Reading the business section of London’s Times in a reception Monday, I came across Lara Morgan (click pic to enlarge).
She apparently built Pacific Direct, supplying hotels with branded bathroom disposables. Started on her own with nothing but a fax machine, it was sold in 2008 17 years on with now 467 employees for £20m.
Salespeople do tend to enjoy an entrepreneurial tale.
As someone who has happily set up and grown beautifully small companies myself, I tend to treat such yarns with slight cynicism.
I have been schooled in the analysis that many a flourishing start-up is down not to the specific, supposedly newly-coined unique, approach of the garrulous founder, but rather often plain sheer luck.
Whilst I do not truly believe in luck alone, much of their subsequent gazillion post-exit preachings are laced with ego-driven recollections amounting to little more than web-farmed motivational sloganeering.
Over the weekend I even saw a video from anti-educationalists promoting Branson and Gates as reasons why you should quit school as early as you can. Really.
Still, Ms Morgan’s management philosophy was retold in six bullets. Headlined here;
- Set clear KPIs
- Know what makes everyone tick
- Always communicate
- Celebrate progress and outstanding performance
- Let people grow with the business
- Be firm but fair
Again, these can hardly be revelations to anyone having spent any time (in b-school or) managing. Yet there is some value in knowing that these are the top priorities from her successful experience.
As those who know me may attest, the one item sorely missing for me from this list is ‘place process over outcome’.
In this case, KPI definition would then be re-shaped, and the whole consequent framework too.
The notion that I did particularly applaud is “celebrate progress”.
I can’t begin to tell you the number of sales rah-rahs I’ve sat through where champagne is handed out based solely on sales alone.
Whilst there is nothing inherently wrong with this, the fact ‘progress’ is so often overlooked is criminal.
We sellers as a species are rubbish at tracking the small measures that get us closer to consistently claiming the big prize.
Hourly. Daily. Weekly. Monthly. Quarterly. Annually.
If you’re not doing so, make it happen. And Sales will I promise, soar.