Sales Culture

9 Most Successful Business Models

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Bernard Marr has a thoughtful LinkedIn piece on business models for today’s world. He contends that you need to understand your business model to compete in today’s disruptive business world. How true.

Here is a quick excerpt for each model:

The servitisation (subscription) business

Instead of selling a product or a service as a one-off, servitisation companies operate on a subscription or ongoing service model, building a more intimate understanding of their customers in the process.

The platform-based business

This model is closely linked to the sharing economy and subscription models (see above – in fact, platforms are particularly powerful when combined with a subscription model). Well-known examples of platform businesses include Facebook, GitHub, Uber and Airbnb. As you can probably guess from these examples, platforms provide a mechanism or network – this could be a physical network, not necessarily online – for parties to interact with each other.

The social, authentic business

The traditional, corporate business model, with its hierarchies, silos and endless formal meetings is changing. These days, customers want to see the people behind the brand; they want to really “connect” with a business. Remember how companies and, more specifically, the people who work for them were discouraged from voicing personal viewpoints or discussing the company outside of work? That’s now an outdated way of operating. Today’s authentic businesses share their opinions and stand up for their values.

The employee-centric business

The way we work is changing. People are more nomadic in their work, and the days of a “job for life” are well and truly gone. To be successful, companies still need great people, but the way they go about attracting those people is changing. The “gig economy” has played a huge role in this transformation, since it gives businesses the means to create a fantastic team in lots of different ways – not just the traditional, full-time, permanent employee route.

The partner-centric business

As well as becoming more employee centric, companies are also becoming more partner centric. They are almost like networked businesses, outsourcing work, tapping into on-demand services, partnering with providers, and insourcing expertise where necessary. They create attractive networks of partnerships – and are a valuable partner to others. Just look at the average small or mid-sized business these days and you’ll likely see an example of a networked, partner-centric business.

The customer value-obsessed business

For me, this model applies to absolutely every business because it’s all about solving customers’ problems, anticipating their needs, making people’s lives easier and removing any friction or hassle. Amazon is an obvious example of this. Online personal styling subscription service Stitch Fix is another great example. With Stitch Fix, users detail their size and style preferences by filling out a questionnaire (they can also link to their Pinterest account). Then, using artificial intelligence, the system pre-selects clothes that will fit and suit the customer, and a (human) personal stylist chooses the best options from that pre-selected list.

The constant-innovation business

The ability to innovate is crucial to business success. But, today, the pace of innovation isn’t just fast, it’s constant. Some of the most successful businesses in the world are constantly innovating and transforming, even if it means cannibalising their own products and services to create something new. Take Apple’s iPod, for example. By introducing smart phones that could hold your music, the company effectively killed off the need for a separate device.

The data-driven business

Smart organisations recognise that data is one of their critical business assets. Really smart organisations encourage a data culture, where the importance of data is recognised at every level of the business, and decisions across the company are based on data, not assumptions.

The tech-savvy business

We live in a time of break-neck technological innovation. AI, big data, blockchain, 3D printing, augmented reality and virtual reality are just some of the massive changes that are taking place right now. So it’s no surprise that many of the most successful companies on the planet are tech businesses. Apple, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook are, at the time of writing, among the six most valuable companies in the world; the only non-tech company in the top six is Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway.

This comprehensive list addresses almost all of the current models. It seems that these models will potentially change in the near future. The technological changes on the horizon will certainly drive new models embracing new technologies. For now, understanding your ideal model will help define your revenue focus.

Analog vs Digital - the Contrast of Operations vs. Sales


The gap between operations and sales in organizations is always obvious and can be explained by their respective measurement cultures.

In operations, improving a process from 93.4% successful performance to 93.9% can be cause for an over the top celebration. Even improving it to 93.5% confirms positive progress is being made and everyone gets knuckles for their positive efforts. If the number drops to 93.2%, everyone goes into do-over mode to drive the process % higher. The model is totally analog in terms of everyone’s focus on evolving improvements.

In sales, there are no 93.5% orders. Orders are binary outcomes meaning you win or lose (commission plan gets a 1 or 0 multiplier). Everyone with a 0 multiplier finished “second” and there are NO do-overs. This fundamental measurement (and celebration) difference requires totally different employee profiles and leadership cultures to perform successfully. What works inside never works outside – the circuitry is wrong…it is that simple.

If you would like to learn how the RoundTable can help you win in the digital world of sales, please consider attending one of our upcoming briefings.

A Sign of Cloning-Complete Agreement

Building the best team involves picking the right horses

From the Harvard Business Review (emphasis mine):

“Team leaders want to nurture creativity. That’s why team building is often a high priority, because cohesion is supposed to help team members work together to achieve their goals. But you should avoid fostering too much cohesion. When it comes to creativity, the best teams fight a little (or even a lot). Structured, task-oriented conflict means that new ideas are being submitted to the group and tested. If your team always agrees, that might mean people are self-censoring their ideas or not generating any new ideas at all. Research suggests that when teams forgo traditional brainstorming rules and engage in debate, they end up with more and better ideas. As a leader, it may seem like your job is to break up fights, but don’t be afraid to act as a referee instead. Allow disagreements over ideas to unfold, while making sure it stays fair and doesn’t get personal.“

How true.  If your sales team is always in agreement, it is probable that you have either assembled a group cloned after yourself or you are overly domineering and no one wants to challenge any idea.  Either one is detrimental and definitely needs to be addressed (i.e. corrected).

If you have a group that you cloned after your own style and strengths, you are dealing with a group weakness effect whether you are aware of it or not.  Although you have strength in certain areas, other areas can be complete blind spots.  The problem with blind spots is that markets move, and if they move into one of your group blind spots, you will lose market share quickly.  The strongest teams we assess have a variety of styles and strengths which provide a well-rounded group skill set.  These teams are more difficult to lead and they often debate, but therein lies their strength.

If you are domineering, that is a different issue requiring a behavior change (no small feat).  The first step is to know you are overpowering some, or all, of your team.  As the article states, you should view yourself more as the referee and less of the active player.  A thoughtful pause, a question for others’ input, deflecting to the group…these are all approaches that will help empower your people to be more creative.