The CEO is stuck. Which way out?

 Feeling stuck. Feeling tired at the end of the day. Feeling frustrated more easily and more often. This is how one of my new clients described her personal situation during our first project meeting. This CEO was stuck and could not get enough head space to find a way out of it. 

I was hired to help her develop business development processes and build a sales team. There is no point trying to build business development processes when the CEO is not performing at a high level.

As the business grew during late 2016 and into 2017 the business became more complicated. Clients were asking for changes to the standard contracts. The person she recruited for a customer service role needed more time to become effective than anticipated. The salesperson was performance was mediocre at best with low levels of prospecting activity and demanding more time from the CEO to create proposals and close deals.

My client is naturally a person who is very strategic, goal focused, makes fast decisions and may appear a bit brash and aloof to other people. She thrived as an entrepreneur focused on strategy and growth. Now she was withering.

Conduct a personal audit of your daily activities. I suggest using your calendar software and applying categories and/or colours to denote different activity types. You may need to change your current calendar set up to conduct your audit. I would recommend a minimum of one month to conduct your audit.

My client and I worked out the following categories for her audit. She uses Outlook so these categories were created and colour coded.

·        Sales activity

·        Existing customers and responding to requests

·        Internal meetings

·        Contracts and negotiation

·        Networking

·        Marketing

·        Business Admin

The month long audit delivered some staggering insights.

My client was getting more involved in work that demanded attention to detail, meetings and adherence to processes.  She was being forced to move away from her natural behavioural style and adopting attributes that are not natural. She was becoming less and less productive and using more of her energy.

We proved what we both knew but the audit was a great exercise to view her in action as well as provide some quantifiable we can use to measure the change we were introducing to her and her business.

Where did we start? We assessed the people already in the business with behavioural profiles and personal interviews. As it turned out, the customer service person was behaviourally well suited to the role and its responsibilities. The sales person was borderline. This person was incredibly easy to get along with and great at creating and maintaining relationships. This sales person was going to have real difficulty closing deals.

We established a training routine for the customer service person that included 1:1 meetings with my client. We brought in a trainer who set up workflows that are aligned with the productivity tools used in the business; OneNote, OneDrive, Outlook and a CRM.

After some consideration it was decided the sales person would be retained. This person’s natural competencies are being applied to developing relationships with new potential clients and deepening relationships with existing clients. We created a methodology and process for this work to be undertaken and aligned this with some configuration of the CRM. This work paid huge dividends in productivity and we have a very happy and very successful relationship builder.

This has not solved the sales role requirements fully. For the next 3-5 months, my client will be introduced to prospects late in the sales cycle and execute the close and negotiate the agreements. We have set a revenue goal, at which point we will recruit a sales person with the needed behavioural competencies to close deals and work in partnership with the existing person working on client relationships.  

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