Member Rob Conant Speaks: External Skills Solving Internal Problems

The Challenge:

The case at hand was brought by the CEO of a recently purchased company, whose parent seemed unwilling to loosen the purse strings and invest in growing his company. With minimal traction at the board level, he and his executive team were frustrated.

If you were in this situation, what would you do?

If I were in your shoes, I’d go into your parent company and strive to understand their drivers and motivations. By solving their problems you’ll get through your own roadblock.

You and I have been in the same group for two years now and grown an appreciation for the variety of perspective our peers offer. In this case, I’d take the perspective of an enterprise salesman. Approach your parent company exactly as you approach your own customers: understand their problems and then position your company as part of the solution. Sell your vision into the parent company and, by doing so, you’ll better understand how your company fits into the broader strategic goals of the parent. You’ll also personally benefit by gaining more influence over the direction of the parent company. Take responsibility for what you want them to do, instead of expecting them to do it. This path will help you understand if you can ultimately do what you want within the parent company. If the answer is no, that’s ok. Move on.

The parent company spent hundreds of millions of dollars purchasing your company because they believe you are important for their future. Use that fact to give yourself more visibility and authority over the broader strategy. I’d recommend you now dedicate 80% of your time to the parent company, instead of to your customers. Leave that work to your sales force. But don’t forget to use your enterprise sales skills to envision constructive solutions for these internal issues.