going to spread to them because cancer spreads. Be strong and get out the scalpel, cut the cancer during and while bringing in the new brain trust of growth. Please, don’t bring in these studs and pollute them. I hope this helps.