Published by : Frederic Lucas
Is it easier to change a company's sales culture when sales are going well, or on the contrary, when they are going badly? Actually, this is not the right question, because working on the sales culture will never be easy, whatever the conditions of the company and the market.
The real question to ask is whether there is a more appropriate time to make a sales transformation, so that the company can gain the maximum benefit from it, both quantitatively and qualitatively.
When sales are going well... you must avoid the traps!
The main issue, when sales are good, is that there is no real motivation to make changes. If the company grows and makes money... what's the problem?
In many cases, growing leads to disorganization, which can be a source of problems. Some leaders are able to identify a structural deficiency and understand that they need to rectify the problem in order to continue to grow more efficiently. But, for the lack of immediate incentives, most of them show complacency by using this positive context as an excuse not to improve their sales culture.
The main argument leaders make in this situation is that the present way of doing things works well because it generates results. But will the company be able to adapt its sales structure, transform and improve before growth peaks and starts to stagnate? That's where the trap is, because it's a short- to medium-term vision at most.
Reinventing yourself when the sales are down
On the contrary, when processes do not function well, there is often more receptiveness to change. It is usually in a context where sales are going badly that managers are ready to take the necessary means to change.
This situation often occurs after a more or less long period of test and error, associated with costs that can be significant. Indeed, when sales have been going bad for some time, there is a tendency to look for a method that will bring quick gains. After a year or two, or even more, the company realizes that it has tried all the easy solutions with no results. Managers are then more inclined to adopt a more durable solution that will really get to the bottom of the problem.
Two different issues based on the fear of change
When sales go bad, there can be a strong sentiment of fear among the management team, who are afraid of accentuating the problems with new changes. This feeling of insecurity can also affect the morale of the sales team. In theory, there is therefore more openness, but decisions are driven by fear.
On the other hand, in a context where sales are going well, there is a fear that change will undermine a successful formula. Indeed, why fix something that doesn't seem broken?
Thus, it is clear that there is no better context than the other. The two situations present different challenges. The key element is always the state of mind.
Beyond the sales situation, any transformation is difficult.It implies a fundamental change in the way things are done. To grow the company, you have to go into a proactive mode and make real gains, rather than simply acting defensively.
These changes rest on the shoulders of the business leader, who will necessarily have questions, reluctance and reservations. This will be an opportunity for him to assume his role as a leader and visionary to guide his organization and take it to where it needs to go to evolve.
Change the culture of the company and do it now
Companies deal with different sales contexts. However, all those that are stagnant and do not evolve for a long period of time, find themselves overwhelmed. They must evolve at an accelerated pace to try to make up for lost time.
Maintaining the status quo? Give in, or even back away from resistance? Rule with a fear of moving, disturbing or disrupting? All these attitudes ultimately do not improve anything. One question must be at the center of reflection: how to make the best decisions for the well-being of the organization and how to implement them despite the challenges?
Adopting a bold, forward-looking strategy
When making the decision to change the sales culture, you need to think in the long term. Depending on the case, you may not necessarily establish an overall corporate vision, but it is absolutely necessary to do it for the sales department. This choice is important to be able to make the right changes.
- Where is the company headed?
- In two or three years, where will sales be?
- How can we proactively adapt to changes in the industry?
One of the difficulties in moving forward with transformation is the tendency to oppose the old vision to the new one. When sales are going well, the idea of a winning formula that seems to work and generate growth holds us back. We consciously know that we need to move our organization to something else, but we can't completely cut the strings with the old vision, since it brings results and money. Even in a difficult sales environment, we sometimes see a return to old ways rather than moving towards new, more relevant solutions.
The strategic role of the leader
Will organizations that are doing well be able to make the necessary changes now, without waiting for something to go wrong? That is really the most important challenge!
To make these changes, the leader must have an informed vision and develop a clear strategy. He must be able to implement it, even when it is not a consensus. Most importantly, he must hold the organization accountable for the changes it needs to make, regardless of the current state of sales.
One day or another, the favorable context will inevitably change; it's the law of cycles. Only leaders who have proactively worked on their sales culture will be able to seize these opportunities instead of simply fighting for survival.