When Growing Too Fast Becomes a Concern

I was sitting in a meeting one day when the topic of business growth came up. OK, so it always comes up in meetings I have with clients and colleagues because we all want to grow, don’t we?

This conversation was a little different and eventually changed the way we provide our Virtual Sales Manager Service by simply asking the question…what will you do if your growth dreams do come true?

This is an interesting question that usually is met with answers of additional benefits for employees and vacations and early retirement for business owners. But what happens when you look a little deeper? How will you maintain growth? Will you be able to provide the services that you could when you were smaller?

This scenario reminded me of a friend of mine who started a food delivery business back in the mid-90’s. They would take orders from clients and provide food from 5 different restaurants. That way if mom and dad wanted sushi and little Jr. wanted pizza, everyone was happy. The problem came when they did such a good job promoting the business and they had more dinner orders than they could possibly deliver. So much for a good sales and operations plan!

The owner of the company we posed this question to had a slightly different issue. Operationally, they had processes in place that made it easier for them to grow. The problem was on the sales side. When he looked at growth, he knew that his salespeople would eventually get too busy so he would have to hire someone else and cut the territory of the current salesperson so the new guy had opportunities. By the time we had this conversation, he had 8 salespeople selling 8 completely different ways. He was acting as the sales manager as well as the president. They were making great money, but were headed for a fall. Nobody was happy.

Most companies we work with are strong companies who are growing quickly, but prior to this conversation, most of the companies we worked with were just establishing a sales force beyond one or two people. What we saw with this company was that sometimes a company can grow too quickly by “throwing money” at a problem and really creating a larger problem by hiring a bunch of salespeople, but having no real sales structure. This holds true with companies with 2 sales people, as well as 200.

After this conversation, the client hired us to work as their sales manager, first by developing a solid sales structure which fit with the corporate philosophy, then by making sure that all of the “people on the bus” were right for the company philosophy. Some people, including the #2 salesperson, did not fit the mold and eventually were replaced. But, at the end of the day, the company had a strong, cohesive sales team all moving in the same direction. The following year, in a recession, they beat their best year by 25%.


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