Previous Next
How to get the most out of your reading experience?
Scroll to read the article
Swipe to navigate
between articles
Got it

Case Study One

Sean Lafferty | CEO, Steinel America Inc.

When Sean Lafferty became CEO of Steinel America in 2017, he inherited a whole host of problems. Sales were declining, morale was low and the sales team had little incentive to work harder, as everyone was paid below the industry average without eligibility for bonuses.

Sales leadership was also weak, with the company’s two product lines — lighting controls and heating tools — overseen by two unqualified and untrained sales managers.

“These managers were telling salespeople what to do while working less and collecting a bigger paycheck,” explains Lafferty, a Vistage member since 2022. “Not exactly the winning mindset I was looking for.”

Pledging to turn the team into “winners,” Lafferty made sweeping changes to the sales team. He fired one sales manager, hired another and took on the responsibilities of a sales manager himself. He swapped salaries for variable compensation packages, brought in a consultant to create a common language for sales and developed a rigorous process for managing funnels and forecasts.

He started personally training his sales managers, teaching them about the principles of good management, such as how to lead from the front, take care of people, communicate effectively and leverage the unique strengths of each team member.

“As a sales manager, you have to have a lot of discipline and focus to step back from your day-to-day activities and understand the capabilities of your salespeople,” Lafferty says. “Everybody’s different, and you’re going to end up with all kinds of personalities. You need to understand how to work with those people and adapt to their communication styles and needs.”

To serve as a model for his managers, Lafferty also started having weekly meetings with leads from different divisions in the company to discuss and solve practical issues impeding sales and impacting the forecast. In doing so, he tried to demonstrate what he envisioned for his managers and teach them how to do it.

“A big part of being a sales manager is problem-solving, understanding activities that lead to success and taking excuses out of the equation,” he explains. “When you start removing roadblocks, people start to win. And it becomes contagious.” People are, in fact, winning at Steinel now. Between 2018 and 2022, the company’s revenue grew from $5.5 million to $16 million. This year, it’s projected to hit $22 million.

Lafferty credits the discipline of his sales team, rather than his sales strategy, as key to this success. “There are a ton of great methodologies out there,” he says. “To be perfectly honest, it doesn’t matter which one you pick — as long as you pick one, stick to it and get disciplined around executing it.”

error: Content is protected !!
A Research Perspective