Not a day goes by when this topic is not discussed. In the last week I have met with a number of people in the tech industry and the theme is consistent the days of “just get your number” are on the brink of extinction. There are some last bastions of this approach, but they are usually devoid of women, diversity and team work.
Yes coaching for success and making your people feel great so they can be successful is the only way to truly a high performing team in sales. If you work in a culture which is “just get your number” then its important to know the new world of sales is very different. The new world is about building a territory plan, working on the execution and coaching for success.
The “bully boy” approach may work with some men and young women who know no other way, there is a far more successful approach. HR practitioners, ensure you are not protecting the bully boy behaviour!
We need more sales people and the “50’s” method of get your number, is a way to put people off sales for life. It does not need to be that way. We could ensure more people are successful, and that will breed more success, Sales can have a great name and thrive in a great culture instead of a tribal culture, where the ones that know how to get results succeed the the others leave. This culture celebrates lone wolf behaviour which is detrimental to the well being of others in the team. The getting results is not by means we all know, they can be gaming the system, favouritism by the boss leading to the best portfolio and other scam that makes you look successful. These cultures are toxic and lead to what looks like good sales results, but the underlying damage to customers is long term deterioration of revenue and customer satisfaction.
5 signs that the toxic behaviours are embedded:
1. Salespeople are under so much pressure to achieve numbers they create ways to achieving it dishonestly. Here are some of the worst I have personally experienced: photocopying signatures on contracts, selling a lesser product which does not fit business needs in order to sign a new Sale, but destroying the customer experience. Sell products that are later credited due to customer not understanding what they have signed.
2. “Best performing” sales people rewarded with best portfolios when their previous portfolio, signed business which is now hit with credits due to poor selling. The incoming sales person’s performance is radically impacted without the previous sales person being impacted.
3. Lone wolfs are celebrated, as they are seen as successful. One of the side effects of individual targets, is there no such thing as team players, everyone is out for themselves.
4. Gaming of territory and portfolio is rife in order to secure the target. Letters are written from the customer asking for a specific sales person or another person signing a customer knowing they are not in their portfolio.
5. Overcharging, not cancelling products that are not used, not passing on discounts that new customers have access to, all erode the trust with a customer. Not being a “trusted advisor” in account management is only going to result in the customer churning to the competition. In a toxic sales culture, salespeople work on the short term principle on the customer focused principle of Life time value.
The future of great sales cultures, is one that is supportive, nurturing, diverse, customer focused, group targets, to develop collaboration, leverage skills across the team, every success is celebrated no matter how small, lone wolf behaviour is not accepted, diversity is the norm.