At August Ash, we partner with a variety of strategic vendors who help assist our clients in improving and expanding upon their 4 Pillars of Growth - Marketing, Sales, Strategy, and Technology. We recently had the pleasure of interviewing one of our Sales partners Daniel Steyn of Sales Xceleration. Daniel is an accomplished sales consultant and sales leadership professional with a proven track record optimizing bottom-line results on a global scale. Daniel combines his 20+ years of sales and leadership experience at large and small companies with Sales Xceleration’s proven platform to build winning sales strategies, world-class sales processes, high-performance sales teams, and disciplined sales execution for his clients. 

Daniel, you talk a lot about McKinsey’s 3 Horizons, why is this an important concept when it comes to sales and marketing? 

In 1998 the findings of McKinsey’s research of 36 growth companies and great kickstarters were published in a book entitled The Alchemy of Growth. One of the key concepts in the book was the idea that growing companies adopt a “three horizons” model to balance their current core business with fuel growth. “Horizon One” represents the company’s core business that typically delivers the greatest profits and cash flow. “Horizon Two” represents emerging opportunities that have the potential to generate significant growth and profits in the future. While “Horizon Three: address longer-term growth opportunities. 

“The research showed that as companies mature, they often face declining growth as innovation gives way to inertia. The immediacy of concerns around horizon-one businesses can easily overwhelm other efforts important to the future of a company.” The research highlights that successful companies are regularly setting aside time to evaluate and discuss each of the three their horizons and are actively working on them. 

It is only natural for a company to consider the three horizon model as it related to their current and future product development and support. But the three horizons also applies to a company’s sales and marketing strategy. Horizon One represents the company’s existing sales and marketing plan or approach that delivered the results to date. Horizon Two does not necessarily represent “new” sales and marketing concepts and methods, but different or better methods that exist today that has the potential to generate significant growth and profit. Horizon Three would be new emerging sales and marketing concepts or methods to consider in the future. 

You talk a lot about inertia vs innovation when it comes to sales. Tell us more about that concept. 

There are a number of reasons why companies are struggling with achieving their revenue target. For example, a manufacturing company’s revenue challenges might be due to their operational challenges and their inability to deliver. But when it comes to sales, we see ten issues at almost every one of our clients. The solution to these ten issues are not new but are industry tested and proven. Most companies get stuck in their existing sales and marketing strategies, programs and processes. As the McKinsey research found, “they often face declining growth as innovation gives way to inertia”.

Where can technology have the biggest impact on sales? 

There are a number of benefits in utilizing technology for sales, but one of the most fundamental technology solutions that has the biggest impact is implementing a CRMs. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system are not a new concept, but SaleXceleration’s research shows that 9 out of 10 Small and Medium-size companies don’t have a CRM system. A CRM system has a number of benefits. For example, executives can use a CRM system to do more effective forecasting which would allow them to do better resource planning. Furthermore, when a CRM system is integrated with a good lead generation marketing platform, it delivers more quality leads to the sale team that can be converted more effectively into sales.  This is just one of the top 10 issues that we see at many of our clients. As I stated earlier, the real problem that is preventing revenue growth is often a company’s lack of effective sales-infrastructure and procedures! 

Why is it so important for companies to build a foundation for growth and what does this mean in the face of increased competition? 

I was told the story of an executive that delayed his medical checkup because he could not find the time for it in his busy schedule. When he was later diagnosed with a life threatening condition he understandably so made the time for all the doctor visits and treatments. The same unfortunately applies to the challenges most sales and marketing departments face in small and medium-size companies. It is understandable that the concerns with the day-to-day businesses can easily overwhelm owners or executives. Most companies react to their revenue results the same way the executive reacted to the diagnoses, but it might be too late. In 2017 Forbes published a list of 17 well-known companies that had collectively closed more than 2,700 of their stores. 

For a company to grow, increase their revenue and stay ahead of their competitors, they have to be intentional about addressing their aging sales and marketing infrastructure, methods and processes that are important to the future of a company. What got you to where you are, will most often not get you to where you want to be. When innovation or improvements to a company’s sales-infrastructure and processes give way to inertia, a company’s revenue and long-term future are at risk. But when a company regularly does a review of all three the horizons, are open to change and adopts simple solutions to the top 10 issues we see, they are more likely to grow their revenue, achieve their dreams and stay ahead of their competitors. 

Tell us a little bit more about yourself!  

I started my career as an engineer doing product development. Over the last 20 years I served in various capacities in sales teams. In 2009 I became the Regional Business Manager for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa. The position I enjoyed the most was as the Intel General Manager for the East Africa region. I had to grow the region from one employee in 2006 to a full functional regional office with marketing and PR, pre-sales technical and post-sales account manager functions, a software development team, a retail and corporate sales team and a new business development team. We lived by Nelson Mandela’s statement “It only seems impossible until it is done” and accomplished what others often though was impossible.  

I lived in a few locations in Africa and Europe, filled up a number of passports as I was traveling for work, I did skydiving and ran more half-marathons than I care to remember. In 2016 my daughter was born, the child we thought we would never have, and that was the turnaround for me. I decided I wanted to be home to put her to bed at night instead of potentially being away from home for two weeks a month. The next big step was to move to Minnesota to be close to my daughter's grandparents. Today I offering my  20+ years of executive sales experience to small and mid-size companies by serving them as fractional or part-time Chief Revenue Officer or VP or Sales, helping them break their revenue record.