Do You Have a Newsworthy Culture?

Businessman hands are holding the touch screen device with business news on screenImagine waking up one morning and strolling into the kitchen to collect your steaming coffee. You scan your favorite news feeds and BAMM – your company is in every business headline!

“Shares Tumble Amid Allegations Employees Broke The Law”

“Spotlight On _______ Selling Tactics Threatens To Unravel Its Brand”

“Consumer Watchdog Probes Canadian Industry After ______ Allegations”

This was the case recently for all employees at one of Canada’s top banks, the TD Bank. According to a CBC investigative report, employees felt pressured to sell products and services even when customers didn’t need them. Coming on the heels of the Wells Fargo scandal where employees falsified customer accounts, it appeared that another bank might have crossed the line.

It’s not the quotas

At the crux of the matter is the practice of sales quotas and targets. Banks are not alone in giving employees sales goals, and in fact, it’s quite common for sales people’s remuneration to be based on the achievement of these objectives. So how did things go off the rails at TD Bank?

According to Tom Stoyan, Coaching and Sales Institute founder, it’s not the quotas it’s the management of the quotas that’s the problem. Every business needs sales in order to grow and survive. And most people need three things to do their job effectively. They need support, structure and challenge.  Targets and objectives present the challenge that help motivate employees in their day-to-day work.

Where managers need to focus

The best sales organizations are clear about what selling is in their organization. They have a well-articulated sales process not only for the sales person, but also for the customer. And finally, they ensure that their employees have the right tools to do their job.

CBE is a global provider of call center solutions specializing in A/R collections and debt management. A leader within the organization, Harley Wilson, was faced with the opportunity to turn around a poor performing division. Inspired by David Marquet’s book Turn the Ship Around, Harley decided to abandon the current top-down management style and substitute it with an empowered employee focus.

Harley chose to focus the group not on quotas, but on productivity. As his managers came forward with their intentions to improve employee performance, they began to develop a leadership mindset. They were so busy working the productivity angle that the collection targets took a back seat. At the end of the year, when they looked at the bonus calculations they had to take a second look just to make sure they had it right. The result? They had improved their productivity by 388%!

The manager’s real role

Sales strategist, Lisa Leitch, believes that one of the key ways to build customer loyalty is for sales organizations to take a consultative approach. This requires managers to hire people who not only have sales skills but also value working in a consultative and collaborative way. These sales people see their primary role as helping customers with their buying decisions, not meeting company sales targets.

In addition, managers need to be advocates and coaches providing training and reinforcement of skills and behavior that aligns with a consultative philosophy. This coaching skill will become even more critical as millennials move more fully into the workplace. They are used to getting ongoing feedback and will continue to demand it.

Mis-aligned subcultures

TD bank lists delivering legendary customer experiences as their first guiding principle and asks their leaders to demonstrate unwavering integrity. So is this true or are they just paying lip service? TD CEO Bharat Masrani denied that the bank has a widespread problem with aggressive sales tactics. The challenge for Masrani is that the larger the company, the more complex it becomes to manage the culture. Leaders of divisions, branches or business units all influence and impact the culture of those working around them.

If you want to avoid the occurrence of mis-aligned subcultures, it’s critical to monitor your culture within the organization. A key best practice in managing your culture is to include demographic cuts in your culture assessments. This will help flush out the areas that require more attention. Your action steps can then be tailored to address a specific issue.

Your sales groups represent your company. They are a critical customer touch point. Have you checked your sales process and the management of your sales teams lately? Could you have pockets of unhealthy subcultures? Don’t let the headlines of tomorrow’s newspaper be the call to action.

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