Is your sales team prepared to win and achieve their sales goals today? Do your salespeople consistently exhibit the discipline to drive profitable sales growth? Do your salespeople clearly understand your expectations and they are accountable to them? One way to insure your sales team breaks the growing global trend of sales teams not achieving sales growth goals is to fix broken windows in your sales organization. In this post we will discuss where to look for broken windows that are hurting your sales performance.
I am very thankful to a number of my mentors over the years. They taught me how to capture and leverage the voice of the customer and how to serve customers by providing industry insights and best practices to improve their bottom line. One mentor taught me how to listen, actively listen for unresolved problems. Mentors help salespeople understand the discipline required to drive profitable sales growth and to be accountable for key behaviors that if performed consistently will drive profitable sales growth. Having disciple and being accountable is not about doing 1,000’s of things perfectly. Being accountable and having discipline is about is having clear goals and expectations on how you will achieve those goals. As the sales leader it is about inspecting what you expect and understanding the behaviors and attitudes to support key goals.
I am very proud of my children. My dream for my children was I would grow a business and give it to them one day to run. In running the business they would learn the life lessons I experienced and have financial freedom. I discovered about 15 years ago this was only my dream. My children had much different plans. My daughter became an amazing artist and now is the social media marketing manager for a company driving 3-5 times the traffic to their trade events and website leveraging her artistic skills creating innovative content. My son has a burning desire to serve and protect others and a police officer.
Over the holidays my son and I were talking and he shared something called “Broken Window Theory” and I thought it was fascinating. Broken window theory suggests that visible signs of crime like cars stripped and up on blocks in the street, street signs missing, traffic lights not working, people consuming alcohol in public and other anti- social behaviors create an environment for more crime and more serious crimes. The theory suggests that policing methods that target minor crimes such as vandalism, public drinking and others create an atmosphere of order and lawfulness, thereby preventing more serious crimes.
In the 1969 a psychologist named Philip Zinbardo from Stanford ran an experiment. He parked a car with no license plates in two neighborhoods. One that was run down, broken windows and signs of crime and one in an affluent neighborhood in Palo Alto California. The car parked in the run down neighborhood was vandalized within 10 minutes. Next he smashed the front window and what he observed surprised him. Others in the neighborhood with vandalism and other crimes joined in and within 24 hours the entire car was stripped to the frame. Who did the vandalizing is what was disturbing: It was respectable adults in the community often with their children not …street gangs.
The car in Palo Alto remained untouched.
The findings from the study?
Unintended behavior leads to a breakdown of community controls
One broken window leads to many if left unaddressed
Disorders drives fear and withdraw from community laws and norms
Even the best citizens in a community can start bad behaviors if the behaviors are left unchecked
My son has been a police officer in a large city now for a number of years. He has personally experienced how policing and correcting what seems like minor misdemeanor crimes helps bring a neighborhood back to life. He has seen the impact having the discipline to enforce common community norms and expectations that support a safe and prosperous community and how this reduces crime significantly.
“Ok Mark, this is all interesting … but how does this apply to driving profitable sales increases year over year?”
I thought you would never ask!
How many broken windows exist in your company’s sales organization?
Do you know where to look?
The good news is you have a good smart team and there are many things about your company you and your team should be proud of. When I did business development consulting work I asked a lot of questions and looked for broken windows that are signs of much bigger sales problems to be solved. It is not unusual for my past clients to not even see the broken windows they walk by each day. Many broken windows have been broken for years and they became “ how we do things around here”. New team members will see them immediately but if they want to survive they learn to look the other way. Instead of repairing the broken windows teams try to just cover them up.
Let me help you see the broken windows that I have seen because you too may have grown accustomed to seeing them and may walk by them everyday and they are hurting your business development and sales growth efforts…
Majority of salesperson’s time spent in non-sales activities
“Hi how are you meetings” …Salespeople bringing donuts to their distributors with no other business reason for the visit, no one at the distributor even knew you were coming
Not being properly groomed
Company car dirty inside and out
Not making eye contact with customers in meetings
Sales people not taking notes in meetings
Salespeople not having a pen visiting a customer job site and having to “remember” the requirements
No pre-call plans
No CRM entry for future meetings or past meeting notes
Outdated company brochures in sales associate’s vehicles
Damaged and stained brochures from not being properly stored used in customer presentations
Poor or no customer follow up
Not following up on leads provided, QDD disorder
Salespeople leaving sales training to make/ take phone calls
Customer email not responded to in 24 hours
Salespeople working on laptops in meetings and not paying attention
Missing team weekly meetings
Salespeople openly criticizing others on sales team, others on other teams ( not constructive criticism )
Not responding top your email of voicemail in 48 hours if you asked them to
No plan to achieve their sales goals
Showing up late to weekly meetings
Salespeople playing feature and benefit bingo
Not being prepared for weekly meetings
No cadence for how often they visit with each customer
Not completing expense reports timely
Poor interpersonal exchanges with team members from other business groups
Talking too much in meetings with customers
Salespeople who have never been trained in sales (product-yes, sales-no)
Not understanding their market or market language
No dollar value in CRM for new opportunities identified
Not understanding how your product or service impacts your customers’ bottom line
Not qualifying potential customers
Salespeople seen as just another rep not a trusted advisor
Salespeople not spending the majority of their time in sales behaviors
Not updating sales stage in CRM
Asking poor questions in meetings
Poor listening, talking over customers
Selling on price not value
No ideal customer profile so everyone could be a customer
Company vehicle not maintained
Poor to no relationships at key customers
Key account budgets/goals… but no strategic growth plans on how to achieve them
Only knowing the buyers at key accounts no relationship with other influencers
Sales pipeline bucket not a funnel
Poor new product sales
Poor sales customer visit trip planning (more time driving and flying than in front of customers)
Salespeople staying at very expensive hotels
Salespeople submitting very expensive dinners without customers
If you see some of the above you have broken windows that need to be repaired before your team can experience explosive sales growth.
The above are some broken windows I have observed but there are plenty more I am sure.
How about you…
What broken windows have you observed in your sales teams that are negatively impacting your profitable growth plans?
Do you have associates in key sales leadership roles that have not been trained to lead salespeople?
Are their politically incorrect secrets that your salespeople know but are afraid to discuss?
If we allow broken windows in how we sell they hurt our ability to drive profitable sales growth and increase shareholder value. We are not saying everyone has to be perfect and 1,000’s of things. What we are saying is we need discipline and accountability in our sales teams. As the leader you need to set the expectation and insure compliance. If you observe a behavior that is not consistent with what your team has identified as your core values you must be safe to address it and correct it. If not the little broken windows become chaos and good team members in your sales community will start behaving in ways counter to driving profitable growth.
In our next post we will discuss common marketing broken windows to look for and repair.