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Surfing for Growth

Surfing for Growth as a Scale Up

The Perfect Wave or the Dumper?


By Matt Pearce

As a young fella growing up in Australia, the beach has been a huge part of my life and from an early age. The Sunday trip to the beach was a ritual.

Up early in the car with Mum, Dad and the sisters. We were off to one of the many beaches that dot the magnificent coast line of SEQ followed by lunch at a beachside take away.

The smell of fish and chips and the taste of Sarsaparilla combined with the feeling of being slightly burnt, are all memories that are still so vivid all these years later. 

On these trips my father, (a seventies' surfer) taught me from an early age how to read the surf and look for the right beach and best waves. Winds, currents and tides all played a part.

Once at the beach, we’d learn to understand the rips and sandbars to pick the best break.   

The right wave would give you a great, long ride that got the heart pumping and the adrenaline rushing.

The wrong wave (the dumper) and you were in for a short ride, a mouth full of sea water and sand in spots that aren’t that comfortable.

Why would I be thinking of surfing in the middle of winter?

Here at SG Partners, we are working with scaling businesses and I see the similarity in searching for the perfect wave with building a business.  Each stage of business growth is like catching a wave; the goal is to catch the right one each time to give you the best ride and get you the furthest along.

The First Wave… Start up

Many businesses in startup mode recruit the right people. The technical nature of the roles provides the ability to be objective in selection. They rigorously assess potential employees, actively sourcing the right skills and put them through a raft of tests to ensure they meet technical capability.

These key roles bring the product/services to life. At this stage, the founders are wearing all the other hats.

They bring on early adopters who help evolve the product/service, they work on some flagships to build credibility and are focusing on keeping the business moving in the right direction. They always have one eye on the culture they are building. A happy worker will produce their best work. 

The Second Wave… Scale Up

All the work pays off, the foundations are there. The business has a structure and there may even be a dedicated sales function in some form but is now time to ramp up and scale up.

To date, objective selection has underpinned the company’s position.

Many businesses lose this focus when it comes to selecting sales staff.

We are presently working with two businesses:

Company A: Here comes the Dumper….

The company lost its previous rigor around objective selection when it came to selecting sales people as they didn’t see the importance.

They hired “people with a good network” or someone referred by a shareholder/client/friend with the recommendation of “this person can sell.” There was no objective evaluation.

The Outcome: Wipeout

Six months down the track and sales are stalling, the growth isn’t happening as quickly as forecast or required. Shareholders are getting nervous.

The founders approached us to assist in triaging the situation, and we are presently helping to get them back out to the break and find the right wave.  

Company B: Setting up for the Perfect Wave

The second business is just about to press the button on their next phase of major growth.

The founders have built an amazing software platform, an inclusive, positive culture and a focus on rewarding success.

They are using the same rigor for assessing their sales people as they have their other professional staff. We have had the pleasure of supporting them through this process. They are receiving proven and tested sales professionals who will deliver.

For the lucky sales professionals who join this organisation, they have the chance to ride the perfect wave with the business as it grows from strength to strength.

As any business grows, selecting the best sales professionals is critical.

Are you setting up for the perfect wave or some sand in the swimmers?  

Contact us if you would like to find the right break to drive growth.