After Thanksgiving – Family for Thought

wood text cube family

As we have all wrapped up our 2017 Thanksgiving Holiday we have said thanks and have expressed appreciation many times.  We’ve connected with family both near and far.  Maybe, reached out to someone not spoken to in a while.  We smiled a little more, maybe laughed and cried some too.  Possibly, we had a few awkward situations, a couple of fights and a word or two that we wish we had back.

Okay, so did I just describe your Thanksgiving Day or a day at the office?  In my many years, I have seen it as both on a regular basis.  Every day the teams we work with are our family just as much as all of our relatives.  You might be shaking your head and thinking I’m not sure I agree.  Well, let’s take a look.

If you think about the 24 hours in the day and how they break down for most it looks about like this.  At least 8+ hours at work, add in the time to get there and all else that goes with our time around work and you can see pretty quickly that the largest chunk of our time awake is at work around our co-workers.  We are scattered at home and rarely have evenings where we get home from our work and are able to sit down with the whole family all night.  Then, before you know it, the night has caught up with us and bedtime calls.  We wake up and we do it all over again.

Based on that rough look at an average day you can quickly see how our co-workers see more of us than our families to a certain degree.  So, why would we not think that that full range of emotions that we experience and share with our families would not be the same at work?  The reality is they are the same, but often we fail as leaders and managers to recognize it.  With the amount of time we spend with our teams and clients, relationships are built, strengthened and also disrupted daily.

A large part of the education time we spend with our clients at The Growth Factory is around how to communicate well with the teams they manage as well as their customers.  In all of my years of managing and leading teams, I’ve recognized that the need for this is obvious.  We can say the wrong thing or misinterpret an email with our work relationships just the same as we do with family.  The consequences will look and feel familiar as well.   Making sure to always take the time and recognize the good performance and saying thank you for the effort put forth on a regular basis is a nice start.  If that isn’t done well or consistently enough it can feel a bit superficial and like a substitute for not being more connected year-round.  We all can suffer from this as we know we are busy and have so many things going on in both parts of our lives.

The point of this blog, written the day after Thanksgiving, is to challenge yourself to try to make a conscious effort with both of the families in our lives to be a little more aware each day of how we, as leaders, are caring for both of these groups that in the end mean so much to us.  It takes thought and effort to make a difference, but in the end, the payback here is well worth it.  I think in this case the return on investment is clear, but sometimes in our day to day lives, we quickly lose sight of it.  Work every day to be a better leader/family member and show everyone the right way to build that strong productive and caring family.

Good luck and good growth to all.


The Heartbeat of Your Business

man drawing heart and chart heartbeat

We all say it more and more this time of the year.  As the end of the year approaches, we  become more and more goal driven. Suddenly, our teams have an amped up awareness of numbers, goals and what it will take to hit certain levels because there’s usually a bonus tied to it.  This extra focus and increase in performance feel good around the business, but it is usually short-lived.  When the calendar turns and the numbers are counted focus and energy seem to take a bit of a break and a deep breath from the hard end of the year push.  So, what if you could harness that year-end push and keep it more consistent all the time.

The focus of all businesses is to have the best return on the investment put into it.  Human capital is one of the largest assets that we have to lead and encourage to get the best overall results.  If you look at the performance of a team you see a spike in activity right before any due date.  If you only have one true measurement point a year you only have one period of truly heightened performance for your business or your teams.

We like to use a formal quarterly accountability/measurement because it helps to harness those emotional activity peaks and smooths them out to keep the total year at a higher performance level.  Instead of a peak at year-end, you have four accountability points that drive individuals and teams to have their work complete and reported on.  All of this leads to better results and your team/business is thinking about driving or finding innovative ways to accomplish their goals.  This can be done through quarterly companywide meetings to show each teams goal and their results.  When you set up this type of accountability/recognition you will be shocked by how your teams respond.  No one likes to have their numbers shown and see a big miss to a goal.  Self-motivation now is driving all the time to do everything possible to stay on goal and receive the positive recognition at the quarterly celebrations you now have set up for your business.

We would love to see you challenge your business in this way to track the improvement you can achieve.  It is important to always look for and try to maximize our human nature to respond to deadlines.  This will deliver measurable improvement but you have to stay creative with it as anything can become tired and worn out.  That is your challenge going forward.  If you need ideas give us a call as we have a lot of different approaches you can use to keep things fresh and your teams motivated.

Good luck and wishing you growth and success.


What Drives Your Sales & How Do You Get More?

The growth of sales

Do you know what your process looks like that drives sales?   Are there certain actions and activities that yield meetings and sales?  A lot of businesses do not know the answer to this question.  Great businesses do.  They know that there is a number for each of their sales staff to accomplish day in and out that will yield results that the company has set as their targets.

If you believe sales just happen I encourage you to finish reading this and in the end, see if you still feel the same. By the time we are done you will be defining your process. There is a process behind everything with very, very rare exceptions.  So, let’s take a look at it from a real business perspective.  Every proactive sale starts with a customer contact.  A contact can be a phone call, in-person visit or an email for a few examples. Those then tend to lead to a meeting and that meeting may involve others, etc.  For some businesses, the sale happens at this meeting and for others, there is a proposal step back at the office and then another meeting to present this plan to the customer again.  At this meeting, the “yes” or the “no” take place on the deal.

If we track these events over time, say for 6 months, we can start to determine our sales effectiveness process or SEP.  This is a term we use at The Growth Factory when we help you build out your metrics to show at each step in the process the number(s) needed to drive the next result.  SEP workshops are incredibly beneficial for not only you as an owner or sales leader, but for your team to really see what behavior they must increase to keep the sales funnel producing.  We start at your closed sales and work back.  For example, it might look like this:

  1. Closed Sale to get here took…
  2. 4 proposal meetings with a customer to get here took…
  3. 20 prospect meetings to get those took…
  4. 100 initial contacts with a customer.

In this example, we can start to draw out some metrics. For every 100 initial contacts, we can create a closed sale. So, if our business needs 5 closed sales a week we need to make sure we are having 500 contacts taking place within that cycle timeline you determined.  If you really look at your business I know you will see the same types of flow to your sales.  Through a SEP session, you can learn the number of sales contacts that have to happen to yield your goals for the year.  You will then know if you have the right staffing and tools available to make this happen as well.  The first step is tracking your data through your own system or a CRM system.  Take the time to do this if you have not and we will guarantee you your sales will grow if you increase the right behavior that is the start to your SEP (Sales Effectiveness Process).

Wishing you Growth and Great Selling


Are You Your Own Worst Enemy?

businessman with the weight

When it comes to selling our need to be busy and active will often convince us that following our sales process is not necessary.  When we have a process, and we utilize it, it is important to work the whole process and not jump in and out or skip around it.  A process by definition is a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.  In the case of selling the end is a sale.  Just by thinking about the definition it should be clear why following a process will yield success.  We avoid things that seem like hard work.  By nature, most people if left to their own choices will choose the easy way out.  Taking shortcuts and skipping steps in our minds is a smart thing to do and by doing so we undermine our process and success.

The sales process for most businesses follows steps that look something like this.

  1. Identify prospect
  2. Qualify prospect
  3. Meet to gain understanding and discover pain
  4. Build a plan to address the pain
  5. Meet to reveal the plan and attempt to close the sale
  6. Rework the plan to match customer changes and close sale
  7. Recalibrate after the sale moves forward to remain in sync and grow account

So, if we follow the above process there is not a step in there that is more important than another.  If you leave any one step out or do not fully complete one you will have a reduced chance of success.  It is hard to ask great questions of your customer to find their pain if you have not spent the time in steps 1 and 2 to find out all you can about the account and make sure it meets the model for your business to have success.  Looking at the process we achieve success by bringing the client along with us we ease their fears by providing proof of our ability to handle an account like theirs.  We do this through client testimonials or other hands-on knowledge of our capabilities.  When we pitch our solution and attempt the close we match the client’s employees at the buying table.  We want to show and demonstrate the value that we see in them and our team that is ready to stand alongside and work with them to find success. So, if they have the owner present our owner will be there as well.  We want to have Subject Matter Experts (SME) present in areas like IT or Digital Marketing to show our strengths or reach in a specific area.

If we do the steps in our process we will find success awaits at the end.  If your business does not have a formal sales process maybe it should.  Don’t be your own worst enemy. The Growth Factory is here to support you in building out your process or just having a review of your current process and maybe freshening up your team on how to sell successfully.  Let us know how we can help you grow your businesses success.


Why Did The Growth Stop?

Stagnation or Growth Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Clouds and Sky.

“Why did my business stop growing?”  This question comes in many forms.  It often presents itself in times of challenge and all out panic.  Right out of the gate many companies can grow when they serve a niche market or have solved a valuable problem with a widget.  That initial growth comes easy with an overwhelming market demand.  But, often the business or the CEO/Owner of the business is fooled into thinking they’re leading the growth.  They tend to think that their sales team is the best in the market or their sales leadership is top notch and they believe it will always be this way.   They quote how much growth they achieved in the early years as a badge of honor and something that will continue on forever.  The unknown success is a curse or a nail in the coffin unless the business takes the time to understand the why behind their business that’s really making the customers turn to them.  As Author Simon Sinek states, “Customers don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.

Different businesses will run for varying lengths of time before hitting the wall or plateau as some will call it.  Those that hit it sooner are always easier to try and get back on course as behaviors are not as deeply set.  Other businesses can go for 15 – 20+ years before the problems hit and they’re convinced of their knowledge so they refuse to look inward for the opportunity to fix their lack of growth.  As a leader, this is where having openness and vulnerability will make all the difference in the world.  But wait, how many leaders/owners really operate that way.  Yes, really very few are willing to listen openly to the challenges and input from their management team, employees and especially their customers.  They will go back to what’s comfortable and think it’s innovative because they want it to be.  The business is not listening to the market or the customer they’re listening to themselves and will continue to try to grow by repeating past strategies and behaviors.

The one cure to this challenge is regular meetings where management is brought together and spends time redefining core values, core focus, and market needs.  By having a continuous trusting and open dialogue the business will have the opportunity to evolve to the market and customer feedback.  As the business owner, we can apply filters to what we hear and convince ourselves that our current direction will still work until it is too late and we are too far behind the market to catch up.

Don’t let this happen to you and your business.  The Entrepreneurial Operating System builds in the quarterly checks and forces the business to stay in tune to the market and customer’s changing demands.  Companies that fully implement EOS have grown by an average of 18% per year while eliminating a lot of common frustrations.  Let EOS build Traction in your business.  The Growth Factory is here to support your business at any step along this path of continuous growth.

Wishing you success and growth


Quit Chasing Squirrels!

Focus Concept Clipped Cards and Lights

Everything in business moves faster and happens easier when everyone is moving in the same direction or following the same plan.  One of the most critical things we can do as business leaders are to make sure we align core values throughout the organization.  After core values are set and we are following them we must stick with the core focus of the business.  When a business has this focus, there is tremendous growth driven by a clarity of the vision seen by all.

Like all things, this is easier said than done.  For business leaders, owners and entrepreneurs there is always that fever for more growth and doing more.  Most of the time it becomes satisfied by going outside of your core strengths.  Businesses believe that since we do so well with “A” we should go ahead and enter market “Z”.  This is the downfall for many as they try to chase hot markets or expand well beyond their core focus.  Once the errors of those ways come to surface resources have been squandered and key customers have been lost, maybe even lost employees.  While it may seem easy to take on other business opportunities the result is moving outside of your businesses sweet spot.  When this happens and the product/service is not performing, more resources are thrown at it because we never think it’s not the right product. We tend to think that we just must be doing something wrong.  Then the dust settles and it’s realized that the product/service is not a fit and it has failed.  Ultimately, your business has paid the price through loss of various resources as we discussed above.

It is critical to determine your real core values and then take those to create your core focus.  By doing this the clarity of your core values will bring into focus what you are looking for.  That core focus should come from answering just a few simple questions.  At the Growth Factory, we help clients find that core focus by walking them down the discovery path of what truly makes their business unique and help them to build on it. We work with you to find the “WHY” behind your business.

Once you have this direction set it becomes really easy to ignore all those pesky squirrels that want to take you off course to chase them somewhere you don’t need to go.  Let your competition chase them while you grow by delivering the best product/service to the right customers.

Wishing you great growth!!


Speed Up Growth & Gain Traction

Traction Gaining Ground Momentum Speedometer Measure Progress

Typically, I spend time in my blogs providing helpful advice and information to make you a better leader or manager.  Today will be no different but it is in the form of a product we offer at The Growth Factory.  Many people do not know what the EOS process means for your business.  We are professional EOS implementers so I’d like to spend my time today filling in some of the questions you might have about EOS.  The book “Traction” by Gino Wickman is the best resource to help you understand the key components of the EOS system.

As a small business owner, myself, it often feels as if there are a hundred different things I need to focus on.  It’s easy to see how “Traction” applies not only to business owner’s but also to sales leaders.  You could argue (correctly) that running a sales organization is not much different from running a company.

Every great company needs an Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS).  And every EOS consists of 6 core areas of focus:


These areas are not new to most of us, but tying them together into a cohesive operating plan is what we most struggle with.  Here, I will briefly take a deeper dive into the 6 areas.

EOS lays out what’s called a Vision Traction Organizer (V/TO) to help simplify the process.  A sample V/TO is provided in the book.  We provide complete user guides to the EOS process that contain all the tools in the system.

It will be important to create your team’s vision.  You’ll need to get it out of the thought process and down on paper to make it easier to track and to work with.

There are 8 core questions that must be asked and answered and it provides an action plan for creating and communicating the vision.


EOS will introduce you to the People analyzer tool.  It will match your core values to those you are hiring or those you might be promoting or moving within the organization.

We have all heard about the importance of having the right people on the bus.  This builds on that concept with helping to identify those people more accurately.

The “right person” is determined by whether they share the company’s core values.
The “right seat” has to do with the “Accountability Chart”.

The accountability chart (an improved version of the org chart) forces you to view your organization in a different way and to address people issues that have possibly been holding you back for years.


We need data in order to measure the success of our efforts.  Nowhere is this truer than in sales.  But the best leaders, rely on just a handful of numbers to manage their business.  Whether it’s five numbers or fifteen, they should all be monitored using a scorecard.  A scorecard keeps the measurement process from becoming overwhelming and it also ensures the process is meaningful.

As you learn and move deeper into the system you will learn there are 3 rules of thumb for effective scorecards.  I will save those for another time or call us and we will get rolling on your numbers and metrics.

As you’ll see in the sample scorecard provided in the book, each number is assigned to one person who is ultimately responsible for the results.


Often the thing that drains energy from people and organizations is unresolved issues. Traction outlines a process that helps leadership teams quickly dig to the root of an issue, discuss solutions, and then decide.

It is the decision that’s most important.  Indecisiveness it seems can have a more negative impact on an organization than making wrong decisions.  To help you tackle issues quickly and effectively EOS uses IDS or identify, discuss and solve to break issues down and solve them effectively.

Issues will exist at all levels of your business.  The main key is prioritizing them and then knocking them out one by one.


In the sales profession, the process is a hot topic.  The more clearly you can define and standardize on a sales process, the theory goes, the more you can replicate success.  So, this chapter specifically, should resonate with sales leaders.

A typical organization runs by 6-10 core processes.  How they work together is the system.  This chapter helps you systemize your core processes if they are not already in that state.  Once there, you can refine them, simplify them, and make them consistent throughout your organization.


Most leaders know that bringing discipline and accountability to an organization will make people a little uncomfortable. You don’t have any other option if you want to build a great company. The good news is that short-term discomfort will give way to long-term satisfaction and traction.

Traction comes to life through 2 things that are core to this process.  Prioritizing the critical things that need to be accomplished (goals/objectives called rocks) and meeting regularly to hold yourself and team accountable for getting these things done.  This regular meeting “pulse” is itself a key to the success of the plan.

Traction contains all the tools and components that make up the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS). If you can master the individual elements of EOS you’ll have the traction you need to realize the vision and growth for your company.

Stop Talking & Start Leading

Stop Talking Indicates Warning Sign And Blather

Too many managers forget this simple rule.  We have 2 ears and one mouth for a good reason. We should use them that away.  Managers have a tendency to feel like they have to be talking in order to show they’re in charge or lead of the situation.  We often fail to remember that communication is a 2-way street.  In the case of leadership, it should probably be 2 lanes coming at us and one lane going with us.

If we could learn to listen 67% of the time and talk 33% we would be miles ahead of most managers in 2017.  Statistics show that 65% of managers talk up to 75% of the time and during that other 25% they may be thinking of what to say next and still not even listening to their team.  Today I would like to focus on just one technique to help even this out a bit for all of us.

When meeting with an individual or team start to think about the number of questions you ask versus the number of statements you make.  We should be shooting for almost 3 questions for every 1 statement.  I know you are saying “But Tim, how do I show my importance and overall command over the situation if I am asking questions and not making statements?”  To that, I say you must unlearn that misconception of leadership. This technique is the exact right place for you to start.

So, we will be asking the 5 “W’s” – who, what, where, why and when questions.  This alone is a game changer.  When your responses go from “You should have done…” or “Next time that happens make sure you…”  and you start saying “What do you think you need to do” or “Based on the information you just shared, what do you think our next step should be” amazing things start happening.  Your teams’ confidence increases almost immediately and they will show more independence.  This, in turn, saves you time by not having to be bothered with every little thing.  You should get used to that because I know how much we love to knock out those rapid-fire answers to those softball questions that should never have made it to us in the first place.

You will move from talker to leader and your team will thank you as they grow and believe in themselves more and more with every new opportunity they manage.  I hope this helps you grow and your business to do the same.

Wishing you that growth and success.


A Little “Professional” Me Time

Time to learn text on black board

How often do we think of or hear people say “I need a little me time”?  The reason this is a concept is that we know intuitively we need down time to recharge our batteries in our personal lives.  With the pressures of family, work, schools, and activities it seems like we are all pulled in a hundred different directions.  Every now and then we need to spend some time on ourselves.  This could be reading a book, taking a vacation, an outdoor venture or maybe a spa day.  All of these things help us to relax and to improve ourselves in some way on a personal level.

Let’s look at this from a different perspective.  What about our business self?  What areas of improvement does this part of us need?  How about a little “professional me time”?

We all need to take time on a regular basis to keep strengthening our professional skills.  Lifelong learning is something that all of us know we need to consider, but very few of us embrace.  This can be reading, taking a class or a webinar, listening to a speaker or mentoring someone.  It can be simple or complex, that doesn’t really matter.  What does matter is that you do something to keep yourself at the top of your game.  Of course, you can coast along and think that you’re doing everything you can by working your job but that won’t elevate you or your business.  Real professional development requires effort and time.  Like any machine, if left alone for too long we’ll start to have problems and loose the performance we once had.  It takes planning and regular tune-ups to keep us at the top of our game.

So, the next time you’re getting ready to “binge watch” the latest Netflix pick of the month or take a road trip and listen to the same old music – think about this.  Maybe it would be an even better idea to break out the Kindle or a good old book and work on your “professional” self-development.  There are many great books out there on leadership, team building, coaching, etc..  If you need ideas give me a shout.  Long trips are perfect opportunities to listen to books on CD or podcast.  There are so many good options out there to help us improve on many different skills.

The Growth Factory is here to help with any development needs that you or your team may have.  Give us a call or send me an email – and we can work with you to get batteries recharged or give a total tune up.  The main thing is to start looking at your professional development as a part of the total “business” you and to understand it’s a machine that will need attention to have you at your best every day.

Wishing you Growth!


Sugar Coating + Criticism = Trouble

White sugar cubes in a boat

Over time, it happens to all of us.  As a new manager/leader there comes a point when you must deliver that first bit of criticism or coaching that you know will not be what the employee wants to hear.  Often, out of fear of how to deal with that conversation we head down the sugar-coating path in an effort to soften the effects it has on that employee.  On the other hand, there could be an experienced manager who comes into a similar situation and decides to not be so direct.  After all, what can it hurt?

So what, you might ask.  What is the harm in trying not to be quite so direct?  Well, it boils down to a couple of simple things.

  1. Mixed messaging – “Am I doing it right or wrong?”
  2. Loss of respect from your team – “I wish my manager would just tell me where I stand.”

When necessary, give honest, genuine and direct criticism.  It’s not personal, it’s business and there are expectations.  So be efficient with the conversation and avoid taking the long road to explaining where they’re lacking.  That long road is where the sugar coaters live.  It is in those moments that we’re not being direct and clearly honest.  We start looking for ways to soften what we should say.  In the end, if that’s what we’ve done, we have failed our employee.  They will respond better to an honest message than they will if they’re unsure about what it is, exactly, that you are saying to them.  No one likes to hear when they are not doing something up to standard.  However, you are doing them a big disservice when you don’t help them to correct and avoid the same mistake from reoccurring.

So, lay off of the sugar, let the words do the heavy lifting in your conversations and your team will thank you.

Wishing you Growth!!