It is safe to say that the majority of companies in distress are experiencing weak top-line trends. Unfortunately, it is also true that in most cases, TM firms are ill equipped and unable to materially reverse their clients’ top-line woes.
In my 12 years in turnaround management, I have heard many dissembling comments from sales and marketing people who have not been delivering their top-line numbers. Just some examples:
- “Sales are down because our products are too expensive, we need to take a price decrease”
- “The forecast is X because of A, B & C (account issues/market trends, competition, etc.)”
- “Salesmen are too busy and overworked to do more (alternatively, we are understaffed)”
- “We can’t let John/Jane go/reduce their compensation, because they will leave the company and take their accounts with them”
- “Here are my priorities – what more do you want me to do?”
- “The problem is operations/finance/ the customer, they can’t meet shipment deadlines/they are too slow to approve pricing/that [customer] policy is what it is”
- “The company’s advertising/promotions/new products/etc. are uncompetitive”
Depending upon the case, some of these claims may have some merit. Yet, I have found that most financially oriented TM advisors are uncomfortable and, or ill equipped to challenge these assumptions. When this occurs, the TM manager reverts to the financial and operational work and at best (or worst) is able to rend some costs out of the marketing and sales departments.
When this occurs, the ultimate result is that the assumptions and policies are not addressed or corrected and the clients’ sales trends continue to deteriorate. This in turn means that most often, clients, stakeholders and TM firms will not benefit from an injection of growth related value.
The solution is obvious and potentially game changing: turnaround cases that foresee the client remaining as an ongoing concern need to have their sales and marketing teams challenged by a qualified sales and marketing consultant to maximize value for all stakeholders.