February 23rd, 2011
It’s a problem in way too many companies. While it’s very common in large companies, it starts long before that. Where? 10 employees? 100? 1000? Perhaps it’s the leadership or backgrounds (how many come from big red tape companies). Or maybe revenues are a bigger indicator, or not. Perhaps these are all various components, but culture is most definitely a big contributor, or inhibitor, to the Sales Prevention Department (and in this case, an inhibitor would be a positive thing!).
“What is the Sales Prevention Department?” you may be asking. If you’re asking, congratulations, good for you. Whatever you’re doing or whomever you’re working for, keep on doing it, because if this isn’t ringing bells, you’re likely in a good place. The short answer is who is the person or group that is always putting up obstacles rather than contributing to solutions? Who always says no, often before they even hear the question? Whose answer is always I think not rather than I think I can? Let’s look at some examples that happen all too frequently. (By the way, it’s ok to laugh. Humor is good. Laughing is good for you! These situations can be so frustrating and stress inducing, laughter might be just what the doctor ordered.)
Red tape. This is truly the classic. No one can get anything done because the process is so lengthy and convoluted, if you can even follow it. And oh my goodness no, don’t have any special request, an idea outside the box, a “custom fit” anything because the process was not built for this. By the time you get an answer, if you do, your lead is probably cold or being serviced very well by a “clear” or “no tape” company committed to high customer satisfaction.
Culture. In the box or out of the box. Are employees encouraged to be creative and innovative, try new or different strategies? Are they empowered to do so? Are the penalties too high if it doesn’t work? Can people disagree or constructively offer different opinions? After all, no one bats 1000 all the time. Clearly some understanding and limits might be in order, particularly when money and brand are involved. But we’re not talking about spending a million dollars here. Sure those ideas might come up as well, however it’s more likely that many people will have great ideas about how they do their jobs, what works and doesn’t, what might work better, product improvements or new product ideas. Does your organization have room for this? Encourage it? Reward it?
Common sense. Does your organization remember what this means? So many companies become so engrained in a particular process or what they’ve always done (hold that thought), common sense no longer prevails. It’s truly interesting to be present in a rare moment when some level of management is talking out loud, talks themselves into a square circle, and suddenly the lightbulb goes off. They may or may not be able to address it, but they’ve just realized it. What’s coming out of their mouth makes absolutely no sense. Whether a process, a policy, a product direction…whatever the case. When common sense has left a person or organization (even worse when they don’t realize it, which is most of the time), they are for sure, part of the Sales Prevention Department. Another way to spot when common sense has left the room…people who always argue everything, no matter what! There is absolutely no leeway with them, nothing can be assumed, there is no practicality…common sense is just not present.
Big mouths. Sales and other people who never stop talking. A prospect might be ready to say yes, but you would never know it, because the sales person’s strategy for overcoming objections is to never let anyone else get a word in. Big mouths can also be in leadership or various parts of an organization however, if they talk far more than they listen, and think they are the only ones who have any “right answers.”
Too intense. Not to be confused with being passionate about what you do or having high energy. Are people, particularly in leadership or highly visible positions, just too intense? Have or create too much anxiety? Do they make your clients, prospects, or partners sit on pins and needles, or wonder what planet this person is from? Do people meeting with them breathe a sigh of relief when they’re gone and hope they never have to deal with them again, or do they mark the calendar and start dreading the next meeting already? Do they make grasshoppers nervous and start things bouncing out of control?
Ears off. Do your people listen? Listen more than they talk? Listen to customers, employees, partners? Does your organization actively ask questions and listen to answers? Does it create opportunities and environments for people to actively share and listen to product experiences? Organizations that are close to their customers are far more successful. How do you know what direction to go with a product if you don’t have your ears on? How arrogant for us to assume we have all the answers. Don’t get me wrong…subject matter and industry expertise is critical in product direction, however, not at the cost or exclusion of real user input or without awareness of where the market is going. Same is true for employees in organizations, members in a group or association, even within your own families. This is human nature and when ears are on, ideas develop, and success is empowered.
We/they. Do you know the they department? “You know they say…” do you ever wonder who they is? Organizations or individuals who point fingers in various directions, assigning problems or responsibility for success, rather than an all encompassing approach will reach a point and get stuck. It’s inevitable. Everyone is on the bus for a reason. If not, they should not be on the bus. They should also be in the right seat where they can contribute the most value; if not, they should change seats (or be swapped) and leadership should be “Johnny on the spot” on top of this. So, if people are on the right bus, in the right seat, people have an understanding of each person’s/group’s role and value. We/they is no longer and issue. Sales Prevention Department does not exist here.
This is the way we’ve always done it. Never heard this one in your organization. Yeehawww! Stay right where you’re at. Don’t even think of changing your position. You my friend, are in a wonderful place! If this is a common answer (excuse) in your organization, chances are the org/person/group is stuck in a rut. And a rut they will not get out of alone. And a rut that prevents sales because there is no room for change. Change management is a common term used to describe needs of the organization. Life, economies, markets…are not static things. No process or approach will work forever. Want different results, do different things. It’s that simple.
Do you know these people or groups? Great, that’s step one. An organization will never reach its potential leaving the Sales Prevention Department in place. Addressing sales prevention is a cultural issue and requires true empowerment and follow through, not lip service. What are you doing about it?