Mar 18 2014
Why Organizational Culture MATTERS!
A Banker resigned today–very publicly–from his employer and published an Opinion piece in the New York Times (http://tinyurl.com/6ozlqmt). Some are claiming sour grapes as a result of a lower-than-expected bonus–but, regardless, the editorial is worth noting some key reminders for those that help steer the ships or tend the sails of organizations.
Organizational Culture MATTERS. I always tell clients, “you can get your culture by accident–or, you can deliberately plan for the culture you desire…and then build it” (your front-line managers are absolutely essential!). In this instance, the Banker initially identified with the culture at the firm he joined:
“It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by clients.”
Ultimately, though, 12-years into his employment, he realized that the firm had “veered so far from the place” he joined, that he could no longer say he identified “with what it stands for.” He no longer had “the pride, or the belief.”
How does this happen? Very easily, I’m afraid. When management loses sight of the difference they make in their customers’ lives (their purpose!), or fails to uphold the values their company espouses–day-in, and day-out–the very identity of an organization begins to dilute. And the people within that organization can not possibly perform at peak levels of performance and engagement.
In the end, it is what leaders talk about, reinforce and DO that influences how others really understand the culture. In the last paragraph of the letter, the Banker compelled his former employer to “get the culture right again, so people want to work here for the right reasons.” It’s reasonably simple: Define the culture you want; identify the workplace behaviors that will help you get there; train to expectations (with skill development); and LIVE the plan.
And, if you’re lucky enough, you won’t have an employee resign on the pages of the New York Times. Ouch.
Mar 15 2016
Death of The Sales Close
While observing a client company run a “Closing Skills” workshop of theirs, the following Close attempts were overheard:
“Can we agree…”
“Would you agree…”
“Is there anything holding you back from using my product…”
“Can you see how…”
“Since they’ve had such success, would you commit to…”
“Based on our conversation, I’d recommend that you…”
“Now that you’ve had success, I’d recommend that you…Does that sound right to you?”
“Do you feel the product meets everything we discussed? Is there anything missing?”
“I have one recommendation…”
“Does that sound like you’d want to use (my product)? Does that make sense?”
“Would you admit there’s an opportunity to…”
“With that said–over the next week–how many can you try?”
“Can you see that by following our information, we deliver a…”
If I put myself in the shoes of the customers who would be hearing these Closes…I have to admit—I wouldn’t like it. I think the overall idea that someone would be getting me to “agree”—or acquiesce—to what they want me to do…would be problematic. Maybe I’m too independent…place too much value in the conviction and wisdom of my own thoughts/ideas/solutions…or, perhaps I simply don’t like the idea of feeling that I surrendered to the other person’s solution (or had to “admit” they were right). Maybe I need to talk to a professional about this…
But—maybe there’s something here to really think about: Maybe the time has come to re-examine—if not kill—the traditional Close. The Close in which the seller identifies a path forward, and seeks to gain a “tangible commitment” from the buyer. Conventional Wisdom has held—and traditional sales training has supported—that the seller is somehow best suited for ensuring that some form of a commitment to an action on the part of the buyer is achieved. Thus, it is usually the seller who proposes a given solution, and seeks to get the buyer to agree/commit to it.
Perhaps the seller should not do all the heavy-lifting during the Close. There seem to be a few compelling downsides to the seller coming up with the Close’s solution:
Ultimately, there is greater opportunity for sales professionals to collaborate with customers on what “next steps” might be possible at the end of a sales call. By having ownership in the development of the action item, the buyer will be more likely to carry through with the action. In this approach, the role of the seller is more focused on facilitating dialogue and process—and less on “convincing” the buyer to agree. All mourn the death of the old-school, one-way Close…It’s time to give Sales Professionals some new tools to produce more effective and more collaborative Closes!