Have you ever had the sensation that you have done something before, even though you can’t really recall it? Déjà vu is a French phrase that means, ‘a feeling of already experiencing the present situation’.

Having started Kaizen Executive just over 10 years ago and just prior to the GFC, I am getting the feeling that we may be in for a bumpy ride over the next 12 – 18 months. I am by no means suggesting that we will a crash like we did in 2009, but that a number of factors are coming to play that we have seen before, such as the tightening of bank lending and the outcomes of the banking royal commission, and, in some cases, the oversupply of residential stock and construction issues (for example, the Opal Tower in Sydney).

We are also coming off a buoyant economy that has seen growth and development at some all-time highs. Many of the companies I have worked with in the industry experiencing record sales results.

These factors are going to have an effect on what happens over the next few years and may subdue market optimism – which is a similar situation to where we were prior to the GFC.

So, over the last 10 years, have we actually learnt anything?

Without pouring cold water over what have been some fantastic times for our industry, there were some lessons learnt that we should still apply today.

Over the last 10 years, I have written over 40 articles for this magazine. Here are my thoughts and lessons from the past that still apply.


In my June 2009 article, ‘Managing through a tight economy’, I talked about making sure you have the right staff in the right roles and, if you are looking to recruit, make sure you have a rigorous recruitment process that will deliver exactly what you are looking for. More so, make sure you know what the key attributes and skills that the role requires to be successful.

In my March 2010 article, I talked about recruitment being both a science and an art – the science of knowing exactly what you want, and the art of choosing the right person that will ‘fit’ into your organisation’s culture; and nothing has changed.


If you are reviewing your sales team, let’s reflect on a discussion we had in September 2013, where I covered, ‘Selling – can you play to win’. This article was all about making sure your sales team has the right tools and processes in place to make them successful. My view is that selling is a science and you need to have a sales plan (success formula) which is all about engaging with the right customers or prospects and setting targets or goals (KPIs) for your team to achieve.

Slip back to September 2013 for a full refresher on the above, as well as managing your sales pipeline. What gets measured gets done!


Once you have determined that you have the right tools, look for the key attributes in your sales people. Who are the top performers, core performers and poor performers? In my June 2013 article, I talked about personality types and how important to success they can be.

You might remember me talking about the Sales Executive Council and the study they have been completing since the GFC on the most successful sales personality profile. These profiles are the Relationship Builder, Hard Worker, Problem Solver, Loan Wolf and the Challenger.

Of those of you who read the article or completed the profile assessment, can you remember which one is the most successful and, more importantly, why? I will leave that one with you to flick back through the magazines or your own personal assessment. If you cannot remember and are really interested, give me a call!


Many of you reading this article, whether you know it or not, have been part of the long-term Mystery Shopping exercise that I started in early 2015, and that I am still adding to now. In my December 2015 article, ‘In search of service excellence’, I spoke about how transactional the industry is and how we do not engage in understanding what the customers’ needs really are. Engagement, understanding, questioning technique and listening skills are going to become even more important through the next period.

We need to clearly understand ‘why’ our customers buy from us and how we can make that experience easier.


In my June 2016 article, I challenged if the buoyant market was masking our customer service performance and that we may not be as good as we think. Well, I think we are about to find out. The keys for me are to make sure you have the most well-trained staff you can (and I know some of you are on that journey); make sure you engage with your customers and really understand their needs and how you can assist; and ‘be different’.

Demonstrate why customers should buy from you and they will remember and come back!


Finally, we need to take the lead role. In my September 2018 article, I spoke about sales leadership and this will become even more important as we travel through some rough water. A good leader understands the way the markets will shift and how to manage through those times. As leaders, we can blame no-one but ourselves if we start to see that we are not achieving the results that are required. Make sure your people know why they are doing what they are and how that fits into the overall challenges faced and successes to come.

May the force be with you.