Client Story from Partners in Leadership: GETTING EVERYONE ON PLAN…
The Result: 33% Compounded Growth
The Story Axis Dental, a division of Kerr Corporation, a Danaher company, is a company that supplies dental equipment exclusively to other distributors who, in turn, sell the products directly to dental offices. For six years, AXIS had consistently produced 33 percent compounded growth. They implemented the Self Track™ Training and the Executive Coaching Process throughout their organization. Their success made everyone feel comfortable, especially the sales force, which had grown accustomed to receiving generous commission checks. Then, almost without warning, AXIS experienced a year when sales growth plummeted to nearly zero. Perry Lowe, Axis’ President, felt as though his high-performing racing machine had unexpectedly broken down during the middle of the race and needed a quick fix. The annual business meeting that year was unusually short and not so sweet; for the first time AXIS recognized only one person in the field for performing at 100 percent of plan. The organization reeled in shock. To Perry’s credit, however, he did not despair but seized this opportunity as a wake-up call to make some major changes, and to make them quickly.
How Perry solved his problem and got everyone on plan.
Initially, Perry’s analysis attributed the decline in performance to the sales representatives’ failure to pay enough attention to the sell-through of the product to the ultimate end user, the dental offices. However, as Perry drilled down further, he found deeper causes. Yes, the representatives were not properly focused on end-user results, but whose fault was that? Somehow, the management team had failed to get the message about the importance of sell-through to everyone along the Expectations Chain®. Too many people were unaligned and out of the loop. Perry acknowledged to us, “At some point, I simply quit paying attention to what my management team really needed in order to focus on sell-through, and when that happened, things began to crash really fast.”
Working with the field force, Perry redirected the focus beyond distributor invoices to ultimate end-user orders. He so skillfully formed and communicated this Key Expectation that he easily got everyone aligned with it. Still, Perry knew that in order to effect real change as quickly as he needed it to happen, he would need to keep a close eye on the execution of this initiative. As he began his inspection, he was pleased to see the sales group walking the talk, but he was displeased to find that the rest of the organization continued to concentrate on the front end of the pipeline.
As he delved into this further to isolate the cause of the misplaced focus, he found that the problem stemmed, in part, from the report AXIS used to update progress for the company. Specifically, every department had to wait thirty days to get the report and the feedback they needed before they could decide what, if any, changes to make in order to hit plan. When, after thirty days, they received the vital numbers, it was too late for any of the departments to react in a way that could affect the outcome. Perry recognized that he needed to get the entire organization inspecting progress on a real-time basis and in such a manner that his people could react to the data and take the required additional steps needed to achieve their expected sales growth.
Thinking outside of the box, AXIS Dental asked their distributor to submit weekly reports summarizing the numbers coming through the pipeline all the way down to the end users, thereby allowing them to see dental offices actually placing orders. At first, this request did not sit well with the distributor because they usually provided this information only to the “biggest of the big,” a status to which AXIS aspired but had not yet reached. However, after some compelling negotiations, AXIS persuaded the distributor to comply with their request. Soon, all the departments were receiving the right information every week. They now knew their distributors’ order quantities and were equipped to respond quickly when they saw orders falling below expectations. Consistent reviews of these new reports opened up the floodgates of dialogue, and e-mail chatter expanded exponentially. Everyone began to look for success, and when they failed to detect it, they began asking what else they could do to achieve it. Interestingly, before this new report came into play, people could not name their ultimate customers. Now, armed with that knowledge, they took action to help pull demand through the pipeline.
By using the principles in the Accountability Sequence® Training, Perry propelled the AXIS field force well on their way to regaining their former glory, with over half the field force soon achieving 100 percent of plan. AXIS put itself back on track to capture the market growth the company desired. Perhaps, even more important, Perry was no longer the only one looking to see if his expectations were being fulfilled; he now had all eyes in the company focused on sales throughout the pipeline. The AXIS example is but one of many we could share that convincingly demonstrates the importance of utilizing the principles and practices associated with the Accountability Sequence® presented in the Others Track™ Training to help those you depend upon and hold accountable achieve the results you need to get.
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