Thursday, 12 August 2010

Is Your Business Really “Sales” Ready?

So – you have your product, your founder has tested the sales temperature, you’ve landed funding so it's all hands on deck to hire that crack sales team.... or is it?

One of the things I have noticed in early stage land of late is that some businesses are suddenly finding their sales pipeline is not what they thought it was and ill thought out strategies are being tested to breaking point in the current climate.

Evidence perhaps that too many people have rushed into employing a sales team before completely understanding their sales strategy. And also evidence that the sales strategy has not kept current in a rapidly changing business climate.

Common mistakes I see:

Unclear sales strategy – usually borne from a founder being too close to the product and failing to look up and around the market during launch phase.

They misread the early sales made by passionate, driven founders as “evidence of real market demand”.

They fail to take account of objective external views and miss key longer term niches while focussing on the big, low hanging fruit deals.

They fail to articulate what they are actually selling - confused customers do not buy! I see many brilliant ‘techies’ with sound products that actually fail to reach market maturity because they simply can’t sit the other side of the ball and see it from a “customer” perspective and sell it on that basis.

They can’t effectively present product or service features and benefits – what you think is your product's strengths actually isn’t necessarily what your customers think.

They over complicate entering the market – there’s more than one way to crack a nut...

What they are selling actually might not be fully complete or their pricing model is not fit for purpose and does not match the clients’ needs as a business.

They fail to plan long and short term sales pipelines – how to balance keeping the investors happy whilst building long-term value in the business is an art form!

And ... worst of all they rush their hiring and end up with the wrong people ... and that’s where we come in.

Average cost of a failed hire = 3 x salary at the last count ... makes my fees look better value than ever!

By Debby Lloyd,
Managing Director, EcoSearch

Friday, 6 August 2010

Hire, Hire, Hire – Managing Rapid Growth

EcoSearch build the management and technical teams for businesses in renewable energy, Cleantech & Carbon Management – we do that for smallco and corporates. I love this part of my job – I love the role I play in building those successful companies (not that we recruiters are recognized sometimes for the value we bring in the long term – ours can be a very transactional role but where we are able to work in a true partnership capacity it can make for a very powerful result).

We’ve all had that training haven’t we about “man management”, but how often do we stop to think about the application of all that knowledge we soak up over the years and its long term application impact in our respective businesses?

I’ve learned, seen and personally experienced that it is far more difficult to successfully grow your team rapidly in a smallco than in a corporate organisation. Managing to blend, mould and nurture a new team is a bit like making fine wine, only sometimes you are forced to rush it and sometimes the grapes you use aren’t quite what you thought they were (If I were a wine buff now I’d use a suitable comparison here).

Investors these days are very good at pressing the HIRE HIRE HIRE button but don’t always listen to the CEO who knows his business inside out and knows where his existing team is challenged. Mind you, some CEOs are very guilty of going on talent acquisition spending sprees with disastrous consequences, overspent budgets, imploding teams, dysfunctional divisions, poor hires, lowering quality of output.

The good CEO takes the time to monitor the “temperature” and watch the development of his people as he goes about adding. This is a bit of a dark art that many people fail at. Sometimes you have to take your foot off the gas and allow things to settle. I always thought “forming, norming, storming” theories were a bit of a management cliché but they are in fact critical milestones on which to manage. Recognising them is key. It is easy to fall into the trap of putting it down to culture and personality when actually the root cause is usually communication, and clear roles, responsibilities and accountabilities. These all get horribly blurred when a team expands rapidly. A good CEO recognises this and helps his team understand this and work through it.

And how rewarding is it when you see that team gel into a finely tuned machine that delivers uplift in production and sales?

Hmm - now here’s a thought: What if your recruiter's fee was calculated on business milestones achieved...? I wonder what impact that would have on your hiring quality.

By Debby Lloyd
Managing Director, EcoSearch

Monday, 2 August 2010

Green & Renewable Energy Events List – August & September 2010

The events list is back!

If we have missed anything, please let us know. You can leave a comment on this post or even send us a tweet.

August 2010

Green Drinks – Reading
3rd August 2010
RISC Global Cafe, Reading, UK

Sustainability Now
On demand until 10th August 2010
Follow @sustainnow on Twitter

Green Drinks – London
10th August 2010
The Glasshouse Stores, Soho, London

September 2010

Green Mondays - North West
6th September 2010
Manchester, UK
Follow @greenmondaynews on Twitter

Green Mondays – Midlands
6th September 2010
Nottingham, UK
Follow @greenmondaynews on Twitter

Green Mondays – London
6th September 2010
London, UK
Follow @greenmondaynews on Twitter

The Energy Event
8th & 9th September 2010
Birmingham, UK
Follow @energyevent on Twitter

Wind Power Monthly - Cost-effective, best-practice O&M strategies
9th & 10th September 2010
Hamburg, Germany
Follow @WPMevents on Twitter

World Green Roof Congress
15th & 16th September 2010
London, UK

Low Carbon South West: Sustainable Cities - Building The Future
17th September 2010
Bath, UK

21st – 23rd September 2010
Bath, UK

HUSUM Wind Energy
21st – 25th September 2010
Husum, Germany

Women in Cleantech: Exploring Cleantech Policy
22nd September 2010
London, UK

If you are organising an event coming up soon and would like it included in future lists - don't hesitate to let us know about it.

The EcoSearch Team