Matthew McCarthyOps and PM expertise to help you get things done

PM and Operations Coach and Expert, practicing Transformation consultant, co-founder All about helping you get things done.

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In the book "Loonshots", author Safi Bahcall indicates that looming barriers to innovation include:
Organization size
Reward systems

In his theory, organizations above a certain size threshold (roughly about 150 people, not very big) shift in a couple of key ways that tend to put the brakes on innovation.

First, they'll notice a change in motivation. Larger companies tend to have a more hierarchical structure, leading to more opportunities for promotion. As a result, employees' thinking shifts away from the "mission" of the job and company, and toward how to get promoted, get the bigger bonus, and so on. As a part of this, the influence of, and opportunity for, organizational politics increases as well.

Second, the hierarchical structure creates a few barriers in itself - more red tape, more silos, and more job specialization. Employees become more narrow in their focus and spend more productive time working on organizational requirements than on their jobs, much less on ways to innovate within their job, organization, or industry.

With smaller organizations, innovation is not guaranteed - it must become a part of the collective culture or focus of the organization, and time and latitude for innovative and creative thinking must be accommodated (but not mandated or fenced in, like the mythical 15% of the workweek allocated by certain tech companies). However, with less time spent focusing on politics, red tape, getting promoted, and more time "cross-pollinating" with others in the organization, there is far more opportunity and success in innovative thinking.

I'd love to discuss this further with you by phone - please don't hesitate to reach out.

It may just be how I'm interpreting your statements and question, but I'm sensing two different approaches are on your mind. Getting clarity around your end goal will help you attain that goal.

You indicate you are a consultant with a methodology that works. At the same time, you indicate that the identified need is often a missing layer between business owner/CEO and front-line sales - the missing layer is a type of sales leader/manager.

If you wish to fill the missing layer, that sounds like you are wanting to become a VP of Sales or some similar role. In that case, you would approach your problem as you would approach a job hunt. (The "how" for this fills innumerable books, articles, etc.)

If, on the other hand, you want to focus on consulting, AND you are still focused on the missing layer, you'll have to figure out some way for that layer to be filled. Are you giving the CEO new skills, helping the CEO identify someone who can fill that role, or some other approach? By the way, if you assume you can partially fill that hole as a part-time leader, I'd suggest re-thinking it. Leadership, including sales leadership, requires a wholesale commitment to the team. So, someone still has to fill that role.

To continue on that consulting path, though, you've actually pinpointed your answers. Referrals and relationships are ideal for a consulting firm of one. Beyond that, since you're a sales consultant, be your primary client. Use your methodology to stir interest, create a pipeline, convert to clients, etc.

One last thought. The needle in a stack of needles is an apt description. There is a HUGE number of small/medium businesses out there without a sales leader. Do some market segmentation for yourself. Industry, geography, company size, etc. to make the haystack smaller. You'll find there are a lot of needles hidden in that smaller haystack...

Two answers: 1) Ask prospects or customers if they have any idea if their marketing dollars are working, or where their marketing spend is getting the most bang for the buck.

2) If you have case studies from other customers you've helped, use those to show examples where your solution has worked for those customers. "Customer X, saw x% increase in sales directly from digital channels, while spending y% less on an annual basis. All expenses included, their ROI is z% annually.

FWIW, I disagree with the answers telling you to qualify better. Customers who are receptive to adding analytics have probably already done so, and for them, analytics are a commodity where they may seek an incrementally-better solution or incrementally-lower price.

That leaves you with customers who don't understand the value or may be resistant. You will win some, lose some, but those you are able to win over will see huge value from introducing analytics to their marketing (and possibly other areas of their business - operations, customer service, etc.).

I would be glad to take time for a call to discuss this further - please reach out.

About me: I am a business consultant, coach, and project leader working with individuals and businesses - from early stage and mom-and-pop to global firms. I specialize in digital transformation, process, business case development, and project leadership.

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