Is your sales narrative a fairytale??

I have just finished up a busy stretch in my schedule and have had some time to collect my thoughts.  For the last five weeks I have been spending considerable time, formally and informally, with close to 100 MSP / IT service providers.  These companies range in size from a handful of employees to over a hundred.  As I reflect back on all the separate interactions I had over that time, it occurred to me that the companies who are consistently successful from a profit and growth perspective have strong operations.  A short aside: I use profit and growth as success criteria because they are absolute and easy to measure; however, they are not the goals of successful companies, but they are a natural by-product of their goals.  The companies which are consistently the most successful – think world class – have strong operations AND a strong sales process.  These companies have consistent profitability and a higher growth trajectory.   What I don’t see is companies which have figured out the sales process and not the operational process, succeeding with any consistency.  These companies tend to have lumpy profitability and growth (kind words, usually no profit or growth).  They also appear to be the least fun to run.

When companies have a good sales process and weak operations, Customers have a difficult time discerning which companies have solid operations from those which don’t during the sales process.  What has happened in the industry over the last handful of years is that any company can learn what to say in the sales process and win deals; however, if they don’t have strong operations to back that up they have a difficult time delivering services.  This frustrates everyone, causes Customer churn, and gives the entire industry a bad reputation.

Unlike selling a car or other widget, selling services is selling a promise to do something in the future.  In the case of IT services, this means that the work begins once the sale is consummated.  When selling a widget, the sales process IS the work and the Customer’s expectations are instantly gratified.  When selling a service, the expectations are set in the sales process, BUT are delivered after the deal is done.

The moral of this story is that good operations are the common denominator to consistently good results.

Knowing how to articulate the narrative

Does NOT Equal

Consistently executing the narrative.

If your results aren’t where you want them, look in the operational mirror.  It all starts here.