What Can’t Change that Must Change?

If you doubled the size of your sales team, would your sales double?

By MARK RIFFEY for the Flathead Beacon

One of the most difficult things to deal with in a business is change. We’ve always done things a certain way. We’re used to this way. Change upsets people, not because they don’t agree with the changes needed, but simply because it IS a change.

If you look at what it will take for your business to double capacity, you could probably get by with doubling the amount of staff and equipment you have now to double what you do.

It won’t be as easy to change by 10 times. If you doubled the size of your sales team, would your sales double?  What if the new salespeople were better than the team you have now? Not to say that your existing team is ineffective, but that the new members of the team have a better network, handle leads more effectively and close more business.

What if they could sell 10 times what your current team sells? What would have to change in your business to deliver what the new team sold?

More than likely, creating the ability to produce 10 times what you currently produce – without a loss of quality – would require structural changes to production. You can probably identify some of these changes today, but there may be changes required that are not even on your radar.

SalesSomeone who manages production today in a business 10 or 20 times the size of yours would likely come to the table with ideas and strategies that you and your team have not considered. This doesn’t mean that you and your team are unskilled, but the things that run a business 10-20 times the size of yours are not the same as those you use.

To grow to 10-20 times your size, you have to start operating like the business is already that size. These changes are difficult to make overnight, but they must come. In many cases, the change that is the most difficult to make is the change that will face the most resistance and that is the hardest to make from the perspective of your existing team.

That’s when you start talking about changing the one thing that can’t change. In many cases, the “It can’t change” paradigm is only perceived that way because the thing that simply can’t change is viewed through the lens of the past, rather than from the perspective of where the business is going.

If you seek to grow your business by a substantial scale, take home more money, reward your team with better pay, and offer them the chance to take the career steps they want to take without leaving for another company – you must identify the changes you need from the perspective of where you want to be.

Look at the team members who have told you they want to grow, do better work, learn new things and make themselves more valuable to the company… in many cases, if you don’t grow your company, they will have to leave for a bigger firm to pursue those opportunities. They will have to find a company that has already tackled and overcome the resistance, investment and effort to make the changes that might scare you (or them) the most.  

Years ago, I was at Electronic Data Systems (EDS) when General Motors bought them. In what seemed like days, EDS went from 15,000 employees to 45,000. To take on the challenges GM placed in front of it, while keeping and growing the existing facilities management business, EDS had to completely change how they recruited, trained, deployed and managed.

You might not be going from 15,000 to 45,000, but the change to go from $500K a year in sales to $5MM is just as substantial. Like EDS, you will have to change how you do many things, and find a way to do so without negatively impacting the quality and pace of delivery.

To do this, you will have to consider things that previously didn’t make sense.  Things that might make people wonder about their future with you. It’s your job to make sure that they understand how they fit into this change and how it benefits them as well as the company.

Ultimately, you must change as well, and that’s the hardest change of all.