I recently attended a housewarming party of a former colleague. She introduced me to one of her guests as the guy under whose leadership our company had achieved in 16 years 13 times double digit sales growth. That businessman was eager to know how we achieved that extraordinary growth performance.
So I described to him the key success factors (and I thought I share them with you too):
- Develop a mindset for strong growth.
You and your leadership team must have an optimistic mindset and build up confidence throughout your team and your company. Keep negativity out of people’s heads. A lot of leaders think only about the negative aspects, like e.g. the poor state of the economy, why they cannot achieve (high) sales growth. However, I always told our employees: “In every economy, no matter whether it is booming or shrinking, there are companies that will win market share and companies that will lose market share. We will make sure that we are always among the ones that are winning market share.”
- Develop a culture for extraordinary sales growth.
In our company, DDG (=double digit growth) was a magic word that was positively occupied in our employees’ mind. The whole company was aligned around it. Already during the recruitment process, we made sure that we selected people who have a positive attitude, love challenges, and can handle pressure. During the budget talks with our business unit leaders, everybody knew that we start our discussion at DDG level, i.e. a minimum sales growth of 10 %. We often went for stretch goals being aware that even if you miss a stretch goal, you typically still achieve high growth. That took the fear of failure away from our people. The most popular quote in our company was “Shoot for the moon! Even if you miss, you will land among the stars!” (by Les Brown). And whenever we achieved high sales growth, we made sure that we celebrated together, and that we rewarded our people generously. Whenever we reached a particularly high sales performance, we went with a l l our employees on an overseas trip. That was already the first step for again great sales growth in the consecutive year.
- Develop an inspiring vision.
A prerequisite for sustainable extraordinary sales growth is an inspiring vision that aims to create value not only for your shareholders, but for all stakeholders (i.e. also for employees, customers, and the society). Employees are looking to find meaning and purpose at work. Only if you share the benefits of the extraordinary sales performance among all your stakeholders, your employees will be willing to go for your ambitious sales growth goals.