As a marketing/sales consultant I have had the incredible honor of seeing over 1500 businesses’ internal makings.
This includes how they manage fixed and variable expenses, their employees, guarantee profit margins, project market variables, plan for threats/opportunities etc. Bottom line? How they make money, and lose money. It has been a fascinating ride working alongside such brilliant human beings!
My niche in all this, has been the ability to help initiate and cultivate a deeper sales culture.
It’s in my core! I love sales. I’ve always been a rain maker. I remember my father telling me at a very young age (7 years old I think), “Gerald, if bullsh*t were music, you would have a brass band!” I had no idea what the heck he was talking about, only that I was different from him, a WWII man’s man, that worked 1 job for 40 years but I soon learned what he meant.
Sales have always been important to me. Not to ruffle my “operations conscious” peers, but I must say, it’s the most important entity in any business. Period! Because without it, nothing moves!
When I help make a company’s sales go up, it is much easier for me, as a consultant, to identify the “gaps” or weaknesses in the system. IE, Fulfillment, employee engagement, corporate support, HR, etc. Thus the expression “Sales cure all ills” comes into play.
The nature of this blog is to try and articulate a few of the familiar barriers that I have discovered in ALL of these businesses. One of which is FEAR and SHAME. It’s insidious. It lurks in the cracks and cranny of every business. Some deeper than others. It is usually the culprit behind a paralyzed culture. (Read Brene Brown’s 12 years study, Daring Bravely for more insight)
You see, it doesn’t matter if you have a multi-million dollar award winning marketing program set up, it won’t get you the results you want if your employees are scared little shame sponges.
Or don’t know what the plan is, or are NOT trained properly to do what you are asking, let alone “know” what’s in it for them, I have seen this over and over. Companies trying to “buy” their customers and/or market share. It just doesn’t work or sustain success in the long haul.
It’s more productive to go to the root of the problem! Fear and Shame have a way of keeping employees small. Successful companies find the courage to do the hard work to help their employees find their voice. Instead of the culture that incubates the belief that it is safer to not “risk” having an opinion, you know what I mean maybe they witnessed their peers get their heads taken off because they gave input. All while the company is asking for feedback. That is insanity!
The past 10 years I have found myself “coaching” my clients more and more around this issue. The world of professional business coaching was calling me it became increasingly apparent to me that this ingredient was needed for the success of my clients. To HELP them step through the fear of change, to address the shadows they can’t see, and to articulate what they want.
Another common theme with all of these companies I’ve worked with over the years has been the issue of trust. Without trust, it is very difficult to get your employees to “buy in” to a vision or plan.I have found Patrick Lencioni’s book “5 Dysfunctions of a Team” to be the easiest tool to help crack open this problem. Vulnerability based trust opens the door for healthy conflict. Healthy conflict eliminates artificial harmony and gets commitment out of your staff. When your employees “commit” to the plan you can hold them accountable. And when your employees are accountable true attention to results occur.
I have clients that want me to transform their leaders/managers/employees. In essence help change their culture. As you know the culture is the “belief system” of their employees. Unfortunately, it takes 3 to 7 years to change that culture. It’s a huge commitment. But I have seen it work, the success-filled companies versus the not so hot ones. The difference being, the employees that took ownership of their work”¦Bought in.
One last common correlation that I want to share, the successful companies believe that “being” in business IS FUN! Even when it’s not going according to plan. I mean really, make it fun! After all, what’s the alternative?
We get to get up every morning and thank our Creator for giving us another day to play. We get to choose what we want”¦To make an impact”¦And to set out to change the world.
How cool is that?