Shawn Casemore is an expert on sales growth, who works directly with companies and their leaders for breakthrough strategies in performance. Shawn has worked with Fortune 500 companies such as CN Rail, Tim Horton’s, and Pepsi Co, however he invests the majority of his time working with some of the fastest growing and dynamic mid-market companies, including Bellwyck Packaging, Gerson and Gerson Incorporated and Saje Natural Wellness. Shawn is well-versed to offer insights on how to build winning strategies that make you stand out from the competition. He shared his findings and expertise in the below article.
When it comes to growing a business, striking a balance between quality and growth is key.
Consider these as being on an apothecary scale.
On the one side, there are all of the activities related to growth for your business—all of the investments in time and energy that lead to new sales and acquiring new customers. Marketing, sales, acquisition, expansion, hiring and capital investment are some examples.
On the other side are the activities that lead to satisfying and retaining your newly acquired customers. These include product development, quality assurance, processes, policies, training etc.
In my day-to-day dealings with CEOs and executives, I find there is typically a tendency for an organization to lean heavily towards one side of the scale or the other.
This tendency is heavily influenced by the behaviour (and desires) of leadership.
I’ve worked with the president of a manufacturing company, for example, who was heavily focused on the details behind every process, convinced that the company would grow if the right KPIs were in place and managed closely.
Alternatively, I’ve worked with the owner of a service-based company, who ran the business literally from his email inbox, constantly calling and reaching out to customers, prospects and colleagues. His approach to the business was all about relationships. Metrics, KPIs be damned.
Both were similar in revenue. Both were growing at a similar pace, albeit obviously serving a different segment of the market with different offerings.
Which approach is the right approach? In my experience, it’s about striking a balance.
Navel gazing and overanalyzing while expecting growth means a long, slow crawl to the top.
Alternatively, running at full speed by the seat of your pants without any sort of structure or consideration of quality isn’t going to help you retain customers.
We need to consider some key variables that influence our scale and then manage the influence each of these variables has at any one time.
Howard Schultz led Starbucks through rapid growth in the early 1990s; however, as he has done during the company’s 47-year history, he is once again looking to scale back growth by identifying and shuttering under-performing stores. His focus is to ensure the stores that remain open are profitable. Howard has a history of focusing on balancing the scale for Starbucks. He shifts between focusing on hypergrowth for Starbucks (typically during boom times) and then slowing down and assessing the quality of their business, stores, customer experience etc., during slower times.
To balance the scale for your company, answer the following questions to first determine your customers’ preferences and then identify your natural leadership tendencies. I call this identifying your “Organizational DNA.”
Identifying Your Organizational DNA:
- What are the predominant demands of our key customers?
- Would your key customers prefer speed over quality (“both” is not an option here)?
- What would the impact be on our customers if either speed or quality was diminished?
- What is the predominant behaviour I display in leading the business? (Am I predominantly task-focused or people-focused? Would I choose speed and growth over quality, or vice versa?)
- What are the predominant behaviours (and therefore influence) of my senior leadership team?
Armed with this information, you can quickly see how the scale is weighted for your company.
The real question then becomes, what are your goals for the business?
If you want to stabilize and avoid growth, then obviously you’ll want to focus more on the quality side of the scale, which will minimize customer issues and ensure you retain the business you have.
Alternatively, if you want to grow your business, you’ll want to develop an approach to growth that takes into account your Organizational DNA.
For example, you may need to forcibly shift your organization’s natural tendency to focus heavily on quality, to more of a people focus with processes, automation and investment that achieve your objectives.
By identifying your Organizational DNA, you are in the best position to influence the leadership and direction of the organization, whether it be to grow or to sustain your current position. Reflect upon the questions above and ask yourself: What is our DNA? Does it support the direction I’d like to take the company?
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