Value and Motivate People
Business success usually comes down to people.
David Mattson, Tom Schodorf & Bart Fanelli’s new book, The Cadence of Success: How to Create a Winning Sales Culture is all about building organizations that value and motivate people. After reading the book, I reached out to them to learn more. They argue that it’s not products or technology, but people that are the cornerstone of a great company.
“Buckle up, and know that it’s going to be a tremendous amount of work, but embrace it.” -Tory Burch
For those who haven’t read the book, what is the Success Cadence?
FANELLI: The Success Cadence is an operational rhythm, led by the sales team, that capitalizes on what it takes to be in hypergrowth mode every single day you are in business. As leaders, we have so many different things to focus on at once, so many different silos within an organization to oversee, so many competing priorities: marketing priorities, product development priorities, production priorities, and of course sales priorities. When you implement the Success Cadence, you step back and ask, well, who should be leading the dance? Who should be setting the organizational cadence, on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly timeframe? And if you’re serious about growth, you realize the answer has to be sales. Sales drives revenue within any organization, but most of the time the sales team is handcuffed, and performing less than optimally, because of restraints put on them from priorities that arise elsewhere in the organization. If you have ever been tasked with selling a product that you know doesn’t fit the customers’ needs, you know what I’m talking about here. So the book is basically a playbook, a rescue plan for leaders who realize that what they have to do to get and sustain hockey stick growth is collaborate closely and strategically with the sales team on a regular basis.
“I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you learn.” -Marissa Mayer
Start a Momentum Revolution
What is the “momentum revolution,” and where does it start?
MATTSON: Most of the time, we just have to get the ball rolling. Think about a flywheel. It is always harder to start the wheel. But as we push, as we get more and more momentum, it becomes easier and easier. And it is not just one person, it is many people pushing. The same thing holds true in a Success Cadence. We want to make sure that we are pushing forward. Management needs to start the momentum revolution. Management needs to make sure that the momentum revolution continues; however, once we’re past the typical reaction to change, then the momentum will be carried forward by your organization, because you have people on staff who are both willing and able. You have people on your team who have the skill and the desire to take action that supports hockey stick growth, and that is what matters.
“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” -Steve Jobs
Talk a little bit about the calendar. How important is it and how can you use it to build a Success Cadence?
SCHODORF: A rapid-growth-oriented company sets forth a special kind of calendar that funnels all critical activities into an operating cadence document, one that the rest of the company must follow in a predictable way. The point here is to make sure that you are doing the needed activities and behaviors on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, when they need to get done. With so many things happening in today’s environment, it is easy to get distracted, and it is easy to prioritize doing the things that are most comfortable to us. Because there are so many different things that are eating away at our attention and our resources throughout the course of the day, the calendar helps us to be sure we are setting the right priorities at the individual level, at the team level, and at the level of the organization. It keeps us focused on the specific things we need to do, and when we need to do them, to be sure we fulfill our commitments and deliver our results, regardless of whether they’re comfortable or uncomfortable to us.
MATTSON: It’s worth noticing that the highest producing salespeople use a calendar system like this to be sure they are following a recipe for success. The same thing holds true with a business leader. There’s a certain protocol that gets followed, there’s a certain list of things that we make sure get done every single time they show up on the calendar, regardless of how busy we are. That’s the way we deliver a consistent output. A calendar also helps with onboarding, because there’s a certain formula that you need to follow to make sure that you have the right people working for you. To establish an environment of accountability, you need to give people a list of things that they’re supposed to be doing and by when, and in addition to specifying the dates, you always want to give them a clear idea of what success looks like. If you do the onboarding right, you can get a pretty good idea of whether this person is willing and able within a two-week period of time and by weeding out those who don’t fit, you have the best of the best on your team. You also have set up a culture of learning and a culture of accountability, each of which is really important.
“I wouldn’t ask anyone to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.” -Indra Nooyi
The Pain Points of Slow Growth
Would you share just a few pain points of a slow growth culture?
FANELLI: A very common one is that there are too many silos, so you don’t have a unified operating cadence, and everyone is kind of doing their own thing. The mentality is, “I’m focused on my own lane, and if my team shines, we all shine,” and that’s just not accurate. You need to make sure that you’re operating from a playbook that supports the organization’s mission. Another pain point is entitlement. This is the mindset that says, basically, “The rules are for somebody else, and I don’t have to do that because I’m a top producer.” You’re looking for people who are willing and able, and the entitlement disease creates unwilling people. That’s a cancer on the organization. And yet another pain point is imagining that your product is so amazing that it will solve all your problems. Guess what? The product alone is not going to save your company. In a crowded marketplace, people can and do ignore a great product when it doesn’t instantly connect in a compelling way to some specific business problem that they’re facing. You have to connect the dots for people. It’s not enough that your tech people think the product is wonderful. What does the buyer who’s short on time, and way behind on his to-do list, think of it? What’s the emotionally compelling reason for him to replace an existing supplier? If you assume it’s because your product is just so awe-inspiring that everyone is going to stop what they’re doing and ask to learn more about it, you may run into problems.
“Taking initiative pays off. It is hard to visualize someone as a leader if she is always waiting to be told what to do.” -Sheryl Sandberg
Tie Corporate Goals into Personal Goals
You talk about system changes, but also about personal changes, and about the importance of improving people’s lives. I’d love for you to share a little more about this philosophy.
MATTSON: Great leaders know the following: you need to tie corporate goals into personal goals, because people will always work harder for themselves and their families than they will for their employer. Once you realize that, you realize that an individual salesperson is not going to hit a given quota because you as the leader directed them to do that, but because with the commissions that they would make as a result of hitting that quota, they can put more money into a wedding fund or into a college fund or another house, or whatever goal they have. So understanding the personal side is super important.
For more information, see The Cadence of Success: How to Create a Winning Sales Culture.