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Why Do Some Companies Grow Profitably While Others Stall?
All companies seek to experience high sales growth.  Even the most successful companies face slow growth at some point in their journey and are forced to reinvent themselves – think Levi Strauss & Company in the year 2000 after a 35% decline or Toys “R” Us today.  Other companies like Cable TV providers struggle to grow as fast as industry leaders like Netflix.  While business models and timing certainly come into play, there are other factors that leaders should pay attention to.

A Recent McKinsey Study
A recent McKinsey study of more than 1,000 companies identified five meaningful things that distinguish fast-growing sales organizations from their lagging peers.  They were a commitment to the future, a focus on key aspects of digital, using sales analytics, investing in people, and marrying leadership vision with action.  Here’s our take on what leaders must do to outperform their peers.

Four Ways to Unlock High Sales Growth for Your Company
After analyzing our organizational alignment research results and then blending in our own experience of twenty-plus years of working with sales leaders, we have come up with four of the most distinguishing features of high-growth companies.  The so-called secret sauce of high sales growth includes:

  1. Explicit Sales Alignment
    High performing sales organizations rank in the top quartile in terms of sales strategy, culture, and talent alignment. Sales alignment means that (1) their sales strategy is more understood, believable, and implementable than their slower growing peers; (2) their sales culture helps to explicitly fuel growth and customer centricity instead of making it difficult to close deals and serve clients; and (3) they are better able to attract, develop, engage, and retain sales and marketing talent to execute the sales strategy and live the sales culture.These highly aligned sales companies grow revenue 58% faster, are 72% more profitable, and retain customers 2.23-to-1 compared to their less aligned peers.
  2. A Future Growth Mindset
    High growth sales forces obsess about understanding and shaping the future. This pronounced forward looking approach allows them to foresee – and often create – trends in the marketplace and then act upon them before their competition.  When sales organizations believe that they can get smarter and better, they put in the discretionary effort required to achieve higher performance.Don’t underestimate the neuroscience behind how your team thinks about growth.  To win consistently, you need to be able to anticipate changes that could bring about either unique opportunities or dangerous threats.  And then you need to adjust your strategy to steer your way to higher growth.
  3. Commitment to Sales Performance Improvement
    To maintain high growth you need to continuously improve. This means not only providing the kind of consultative sales training that closes critical sales skill gaps but also keeps you ahead of the pack.  Committing to improvement requires having sales managers who are ready to invest in their team’s development and see that their teams receive ongoing sales coaching to hone and embed desired sales skills in their day-to-day approach.
  4. Active Stakeholder Involvement
    We know how important it is for leadership to inspire their workforce with a clear and compelling vision of success. But designing the vision with leadership is only the first step.  You must actively involve all stakeholders – leadership, marketing, sales, service, finance, legal, product development, etc. – in the design and implementation plans for growth.Remember  that your sales strategy must go through your people and your culture to get fully implemented.  Let your key stakeholders design a sales growth plan that will actually be fully supported by those who matter most.

The Bottom Line
Our high performance research found that sales leaders have seventy-two different leadership actions that they can take to improve sales performance.  Regardless of industry, these four ways to unlock high sales growth for your company are a great place to start if you want to outperform your peers.

To learn more about how to boost profitable sales revenue, download What is the Right Amount of Sales Performance Pressure to Create High Growth?


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