Did you smash your numbers in 2018? Maybe just scraped budget? Perhaps you missed by a mile and just want the year to be over?! Whatever the outcome I’d like to offer three simple ideas based on 30 years of owning a target – when I enjoyed (and sometimes) endured all three of these states!
When I was Regional Managing Director of RBS Invoice Finance in Scotland I remember clearly the years when double digit growth expectations seemed like a mountain to climb at target allocation time. Once the initial reaction subsided we quickly made sure that each member of the team embarked on developing a clear plan of action.
When I think of my best business developers they displayed determination and commitment to the growth target in a pragmatic way. The strongest always had an additional edge with their own ambitious aspirational figure in mind. Their example set them apart in forward planning, high levels of new appointment activity and keen focus on customer satisfaction. My job was to unlock that sense of belief and ignite activity across the regional business. The most successful results were achieved when the members of the business development team each had a good variety of businesses on their prospects lists and an in depth understanding of when those businesses really needed our flexible funding. Top class communication resulted in highly engaged new customer relationships. In those years 25 – 30% more customers won.
I’d recommend 3 simple themes to focus on.
1. Be clear on the inputs.
The performances I’m most proud of were achieved when every member of the team had a clear understanding of their role in achieving the goal. They owned it, they knew their numbers they revelled in the success.
As a leader I was determined to make it easy for the teams to contribute to the plan for growth by being crystal clear on what success looks like. That transforms a plan into an easy to follow set of actions. Execution and delivery and the sheer satisfaction of beating milestones becomes infectious and so the momentum builds.
2. Be highly visible and provide great feedback.
My recommendation is don’t avoid the difficult performance conversations. I always encourage business owners I work with to focus on ensuring the right people are in the right roles. I recommend they take prompt action to rectify situations that shouldn’t be ignored.
When I speak to business leaders where there are shortfalls in the performance of their teams I’m determined to get them questioning how impactful their coaching feedback is. Does it Identify where the gaps in skills levels are? More importantly are they committed to support, observe and truly add value to performance?
3. Be sure to have great bench strength.
Are you always alert to enticing great people to be interested in joining your team? How many speculative coffee conversations do you have in the diary every month?Too often sales growth and great results are hampered by gaps in the team. How long does it take to replace your star sales person? Is the team one which attracts great people to be part of it?
Are you the sort of leader who has that power of attraction where staff want to give more discretionary effort every day? Those staff become the ambassadors to attract new recruits too.
I admire business leaders who surround themselves with diverse experience and challenging opinions to stretch themselves and the team to grow in every sense each day.
Following my last article where I posed the question on how we might significantly turn up the dial to achieve growth to a point where 100,000 businesses use an Invoice Finance product I was recommended a great new book called Blitzscaling.
The book explores the drivers of very rapid sustainable business growth that lets companies quickly reach a massive scale and consequently requires an outsized ambition. My hope for 2019 is that with new entrants and creative product development we will find a way to emulate that explosive growth ambition in the Invoice Finance industry.