Are you able to flex your company muscles? Or are is your company getting sand kicked in it’s face? If you find yourself pushed around by customers, without a strong plan for growth, easily slowed by the smallest obstacles, you need to read this post.
Some companies are powerful and seemingly unstoppable. Others are unpredictable, slow to adapt and, well, weak. These weak companies have a number of signs that you can spot. Whether you are the CEO, a board member or a Junior Manager in training.
Maybe you are an active job seeker trying to decide if a company is right for you.
You can look for these signs in your company:
1. A passive CEO
Whether it’s your company or one you are watching, you want an engaged CEO. The problem here is the CEO that manages the company via email, conference call and by using messengers. Easiest sign to look for? They rarely leave their office. All meetings happen in there, food is brought in there. And, depending on the company’s size, the bathroom is in there. While there’s a lot that can be done from the desktop or dashboard these days, you can’t really measure the energy of a business, offer praise or understand who the best people are when you are locked in a bunker.
2. Arms length customer relationships
Let’s be honest, it’s easier to hang out “at the HQ” and wait for the sales team to provide their quarterly customer updates. Everyone on the HQ end gets to criticize the sales team for their handling of the recent product launch. But the truth is that customers have somewhat complicated needs. While we’d like to say it’s simply about product quality, fair pricing and quick response, there’s a lot more to the relationship. Especially if you are the sales person trying to serve two masters – the company and their customer. But this is true for a small business as well (if HQ and customers hang out in the same place – like a dry cleaners). You can build great loyalty through customer service that engages people.
3. Product lines or services that are no longer relevant
It’s easy to hold on to products for too long. And to offer a service well beyond its value. We do it because of habit, loyalty or emotional attachment. And sometimes because one or two customers demand it. But if you took the time for a strategic pause you might find that you don’t need them anymore. And you might find that other adjacent antiquities are attached (software programs or inventories) that can also be cut free. You do this through a rationalization program. A project that “rationalizes” every product line or service and forces it through filters to determine whether it can be justified. Often a company cut lines, expense and services with a much smaller loss of revenue than feared.
4. Bloated and expensive inventories (product companies)
Of course you may need to be in accounting, marketing or warehousing to notice these problems, but they are significant. While they can pop in otherwise strong organizations, they are strongly evident in the weaker ones. These are symptoms of unsuccessful product launches, poor purchasing practices and inconsistent badly informed forecasting systems. These inventories suck up cash and take up valuable space. Just sitting there.
5. A sales team without focus or training
I meet them all the time. Nice people with or without sales experience struggling to sell. But that’s their job. The lack of focus is obvious when you ask (yes, even big companies) “What is an ideal customer? And what are you doing today to identify and find/engage with more of the them?” And it’s not just about a lack of focus and training. Weak organizations leave their sales team out in the cold. Without the proper training, a clear focus for establishing new business and often, not much to sell (see #3 above). And some companies lack something as simple as a business or brand promise (i.e. a clear statement to differentiate their company from everyone else in the market).
Of course there are other signs of weakness. We could talk about cash flow, a disengaged board of directors, poor or abusive culture and others. If you want to look for a more complete list, you can order a marketing audit. In it you’ll find all sorts of potential areas to mark for improvement.
What signs do you look for in a weak company or organization? Does your company show any of these signs?
Thanks chrisbulle for the photo via Flickr