By Sid Chadwick
“Southern California home sales crash, a warning sign to the nation….In the past, California, one of the largest housing markets in the nation, has been a predictor for the rest of the country.”…….Diana Olick, CNBC
I left the Peer Group Meetings, asking, “What’s really happening in these organizations….isn’t the memory of 2008-2009-2010…. still fresh…..?”
Over two-different --- 3-day meetings in the last 30 days, I observed:
- Two members had asked us to conduct Major Customer Surveys --- over the last 9 months. Each gave testimony that they’d received over a million dollars, each --- of additional business opportunities. Yet, they confessed, on questioning, “Our ROI and follow-up results --- are -- too early to count.”
- Four organizations confessed that they’d put-off hiring a V.P. of Sales/Sales Manager, and were “covering that position’s responsibilities” ---with other personnel. (I had asked, “How do you do that…how’s that working for you….?”)
- One organization had --- “temporarily reassigned” --- their V.P. of Sales & Marketing --- to implement a major MIS System. He’d been working on it for over 9 months, and had at least another 6 months to go. There was no answer to, “Who sustains and manages that MIS system, after it’s up and running?” This was an organization with 10% profitability, y-t-d, and “flat sales”--- compared to last year.
- One President confessed that he recognized that a Major Customer Survey would generate significant, additional --- immediate opportunities, but he didn’t want to go forward, because, as he put-it, “I’ll have to be the one to follow-up on the opportunities that are generated.”
- Five attendees admitted that they knew --- Major Account Reviews --- were powerful business generators, but they just didn’t have the time to conduct them on a scheduled basis. And of those organizations who were conducting a few Major Account Reviews, no one was issuing “Written Reports of the Major Account Review” --- to their major customer --- (Note: Those Review Reports --- tend to improve the value of the Review to the customer’s organization --- at least 2X…what would be gained, otherwise…..)
- Sales Education Meetings weren’t viewed as necessarily important, had even been “skipped”…with some frequency (summer vacations..!). Yet customers continued to indicate ---- through Customer Survey feedback --- that Sales Calls needed to be more frequent, and contain more substantive information --- for the buyer’s organization.
- Only a rare organization was conducting written Performance Reviews, for Continuous Improvement, and retention of key personnel.
“Almost” --- all these organizations --- are having “banner years” --- in terms of revenue growth, and profitability/
And….. there’s always “more information at each organization”….that I don’t have, to parly explain why these significant opportunities…. are needing to be put…..on-hold………….
One of my biases is that, when we make a good profit, when revenues grow…..we too often tend to think, “We’re really good….!”
But ask the great championship team coaches, the Nick Sabines, and the Bill Belichicks of our generation….. who tend to tell us,
“When you think you’re good, your best days are probably behind you.” (Remember --- the “Curse of being on the cover of Sports Illustrated…?”)
I’ve observed that significant “inflection points”….. in economic direction…. seem to promptly follow --- new major tops --- in economic activity we experience.
“Feels like it’s time to go get the tool box”….I think, by all the signs, we’re going to need it.
“On other end of spectrum, a Peer Group member in N. New Jersey is in midst of largest capital investment in his company’s history. Three local competitors have individually asked —- if they could merge with his company....!”
“…our early radar technology.…recognized….the planes were 137 miles out, just east of due north. The unknown swarm was inbound, closing at two miles a minute over the shimmering blue of the vacant sea……It was just past 7 in the morning on December 7, 1941……Their success at Pearl Harbor was due partly to astounding good luck, but also to American complacency……..” …………..The Smithsonian Magazine
“I never tell my client anything they don’t already know. My job is to make them see what they have been dismissing as incidental evidence is actually crucial evidence”.....Peter Drucker