Personal development

Setting precedence

Throughout my career the lens of setting precedence has been a key to success. I always ask, if I say yes to this what is the consequences? If I say no, what message am I sending?

Every day I apply this rule to whatever I am doing. Generally employees are looking for a yes answer to please their customer. Respect comes from setting boundaries and clearly stating the No position, where the commercial ramifications don’t make sense.

In any business there are bottlenecks, when the process is clear then the process is manageable, when the customer enters the process signing a document that outlines any delays may mean going to the back of queue, which equates to a painful delay, they take the signing of the document seriously. The same message verbally may not have impact. In fact has no impact as they are not committed.

When we make allowances, even when financially it does not make sense, we remove the barrier and the new the standard is set, proving the barrier can move. Now you are in trouble as you have no way of resetting as you have moved it once.

When the requests are financially impactful to your business, you are now in territory known as “what has no price has no value” where you are taken for Granted And the situation is financially unsustainable. The only answer as you now have a precedent that is challenging is to rip the band aid off and have the honest conversation, resetting the boundaries that should have been there from the outset.

The rule of precedent is simple, stick to the position where commercially it makes sense, as when you move, there are no boundaries left and you are now in a disrespectful, subservient relationship, which will result in further requests, as you have shown the boundaries move.

Where have you seen precedents set that are unsustainable? What was the impact? What was the outcome? What was the learning? What would you do differently? what was the impact on the cx?

High Performing Teams Personal development Sales leadership

Toxic Sales Cultures

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.





Leadership Mentoring Personal development

5 Lessons in transformational leadership

Transformational leadership is a key skill in today’s digitally disrupted environment. In the last two and half years I have worked with a sales team in telecom to transition from traditional telecom sales to selling cloud, managed services, applications and professional services.  When I started in the role I naively believed this would be a 12 month process, it took over 2 years. Here are some of the key lessons from my experience:

  1.  Spend time on the Why, no one is interested in the How unless they understand the Why. Ask your team in monthly town halls or all hands sessions why are we changing? It takes time for people to really understand the why.
  2. Regular transparent communications. Weekly updates on progress, recognising any small shift in behaviour, calling it out and celebrating every small change. People don’t change if they feel unsupported, create a safe learning environment.
    • run regular employee engagement surveys on how they are feeling, so you can address concerns in the regular communication
  3. Cadence is essential with any changes: Ensure any new cadence is introduced with a clear expectation of what they need to do, how they can get help to prepare and recognise every improvement they make no matter how small. Coach on the gaps.
  4. Use behavioural framework to help the team understand what is expected of them. This is relevant for cultural change. Culture is underpinned by behaviours that have been acceptable in the past and no longer serve the business. Highlight the 5-6 behaviours that need to change, work out what good, and excellent  looks like for each of the behaviours to change, then ask your leaders where they are on each one. Then coach on achieving the good and excellent.  For example: Excuse behaviour:
    • Excellent: is find solutions proactively and communicate the actions they will take to make it happen and then execute.
    • Good: comes with possible solutions not sure of right option and looks for assistance, then executes.
    • Poor: makes excuses why something cannot happen.
  5. Stakeholders. Keeping your Managers and other stakeholders updated on your plan and progress to the plan is critical. We all underestimate the time to turnaround a situation, so being clear on the plan and where you are on achieving the milestones is key.

What are your experiences?