4 Signs Your Sales Culture Is Stuck in Mediocrity

CEOs frequently tell us that they want to shake things up within their sales force — “Business is good, but things could be better.” They recognize growth means change and this realization sparks a genuine desire to act.

And when the executive team meets to develop their action plan for change, they often conclude that an outside firm may offer a fresh perspective. But, when confronted with what it takes to transform to produce the desired results, they get cold feet. They decide against upsetting the current culture and choose to maintain the status quo.

Having experienced a few of these “false start” engagements over the past 10 years, my position has moved from one of frustration to intrigue…

  • Why do these organizations desire change but lack the motivation and commitment to see it through?
  • What is the pattern or consistent cause that produces this outcome?
  • What are the signs a sales culture may be stuck in mediocrity?

And this is what I found…

Change doesn’t come easy

You recognize your organization needs to implement changes to get sales to the next level. However, getting buy-in and motivating others to act seems virtually impossible.

Typically, this is an issue with the culture of the organization. The belief is things have been done a certain way for so long and everyone is comfortable with the process, so why change? And even though it’s no longer effective and not producing the desired results, the feeling is — “If it worked at some point, it will continue to work.”

Transforming the culture of an organization to become one that values innovation is not easy; it requires understanding, commitment, and tools. But if change is necessary to attain your goals, it’s worth the investment of time and resources.

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Frequent false starts

Worse than not trying at all is the “false start”. Even before you start getting a new initiative off the ground, you quit.

You had great intentions, but once again, the fear of change turned into doubt. That uncertainty caused you to abandon what could have been a great program and instead, you diverted back to what’s comfortable.

Desire, commitment and motivation must be at the heart of the intent to change or true improvements to your sales operations will never come to fruition. If you are feeling overwhelmed or hesitant, consider the following:

  • What is the potential loss associated with keeping things the way they are?
  • Can you reach your sales goals if you stay the course?
  • Will you remain competitive?

Start small, build a plan, set realistic goals — and most importantly — see them through. A few small wins in the beginning will provide motivation and create a ‘can do’ attitude to help change minds of non-believers.

Leadership is comfortable

To drive growth and implement changes, leadership must be the catalyst. To identify weaknesses that are impacting the bottom line, it’s important to begin with an honest assessment of the effectiveness of your current capabilities. This can be extremely difficult if this assessment has the potential to expose limitations in your sales leadership; specifically, tenured executives who may not see the benefits of a shakeup.

Take inventory to determine who’s working to help achieve the organization’s goals and who’s there to simply serve their own needs. Put measures in place that promote healthy competition and a culture that is continuously looking to improve. There is no room for complacency in sales.

Growth is stagnant

A tell-tale sign that mediocrity has crept into your sales culture is a lack of growth. As if that’s not bad enough, it’s typically followed by a lack of urgency. Stagnant growth is generally the result of underlying issues related to outdated compensation plans, unclear sales goals, a lead generation system that has begun to dry up, and/or an inability to evolve to meet the needs of today’s buyer. Identify potential problems before they impact your bottom line, keep a finger on the pulse of your sales force, and be proactive when it comes to implementing changes.

Wondering how to pull your sales team out of mediocrity? Or looking to take proactive measures to avoid a future slump? Begin with a complete analysis of your sales capabilities, systems, processes and overall effectiveness. Pinpoint what actions you can take now to improve sales performance and accelerate your path to success.

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