Business Practices: The Collaboration Perspective

By Paden Hughes

sales drivenThe Scenario:

You’re the owner of a landscaping company that has specialized in residential work for the past five years. What would you do if a potential client was interested in hiring you to landscape a chain of commercial properties, but you currently don’t have the processes, bandwidth, or personnel to immediately take on the job?

Would you:

a) Inform the potential client that you don’t service commercial properties, but once you restructure your operations to support that project you’ll be in contact to see if they still need a landscaper.


b) Put together a reasonable quote and go for it.

It comes down to a choice between which to invest in first: operations or sales. Many variables impact this decision, including past experiences, potential revenue of the project, personality style, and long term goals.

So what’s more important, being operations savvy or sales driven?

Operations Perspective

Some feel strongly that their success, specifically the quality of their work and reputation, is tied directly to first establishing the processes, structures, and human capital to manage sales. These types of leaders spend time and energy planning out how to handle sales before they even start selling.

The upside of this is that they pre-plan the execution of sales before they are under the gun. The downside of this is that they may spend so much time devising an operational strategy that they don’t progress (see the “Law of Diminishing Returns”); they’re trying to perfect a system they have never actually used.

Sales Perspective

Others feel that their success is directly tied to first growing sales and revenue, then addressing operational processes. This type of leader tends to jump at most opportunities that arise, and pull the operations team together to meet the needs of the project.

The upside of this mindset is the leader’s ability to be open to new opportunities and not hold the business back from progressing, believing that taking on different types of projects will challenge and sharpen the operations team to create better processes. The downside is the possibility of over committing and under delivering.

The Collaboration Perspective

We believe in being a sales driven organization, and we believe this can be accomplished without sacrificing quality. In 20 years of consulting, we’ve observed that the more time leaders spend worrying about their systems and processes, the more they feel stressed about not hitting their sales goals. Certainly there are seasons when controlled growth trumps fast growth, but when operations become the heartbeat of a business it can be paralyzing.

A true sales driven organization is powerful. When sales goals are set, strategies are determined and implemented, and the progress against those goals is measured, sales happen. When sales become the focus, the team figures out a way to make operations support it, and they’ll do it in a manner reflective of the vision, mission, and values the leadership has established, maintaining the desired image and quality of the organization.

The Business Lesson Blog Series

With nearly 20 years in consulting, we’ve found there are a number of very teachable and universal business lessons that transcend industry and business age. We tell these stories and give this advice freely to encourage small business owners to think strategically and respond to classic business conundrums. We welcome your comments and questions, and if you have a topic idea for a future blog please share it with us!

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