Three senior vice presidents (SVPs) at a marketing services company had been coming to RAIN Group events for years. Several times they requested meetings at our office to discuss possibilities for how to grow their company. This firm was just higher than $100 million in revenue, but for the past five years or so, the top line had been relatively flat.
The company had a great value proposition, a solid industry position, and a series of advantages over the competition that could fuel its growth. It could fuel it, that is, if the company were willing to invest in its own sales and marketing engine to scale up.
The three SVPs were energetic and passionate about the growth possibilities. After our conversations, they convinced us growth was within reach. However, they didn’t seem to be able to get the internal buy in they needed to get an initiative underway.
We asked them, “What do you think it will take for the company to be ready to go from discussing this to jumping in with both feet and making it happen?”
They looked at each other for a bit, and then one said, “My guess is nothing is going to happen until the old man dies.”
They were completely serious.
It turns out years earlier the old man, what they mostly affectionately called the owner and chief executive officer (CEO) was hell-bent on growth—constantly scanning the market for innovation and very impatient with the status quo. In the past decade, however, he hadn’t done much at all.