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SOME REAL-LIFE CLIENTS’ EXPERIENCES

(names withheld to protect their privacy and desire for confidentiality)

How we helped 20 document management dealers increase their annual sales by 20% in a market that was growing by 5%.

We did a pilot program for the U.S. distribution division of a multi-national maker of FAX and document management hardware. We worked with 20 of their dealers, in various locations across the country. The industry was growing at an annual rate of 5%, as were all 20 dealers. Their sales closing rates after making the short list of potential vendors were almost identical – around 25%.

There was unanimous agreement among all the dealers. If they could somehow double their growth rate from 5% to 10% they would be ecstatic.

We looked at their culture, specifically the roles and relationships between their sales and their service/tech support groups, vis-à-vis their customer interactions. We looked at their values – particularly around teamwork (one of their core values) and compared that definition to how they acted with each other and with their prospects.

We helped them make some cultural changes regarding the roles, interactions and sales tactics in presentations between tech support people and sales reps. We helped them reshape their presentations, included a tech person on every presentation, taught the teams some new presentation techniques. We helped them understand and strengthen the connection between their culture, their values and their sales tactics.

The results: The Increased average annual increase in sales for all 20 dealers as a result of all of the above was 20%.  Ecstasy times 2.

Reduced product development time from 3 years to 12 months for a major manufacturer and distributor of high-end kitchen appliances

A major manufacturer and distributor of high-end kitchen appliances (ovens, cook-tops, etc.) had a vision – to revolutionize the premium kitchen appliance business. But their new product development process – it took them 3 years to develop a new product – made it impossible for them to innovate at a revolutionary pace.

Their goal: Reduce their product development time from 3 years to 18 months.

Their product development team was competent and committed. Their process required using several outside vendors that played key roles in making core elements of their ovens. All of them also did work for the company’s competitors. Trust – or the lack thereof – was a major glitch in the smooth flow of the development process. Information leaks over the years had everyone pointing fingers at everyone else and no one admitting responsibility. Changing suppliers was not an option.

Culture, values, values-driven leadership and strategy were all woven into improving trust, making and keeping commitments (that strengthened trust), requiring that key people take responsibility for their parts – and holding them accountable for results were all elements of the changes. In addition, we helped the designers change their approach and interactions with key vendors by making the vendors part of the manufacturing design process rather than designing parts internally and putting out Requests For Quotes from several vendors. That built trust and strengthened commitments, a vital part of their cultural adaptation to the need for speed.

We worked with the team for almost a year.

The result: Product development time was reduced from 3 years to 12 months. The goal was 18 months. Revolutionizing the industry moved from fantasy to reality.

We helped increase earnings by 59% in one year for a $3 billion regional bank in the Southeast. Their goal was 18%.

A regional bank in the Southeast, with $3 billion in assets wanted to aggressively grow. Most of their loans were to farmers and agricultural suppliers. They had a diversified portfolio of bank products and services but most of their customers seemed either disinterested or unaware of the existence of those products/services.

The bank had prepared formal strategic plans for the previous 5 years. Each year they developed 19 strategic objectives. Each year they had achieved none of their stated goals. Yet, their earnings remained acceptable at 1.1% of total assets (at that time, anything in excess of 1.0% was considered acceptable). But the CEO remained frustrated at their inability to achieve strategic objectives and to grow more aggressively.

Their goal: To increase their earnings to 1.3% of assets (an 18% increase over the current year).

We looked most closely at their culture and their strategies. They were not aligned. Through our innovative strategic planning process and some coaching in culturally adapting their entire population of bank tellers and loan officers (about 1,300 people) we helped them institute two important changes.

We reduced their number of strategic objectives from 19 down to 3. One objective was in the sales and marketing area, one in operations and one in IT. The initial response from all of their senior executives (except for the CEO, who was delighted) was passionate skepticism.

We offered guidance in the training and reorientation of their tellers to make their customers aware of other products and services – cross-selling. They had previously simply handled the transaction at the counter, acted politely and that was it. The tellers loved their new roles – it made their jobs more interesting.

Their earnings in the following year were 1.75% of assets (on a slightly higher amount of assets) – a record they never considered remotely possible. Shortly thereafter they received an unsolicited offer to sell, from a larger bank. It was for an amount previously seen as astronomical. The shareholders considered it for about 5 seconds before they accepted it.