It’s a new year. That means it’s time to reset sales goals, adjust strategy and get ready to embrace whatever the market throws our way.

As a sales trainer and coach, I’m often focused on SWOT analyses, Key Account Plans, and Consultative Selling techniques. Everyone knows these are important for growing sales, but I must say, with every class (virtual of course), there’s at least one or two people who struggle to focus on sales best practices. Instead they’re thinking about why goals are unrealistic, managers that aren’t supportive, inventory that’s not available, competition that’s better priced, other departments not doing their part, whether or not their job will be around next quarter, or if “management” even knows what’s going on.

Sounds like a lot of excuses, eh? To me, these are all symptoms of a troubled company culture.

Poor company culture kind of sneaks up on us – it’s certainly not the intent.  Over the last 10 years of working with organizations, I’ve seen first-hand these top 5 cultural challenges that inhibit sales…

1. Organizational Silos.

The most common culprit is when a culture allows departmental goals to take precedent over organizational goals.   Managers see their department team as their top priority, and will die on the sword for them.   There’s tremendous pride in being a team member, so much that other departments are considered less important or less capable.

The impact?  Gossip, disrespect, poor decisions, poor customer service and overall reduced productivity.

2. Poor communication.

Connected to organizational silos is poor communication.  The thicker the silo walls, the harder it is to send consistent messages across the organization.  In this environment, people don’t believe there is enough communication.  Or worse, people don’t believe there isn’t any communication.  When there’s no communication, people tend to make negative assumptions.

The impact? Gossip, confusion, lost confidence in leadership, skepticism and poor or inconsistent decisions.

3. Lack of Accountability. 

Accountability has a negative connotation.  People don’t want to be “held to account”.  We’re adults after all and don’t want others checking up on us.  But over time, if there’s no consequences for missing deadlines, late response-times, or not honouring commitments, these bad behaviours are considered acceptable behaviours, and therefore the norm.

The impact?  Apathy (why bother?), finger-pointing, resentment, slowed progress, and generally speaking, under-performance.

4. Poor Problem-Solving.

Many organizations suffer from repeat issues.  Inventory, shipping, product development and customer service are all fraught with challenges.  It becomes an issue of poor problem-solving when one hears the same conversation at every team meeting.  There seems to be an inability in not only solving the problem, but identify the root cause.

The impact?  Complacency, frustration, independent decisions, wrong decisions, and wasted time.

5. Poor Managers.

“Poor” is all encompassing.  It includes managers who are: absent, inconsistent, unorganized, power-wielding, afraid-to-make-decisions, and show little concern for people.  Ouch.  Who wants to be a manager?  These are all perceptions of course.  Most managers I work with want to be a great manager.   They’re just not aware of the negative impact that they’re having.  They were once star performers promoted to a role that manages people.  Excelling in one role rarely automatically means success in another role.

The Impact? Staff quit, under-perform and may undermine their manager’s actions.

 

Poor company culture will ultimately inhibit sales growth.  There are many reasons for subpar sales performance.  Look closely and culture is usually the real culprit.  Cultural challenges intersect and amplify each other, making it difficult to isolate and address.   

So what’s the solution? 

It starts with senior leadership. Company culture needs to be recognized as a significant driver of performance.  Leaders must commit to changing the culture and lead by example.  Bring in an outside facilitator who can help you through the journey.  Where are we now?  What does the ideal culture look like?  How do we help people change the way they work? Yes, it can be a long process. It can be tough.  Are you up for the challenge?  I think those sales growth targets tell us there’s no other option.

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ABOUT ANGELA LEACH

Angela is on a mission to create a happier workplace.  After all, everyone wins when people love coming to work: the employees, the customers and the company’s bottom line!

Connect with Angela for strategic planning, customized training and on-going coaching in the areas of: culture, strategy, employee experience, and customer experience.