Think Big Act Small

Denver-Based Sales Leadership Development Available Nationwide

Posted: April 24, 2014

We live in a world where we are always looking for the next best thing or idea. Don’t get me wrong. Innovation is great and necessary. However, is it possible that the next best thing is—well, an old idea or “thing” executed well?  

Case in point. Below, please find a newsletter that I wrote in 2007. Note how many of the ideas shared seven years ago are still relevant today. Enjoy the roll back.  

Jason Jennings is the author of the national bestseller, ‘Think Big. Act Small.’ He and his research team screened more than 100,000 American companies to find nine that rarely end up on magazine covers. These under-the-radar companies increased revenues and profits by 10 percent or more for ten consecutive years. (You might recognize a few names:  Sonic, Cabela’s and PetCo.)  

Here are just a few of the common denominators found in all of these high performing companies.  

Cause:

Great leaders and companies have a cause that has nothing to do with money. Jennings is quick to emphasize that a cause is not a mission statement or a vision statement. It is why you do what you really do. A cause provides purpose, passion and momentum.  

Fast forward to 2014. Simon Sinek, leadership expert, talks about the power of WHY in his powerful TED talk. It has over 16 million views. He emphasizes that employees and prospects care more about why your company does something than what and how you do it.    

QUESTION: Is this a new idea or an old idea that needs to be executed? Do your prospects and customers know why you do what you do?  

Culture:

In an increasing commoditized world, competitors can quickly copy your ideas, products and services. What’s really hard to copy is your corporate culture. The leaders at these nine organizations possess a fundamental set of truths and laws by which he or she leads his/her life. As a result, it becomes the basis of reasoning and action for the company.  If someone fits the culture, they’re in.  If they don’t fit the culture, they’re out---fast. 

Fast forward to 2014. People and culture still make a difference. Zappos, an on-line shoe company grew to 1 billion in revenues in ten years and then sold to Amazon. Tony Hsieh, founder, gives credit for such growth because of the culture. They are passionate about hiring the right people to fit the culture. In fact, Zappos will write a new employee a check for quitting if the new hire doesn’t think the company is a good fit for them! 

QUESTION: Is this a new idea or an old idea that needs to be executed? How would you rate your culture? Does your sales culture make you money or cost you money?  

Keep Your Hands Dirty

These leaders are humble and keep their ‘hands dirty’ by making sure they are involved in day-to-day interaction with customers. Jim Cabela, co-chairman of Cabela’s, spends each morning reading through a stack of papers containing customer comments and/or complaints from the previous day. (How many chairmen of multi billion-dollar firms do you think spend several hours each day reviewing client comments/complaints?) When asked about this daily activity, Jim Cabela’s response was,“What could be more important than listening and responding to customers and doing whatever else you have to do to make and keep them happy?” 

Fast forward to 2014. When is the last time your CFO, CMO, COO, Director of Customer Service, Director of Operations traveled with a salesperson on a sales call? It’s kind of common sense. How can executives be making strategic decisions for the company if they are not even talking to your prospects or clients? The office seat is always more comfortable and the car seat is always more profitable.    

QUESTION: Is this a new idea or an old idea that needs to be executed? Are your executive’s hands clean or dirty?  

Keep looking for ways to innovate and create. And in the process, keep executing “old principles” of success. Get clear on your why, create a great culture and keep your hands dirty.