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business performance and development, organisational change
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Dialog Semiconductor


Transforming Global Sales Conferences

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Dialog Semiconductor


Dialog strives to be the “go to” company for integrated power saving and low energy wireless connectivity technologies for high growth portable platforms including smartphones, tablets and Ultrabooks™.

It’s a business that has enjoyed seven successive years of profitable and rapid growth. Top-line growth in 2013 rose to 17% to $903 million,with increased underlying profitability and an even stronger balance sheet, against a backdrop of broadly flat global revenues amongst their competitors in the semi conductor industry.

Improving business performance – the background

In 2011, Andrew Austin, Senior Vice President of Sales at Dialog, first saw Ben Hunt-Davis deliver his “Will It Make The Boat Go Faster?” presentation at a British Shooting event.

It would be two years before they were to work together.

Ben’s inspirational story of how his GB rowing eights team made history, with their Gold medal winning performance at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, resonated with Andrew. As a formidable sportsman himself – he is a veteran of the Great Britain Olympic Shooting Team in the skeet event and now coaches young athletes for Team GB – he immediately understood the parallels that Ben drew between sporting success and business excellence.

Fast forward 2 years to a meeting in the Dialog boardroom when the 2013 global sales conference was being planned. The location was to be Cannes in the South of France and the themes that were discussed were around water. That’s when Andrew decided to approach Ben and the Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? team and ask them to be part of the event. After all, water was central to the Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? story – it seemed to be a natural choice!

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There is a strong connection between high performance in sports and success in business – I knew our people would be able to draw parallels in terms of teamwork, passion, dedication and attention to the smallest detail.

Andrew Austin, Senior Sales Vice President, Dialog

Improving Business Performance – The Challenge

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Dialog is a globally successful business – the culture is supremely goal oriented, as are the individuals who drive that success.

From Andrew Austin’s perspective, they needed to move things up a level – and impress on their teams the need for a new cross-selling strategy. They had taken over several companies in recent times, and they wanted the sum of the parts to be greater – to bring people together into one unit.

Our teams are given challenges that cannot be resolved in 3 hours – they have to work as a unit over a period of time. Therefore, the challenge was to find a way to ensure everyone felt they had a part in developing the new solutions and a final strategy for global cross-selling.

We felt that the Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? story was something our teams could buy into. We wanted improved overall conference facilitation and, of course, measurable impact as a result. Our priority for the Cannes sales conference was to find a springboard that would impact the daily actions of 140 sales teams across the world.

Dan Harper, Head of Sales, Americas

Improving Business Performance: The Process

We worked with Dialog on a rolling basis over 3 years – not only as conference facilitators but as partners in the preparation, delivery and measurement of results.

Our involvement began 3 months before the Cannes sales conference . The Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? team began by clarifying the desired outcomes. The primary objective was to set measurable targets in Cannes that could then be reviewed at the next global sales conference in Sorrento in 2014. Our initial involvement started with the senior leadership team challenging us to set the purpose of the conference, and the activities that would generate the required results.

After interviewing key participants in preparation we designed, and facilitated a programme of interactive workshops that met the brief.

Our work didn’t stop there – we challenged the key leaders on a regular basis to ensure that they were building momentum, gathering evidence of progress and achieving the results they needed.

Our work culminated in the delivery of the Sorrento Sales Conference, in 2014, when Tom Barry of the Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? Team performed the role of Master of Ceremonies. Here we facilitated café workshops, based on the Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? core principles.

In 2015, we will roll out the resulting distilled ideas on cross-selling to the next leadership conference, with a view to cascading these themes down through the business.


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Ben tells it as it is. I appreciate the clarity, honesty and directness of his approach. It’s refreshing.

Dan Harper – Head of Sales, Americas

Improving Business Performance – The Outcome

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Andrew Austin articulates why he felt the Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? approach worked for Dialog:

Tom was an important emollient in the process – he understood the possibilities for our business. Ben provided the link with sporting excellence and the boat analogy that can be easily understood – if you focus and hone in on what you know to be important you can achieve much more than you may ever have believed. The Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? ethos was particularly helpful in making that belief part of the daily life of each of our teams.

From Dan Harper’s point of view the value of a story that high achieving engineers can relate to is key:

Sales conferences went from boring to something that our engineers actually looked forward to.

Improving Business Performance – Measuring Results

Dialog set very SMART goals at the outset of their work with us. For that reason they were able to measure specific successes:

  • Percentage of key units with multiple Bus increased from 3% to 21%
  • More than 10 customers in production with complex design
  • Reference designs with multi BU in place for wearables, wireless charging & lighting
  • Sales organisation restructured to facilitate effective cross selling
  • Rationalisation of channels
  • Customer diversity – 37% increase in active customers
  • 2014 revenue grew by 28% to $1,156 million

These are incredibly specific objectives that allowed Dialog to regularly assess their progress and performance.

We encourage all of our clients to set meaningful metrics at the outset of our work together, and then to measure our input against these criteria.

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Yes, we see ourselves working with them in the future – we like the relationship. There’s a chemistry.

Dan Harper – Head of Sales, Americas

Watch Our Videos

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