Unicorn post

Why cradle to grave will take you to the grave

Note that the title is not “cradle to grave salespeople“.


Because they don't exist.

Maybe, in the first generation of your third generation business life,  cradle to grave salespeople used to roam the earth, gaily cavorting alongside unicorns.

In today's cut throat competitive world that dog won't hunt.

I hear you gasp is horror!

But you know this intuitively.  Here are supporting clues you are familiar with:

  • You can't find great salespeople (they are with the unicorns in Middle Earth)
  • It takes decades (no lie) for a new one to be economically productive
  • You can't scale your business this way as your project managers (or cradle to grave craftspeople) are too busy managing the risks on complex projects to go out and sell
  • Your revenue follows the market–your existing customers suffer economic downs and so do you.  You are not in control of your destiny. You are a cork bobbing on the current wave.
  • The delivered margins on your projects varies job to job.

Feel we are a little harsh?

If you don't have the above symptoms and your operating margin (not gross profit margin!) is greater than 10%, drop us an email and we will send you a Starbucks gift card where we will happily celebrate your success.

It is not realistic for one person to do all these things well:

  • Identify new prospects
  • Create compelling value propositions to present to these new prospects
  • Have sufficient conversations with new prospects
  • Find an opportunity to create a bid
  • Estimate and price bids
  • Craft those bids to manage risk and reward
  • Complete all administrative documentation, legal protections, safety protocols etc
  • Logistics and material planning
  • Managing supply chain shortages
  • Scheduling
  • Find, train installation crews
  • Launch and manage projects
  • Contract administration
  • Deal with multiple trades
  • Manage change orders
  • Complete paperwork
  • Progress Bill
  • Closeout
  • Final Bill
  • Negotiate
  • Collect retainage
  • Get the next job

It's too much.  You end up with:

  • really good project managers who help you get great delivered margins and happy clients but hate and can't sell their way out of a wet paper bag
  • and gifted relationship builders who create organizational mayhem because they don't complete paperwork on time, throw bids over the wall and are timid or indifferent to ensuring all change orders are documented and paid.

Installing complex flooring jobs is a craft.  The core competence is project management.

Winning new customers is a craft.  The core competence is selling.

What's the answer?

Recognize these talents need to be nurtured separately.

Here's our observation from being inside 60 flooring companies:

The variation in selling effectiveness (e.g by win rate) is far greater than the variation in project management (e.g by delivered margin v sold margin)

Makes sense right?  Coz selling is a black art practiced by magicians and project management is well documented and has standard processes–you can even learn it at school!

So take away the non selling activities from your salespeople and house them  inside a predictable, measurable project execution system.  You'll see a massive decline in noise and your delivery will be better.

Build a lead generation capability that will feed the relationship builders opportunities that they can close and then had off to the project excellence team!

(We can help you with this).

Oh, then you can hire salespeople. Not look for unicorns.  And please, don't hire them from within the flooring industry.  A good salesperson can sell ice to Eskimos.  They don't need to have spent 20 years learning the craft of installing floors.

PS Your Project managers will enjoy their jobs much more!