Small Business Owners’ Resistance to Change Is Slowly Killing Them

Small Business resistance to changeWe live in economic times where each industry segment can have literally hundreds of companies that could be considered direct competition, all vying for the same business. This increased competition has put significant pressure on businesses to perform like they never have before in order to just stay afloat. Unfortunately, we are finding businesses that were once successful now struggling, and there is an ever increasing gap between those that are successful and those that are now forming. The retail industry is almost a perfect example of what is happening across all industries. Long-time titans of industry such as Sears, Toys R Us and countless others are closing locations or declaring bankruptcy. In contrast, you have others such as Target and Best Buy seeing some of their best success in their recent history. There are many theories and even some very specific root causes that led to the demise of these organizations; however, we believe there is one fundamental element they all have in common: resistance to change. Over the years, we’ve dealt with thousands of businesses of all shapes and sizes, and overwhelmingly, we notice businesses that continue to struggle. The root of the issue is leadership that is resistant to change… This is even more apparent in the small business segment. We find that most small businesses are still owner- or founder-operated, and as a result they have substantially more emotional investment built into the business. This translates to emotion-based business decisions as opposed to business-led decisions, typically resulting in significant resistance to change.

What we find more interesting is that the structure of a small business gives it a huge competitive advantage over the larger businesses in the very same segments. Larger businesses have significantly more structure in place with countless layers of red-tape, which makes getting changes made the equivalent of getting congress to pass a new bill. Another analogy would be the difference between turning an aircraft carrier vs. a speedboat…  BUT due to the emotional attachment, or just straight up resistance to change within small businesses, we find that implementing change can be equally as—if not more—challenging than their larger counterparts. This is why so many businesses are struggling in today’s economic times… Most small business leaders have the best intentions in mind and may not even be aware of their inability to implement change and its direct effect on the businesses.  All is not lost, as again, with small businesses we find that one of their greatest strengths is their ability to be agile and make quick decisions… Before someone can change, they must first be able to identify that they have a problem… Here are the most frequent areas of resistance we come up against:

This is how we’ve been doing it for years – We constantly run up against this hurdle, and the older the business, the more they fall back on this… they are relying on tactics that once helped their businesses become extremely successful, but over time those activities may not be as successful as they once were. However, because of their prior success, we find that leadership is resistant to moving away due to fear of abandoning what they believe to be a successful tactic.

That’s too new / we don’t understand it – Some struggle with new concepts or something that they just do not understand. As a result, they overcomplicate the process by asking their teams to spend a significant amount preparing information and analysis to help leadership understand the nature of the tactic better… This typically takes untold amounts of time, and in some cases leads to decisions that are put off too long.

It takes time – Many small business leaders believe they are doing their teams a favor by implementing a new strategy over time. This results in something that could essentially be addressed directly and within days, taking months if not years of implementation. Consequently, valuable time is lost on the process, along with a significant competitive advantage loss.

We’ll address this next year – We’ve lost count to how many times leadership has “kicked the can down the road” on an idea because they either wanted to take more time to educate themselves or they were just “too busy” to address it now… Sure, everyone is busy, however when it comes to your business, the time is now to seize the moment. In the business environment of today, business is extremely competitive, and any missed opportunity to gain a competitive advantage, allows your competition to move that far ahead of you.

Jim’s not going to like this change – One of the single greatest things about small businesses is that some of us have employees that have been with us for so long that they have practically become family. This is something we all strive for with our business environments as it boosts morale, increasing overall productivity within the team and just generally makes the workplace a better place to be. However, this can also be a huge challenge as many hold off on implementing changes for fear of how their longtime employee may accept the change. As a result, they miss out on competitive advantages that end up hurting the business in the long run.

Jim’s a bottleneck – A bit of a continuation of the above, we sometimes find that those long-term employees that we love can be straight-up bottlenecks for getting things done. As previously stated, many are fearful of implementing change to correct that employee’s working situations, purely because of the relationships that have been built.

We can’t let Jim go ­– Again, a continuation of the previous two bullets and quite honestly one of the hardest to address… Sometimes we become such close friends with our employees that we are emotionally invested in their personal wellbeing. This can be great, but there are times when these employees will take advantage of the situation and frankly let their work slip and become under-performers. As a direct result, the business takes a performance and revenue hit. Now, we are firm believers of giving employees as much opportunity to turn around their behavior, however there are going to be times where you need to make these tough business decisions in order for the business to strive and become successful once again.

The competitive and technological landscape in today’s economy is changing faster than it ever has before, which means that strategies and tactics that were once successful, may no longer be affective… In order for a business to be successful and maintain its competitive advantage, it needs to be constantly on the hunt for new areas of improvement. We use the term “Continuous Improvement,” and if you don’t strive for it, your general resistance to change will slowly kill your business.

Additional Tip: One tip that we always love to share when dealing with leadership that is adverse to change is the “Fail Fast” methodology… The fail fast methodology is essentially a strategy of implementing a virtual “fence” around ideas for change. Fences are metrics which define success for the change along with an allocated timetable of typically a few weeks or months depending on the nature of the changes being implemented. This allows your team to adopt a change and regularly check in against these success metrics as a gut check on progress. As time progresses, you can reflect against those success metrics and work to tweak the program to improve performance. However, if time continues to show little to no success, you pull the plug and walk away… Time and time again, we see too much time and money wasted chasing down a bad idea and working to make it successful, when in the end, not all good ideas will be successful. This methodology provides a happy medium of implementing change or working out new ideas without losing too much time and money in the process.

 

Why Email Marketing is Broken, and How To Fix It

Email is brokenEmail marketing is broken but still remains a strong communication channel… Most business professionals spend an unprecedented amount of time per day (28% of the week to be exact) chained to their inboxes responding to countless amounts of email! This would make one think: if you have such a captive audience, then why is email marketing so broken? Well, it isn’t broken; it’s the way the majority of businesses structure their messages that makes it broken.

When you break down the messages from most email marketing campaigns, they fundamentally fall into a few categorical buckets, but they tend to focus on one thing: the sender of the message and not the receiver. Let’s dive in a little deeper on this. Most campaigns can fall under the following buckets: deals, product catalogues, and the super generic sales message. As a bit of an exercise, go into your inbox and find the last ten or twenty marketing messages and you’ll find that they fall into one of those few categories. You’ll find subject lines similar to the following: “Final days To Save 20%”, “Special Offer”, “Register for this event”, or the ever so cleaver “Did you see my last email message?” and “Can we talk at 3pm?”… In this day and age, we are truly amazed that any of these messages even work at all…

I’m going to personally pick on Lyft as an example. Personally, I use Uber, but once—and only once—I had to use Lyft. And as a result, every few days they hit my inbox with a new “compelling” marketing message… but are they really “compelling”? For starters, you’ll see on March 14th, 17th, 31st, and April 4th, their key message was 10% off, with three emails entitled “Ends Soon” with a date of April 9th. Seems compelling right? Well, not so much… On the 10th of April, only one day after that 9th deadline, they hit me with a 25% off special. As you can see from the screenshot below, every single message over the period of four months is essentially the same! I’m using Lyft as an example, though they are certainly not alone; I have an untold number of businesses that use the very same tactic, which makes those “compelling offers” not so compelling…

Lyft Marketing Campaign

This is essentially why email marketing is broken for so many today. The majority of campaigns focus on the great deal, showcasing a product, or those very witty generic sales emails (that quite honestly are not so witty). The only time these messages happen to work is when you happen to catch someone right about to make a purchase where saving 25% would be valuable. Otherwise, your emails are getting deleted or unsubscribed the minute they hit their inbox.

To unlock the secret of email marketing, you need to stop thinking about traditional email marketing and the idea of needing to generate sales with every message… There is a rule of thumb in sales that four out of every five touches should be non-sales related. This essentially means that the majority of your outreaches to a prospect or customer should be adding some type of value to them beyond asking for a sale (and, no, 25% off messages are not adding any real value to them). Translated into email marketing, that means that at least four out of every five campaigns should be non-sales related… When you can fundamentally make this shift as an organization, you’ll find that not only do you stop people from unsubscribing or deleting your emails, but people actually become engaged with your campaigns. As an example, let’s pick on Lyft once again… What if instead of constantly bombarding their prospects and customers with yet another 10 or 25% off special, they found more creative messaging. As a consumer, topics that would get me to at least open the email would be something like: “Top 10 Tips for Keeping Safe While Using Ride Sharing Apps”, “Did You Know Ride Sharing Costs x% Less than Traditional Cabs?”, “How to Use Ride Share to Plan Your Next Trip”, “The Top 10 Things Your Lyft Driver Would Like You to Know”, “Legislation is Trying to Kill Ride Share. Here is How You Can Fight Back”, “The Top 5 Reasons to Ride with Lyft over Uber”… These are just a few messages that literally took me about five minutes to think up and would compel me to at least open the email… Now, I only pick on Lyft because I am a fan of Ride Share but use their competitor, Uber, and through their marketing communications, Lyft has given me zero compelling reasons to shift.

Therein lies the secret of email marketing: don’t make the message about you, make it about your customer. And again, no, a 25% off promotion is not a customer-centric message. The core of successful marketing campaigns is to find ways to continuously engage your prospects and customers by finding ways to add value to their lives. Topics that are informative and educational are exponentially more successful than your more traditional methods. There is also an interesting byproduct of utilizing email marketing in this nature, and that is creating a more informed and educated buyer… These types of buyers tend to take less time in the decision-making process and end up becoming more successful customers who are more likely to buy again, renew, or refer additional business. Email marketing done right can completely change how you function as a business…

Stuck on ideas for content for email campaigns? Here are a few tips:

  • Recent industry news
  • Addressing questions about the industry
  • Addressing frequent sales or support questions
  • Addressing legislation questions
  • Sharing an interesting use-case for your solution
  • Sharing cost of process savings stories
  • Customer testimonials

When it really comes down to it, almost anything directly or tangentially related to your company, industry, or solution are all areas that can be explored more to help keep your clients and prospects engaged via email. Once you start a strong stream of educational and informative content, it doesn’t hurt to drop in a sales-related email from time to time… Once people begin to trust your email brand, those 25% off offers will then become more valuable over time…. Finally, if you’re struggling on what messages work best, you can always address that via AB Testing which we discussed in another article. Finally, if you need assistance tackling this change of marketing methodology, you can always contact 3SixtySMB directly at 3SixtySMB@3SixtySMB.com.

 

Leadership and the impact of not doing what you say

Impact of LeadershipTrust and respect are at the core of all truly great leaders. A team that trusts and respects their leader will follow them into any battle and will fight until the bitter end without question or hesitation… When a leader loses the trust and respect of their team, the structure of the team falls apart and failure is all but eminent. This concept seems to be lost with many leaders in government and business today, and as a result, trust in government is at an all-time low, and employees are no longer sticking around organizations for decades at a time with the average tenure of employees 25 to 34 years old is only 2.8 years. There are many factors that lead to lack of trust within leadership, however one of the fastest ways to guarantee a loss of trust is speaking without action.

Whether it is a politician running for office, a corporate executive speaking at an annual kick-off conference, or a one-on-one meeting with a direct manager, we’ve all had the pleasure of being a part of these meetings and listening to pontifications about a bright future and actions “they” plan to take. It all sounds great, right? Well, not so much. Fast forward a few weeks or months later where absolutely nothing has happened, and you’ll notice that no one wants a talking head for their leader; nothing is more frustrating than following the conviction and direction of a leader, only to be left disappointed due to their inability to take action. This happens day in and day out across the scope of leadership of all levels, and it is no wonder why confidence in leadership is at an all-time low. This is even truer in business today. Let us share a scenario…. You’re in a direct manager’s office during a one-on-one meeting, and they begin to tell you about their plan for you: more responsibility, higher pay, and fixing operational roadblocks. You leave the meeting invigorated and ready to put forth 110% effort into your job. Only a few weeks or months later, absolutely nothing has happened with the exception of more promises of a bright future. Over time, your trust in that manager’s ability to produce actual results diminishes, and that 110% effort turns into 90%, 80%, and then 50%… However, it can go even deeper than a manager’s pontification about a bright future. Sometimes it breaks down to the simplest request, such as fixing an HR issue like payroll.

As an example, say an employee asks their manager to fix a small payroll issue. As managers, we have so many items on our plates, and that request simply gets forgotten. At the end of the day, it is only a small payroll issue and there are so many other bigger fires to put out. No big deal, right? Well, what if that very same employee was having personal financial hardships at home and that “small” issue for them actually meant the difference in their ability to seek medical care, take a vacation, pay for college, or any other number of unknown issues to you? Well, your inability to take action around their “small” payroll issue just diminished their perspective of you as a leader. You can guarantee that they will not be putting forward 110% effort for “you” anymore. Heck, they might even start thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence and begin looking for employment elsewhere, where the money and leadership structure looks better. Whether it is big or small items, it is up to you, leadership, to do all that is humanly possible to take action on promises made to your team or face them losing confidence in you.

At the end of the day, most leaders truly do have the best intentions in mind, and with so many items on their plates, they may not even realize that they had promised items but failed to take action. Trust me, I’ve known some great people that have had a tendency to do this without knowing; however, going unchecked has the consequences of losing the confidence of your team. Therein lies the challenge of leadership, whether you knowingly did not take action on an item or simply just forgot, your employees will never tell you when you’ve wronged them and lost their confidence. All is not lost—there a few things to keep an eye out for that may be signs that you are losing the confidence of your team:

  • Average tenure has declined – Five years ago, the average tenure of your team was five to ten years. However, recently, people have been only sticking around for two or three years. This could be a major red flag, as we all know people typically do not leave jobs they are happy with. Sure, there are many items that can contribute to this drop in tenure; however, at the core is their ability to trust in leadership’s ability to affect change for the better.
  • Glassdoor ratings have dropped – Glassdoor has become a game changer for taking a deep look inside the soul of a business. Current and former employees use Glassdoor to provide their own approval rating of leadership, reviews of their experiences, and even recommendations for leadership. Nothing will provide more insight to how you are performing as a leader than spending time reviewing Glassdoor for your business. One word of caution: people can be brutally honest in these reviews and they can be hard to read. However, this is the way people truly think about your company and how you lead. Use these reviews to find ways to improve yourself.
  • Internal NPS polling or 360 reviews are negative – When looking at Glassdoor, we do find that the majority of reviews tend to be from employees after they’ve left the organization. For them and many, it is too late to fix the issue. Another successful approach is around creating an internal NPS polling or 360 review system that is anonymous and allows employees to provide feedback in real-time. Again, this could be something that is hard to digest, as some can and will be fairly harsh. BUT again, this is valuable information to understand how you can change to be a better leader.
  • Frequent faces are no longer frequent – Human nature is to avoid what is uncomfortable. When your team no longer seeks you out for council or even just friendly discussions, they could be actively avoiding you. This is a sign that something may be amiss.
  • You receive more than one email per issue – Refer back to the payroll example used above. Did that person ask you once and wait for your response, or did they message you multiple times on the same items? Trusting people will trust in your ability to get something done and leave you to the task. However, untrusting people tend to want frequent updates to ensure you are moving forward with the various items.
  • Employees have become 9 – 5 – I’ve personally seen this flip happen almost overnight. Some employees tend to work all hours of the day; they are first in the office and last to leave, responding to emails at all hours of the night. Then all of a sudden, they are out the door the minute the clock hits five and almost never respond to emails during off hours. This could be a sign that something is amiss with their attitude towards the business.

Again, we completely agree that leadership inaction could be one of many items that could lead to tarnished employee confidence. However, as leaders, it is up to us to always find ways to improve ourselves, ensuring that our team members do not lose that confidence. The hard part is that they will never tell us to our faces when we’ve done them wrong. We have to read all the signs and piece the puzzle together ourselves. Unfortunately, inaction is one of the fastest ways to lose the trust and respect of our team, and it is something we always need to be conscious of…

I’ll share one example of executive leadership doing this right: HubSpot… HubSpot as an organization has done a lot of things right; they have a great model, great team, great vision, and great culture, and anyone can learn a thing or two from them. This stems from their leadership team of Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah… They have been known to talk about their corporate culture and have stated on multiple occasions that it was not planned and more of a mistake, which turned into something great. It simply was their ability to say what they are going to do and do what they said they would do… and if for any reason they could not do something, they would publically share why, not hide it. This is how the two of them ran the company! It incited a culture within HubSpot where employees were known as HubSpotters, and they would move mountains for the organization if it meant getting something done… They always knew from the top down that HubSpot as an organization had their back and would never leave them stranded. The end result was a team always giving it 110% making HubSpot a unicorn company of legends… Again, they did many things from creating a strong business model, product, and methodology, but it was the corporate culture that got their team moving forward as one cohesive unit, knowing that leadership always had their backs.

It is up to leadership to ensure we always do right with your teams. A team that trusts and respects their leader will follow them into any battle and will fight until the bitter end without question or hesitation.

 

As inclement weather hits, Delta fails its customers due to organizational breakdowns

As inclement weather hit the New York and Eastern Seaboard earlier this month, the FAA issued a slowdown of all ground and air traffic in and out of New York’s LaGuardia Airport, resulting in hundreds of delayed and canceled flights set to depart that night. What followed was a textbook example showcasing the breakdown of operational and technical silos within an organization such as Delta. We all know nothing can be done about Mother Nature and her impact on air travel; however, how organizations such as Delta react will either magnify or alleviate situations like this. Unfortunately in the example we are sharing today, Delta’s breakdown magnified the issue… 

When the FAA ordered the slowdown of LaGuardia’s air traffic, Delta—at first—appeared to be the poster child for how an organization should be responding in times where situational slowdowns were out of their control. It started with Delta notifying their passengers of the slowdowns via an announcement within the terminal, followed by text messages, emails, and Delta mobile application notifications. They were quick to identify the source of the slowdown being the FAA and the weather’s unforeseen impact on the airport while promising to keep passengers updated on progress as it was made. At first, updates were coming fast and furious, with new statuses being made almost every 10 – 15 minutes… This impressed me as it seemed like Delta was working with real-time data to make their best possible indication of delays and new departure times. However, as time began to pass, it became apparent Delta was doing nothing more than pulling guesses out of thin air.

In reality, what we were witnessing was a systematic breakdown of the various silos within Delta. At first, it was communication with its passengers, as frequent departure updates became less frequent, conflicting, and past tense. After a while, Delta stopped screenshot_20190610-203903_fly-deltapushing updates via email and text altogether, only sticking with gate and mobile application updates… At this point, even the gate and mobile application had completely different departure times, and as time progressed, even those times were long gone with future updates ending up with the same fate…. It wasn’t uncommon to be looking at the mobile app with an estimated departure time that is 10 minutes earlier than the current time (Picture). This at first was clear indication that Delta did not have a cohesive communication strategy for times like this… But it did not stop there.

While waiting at the gate wondering when our flight would actually depart from LaGuardia, something interesting happened: a flight attendant ended up sitting next to me… The first thing I noticed is that Delta provides their staff a different version of their mobile application; this application gives them visibility into incoming flight statuses for aircrafts meant to service specific flights. In this case, her application clearly showed that our flight was inbound from Boston to LaGuardia with an ETA of 8:05pm while the gate notifications had our estimated departure time at 7:57pm… This was a first clear indicator that their own internal systems were not able to communicate between each other, as they clearly had our estimated departure time set before our incoming aircraft was even due to arrive. What even further compounded the issue was once our incoming aircraft finally made it to the gate, we were then notified that our pilots were actually on a completely different aircraft… These two incoming flights both had direct downstream impacts to our delayed flight, yet it seemed as if the team responsible for posting departure estimates had no insight whatsoever to this information. This begs the question: where were they getting this information from in the first place?

Delta’s failures didn’t stop there. Once the aircraft and crew were finally in alignment and passengers were able to board the plane, the waiting continued. At first it was 5 minutes, but then quickly became 10, 15, and then 20 minutes without movement from the gate or updates from the crew. Eventually, the pilots came over the intercom announcing that we were actually waiting on the aircraft to finish fueling and paperwork. This, again, was another breakdown of Delta’s systems as the plane had been sitting at the gate for more than 30 minutes before the crew arrived, and no one had the foresight to ensure proper preparation such as fueling the aircraft while waiting on the crew. This delay turned into another 50-minute delay before we were able to depart from the gate.

The lack of system communication within Delta not only made it frustrating to receive an accurate estimate of when our delayed fight was actually set to depart, but it had call center ramifications as well. That day, not only were flights delayed, but there were many cancelations … As passengers began to receive cancelation updates, they were quick to call Delta’s customer service to make alternate arrangements. For some, this turned into absolute disaster as people were being booked on new flights, and those flights were canceled minutes later in some cases, or passengers were finding that flights were full. In one case, there was a gentleman trying to make his way to Tennessee who was booked on three canceled flights…

What we were witnessing was a fundamental breakdown in Delta’s siloed systems which made it virtually impossible for the various components of Delta’s customer-facing business units to properly communicate internally and to customers, leading to an end result of frustrated customers and bruised brand reputation. When Mother Nature hits, almost nothing can control how the FAA will react and its impact to the airlines; however, the way the airlines react during this time can and will have a direct impact to overall customer experiences and brand reputation…. Let’s be realistic—we talked a lot about Delta, but they’re not alone, as many organizations struggle with the same siloed approach to how they do business, and as a direct result, they are slow to react when their customers are in times of need. Small businesses have an advantage as they are quick to make adjustments on the fly; however, even small businesses fail to recognize that they need to put proper systems and policies in place before situations like unplanned weather hit! As businesses, it is up to you to be proactive in times of need because customers will remember if you alleviated the situation or just made things worse.

The 10 Reasons Your Sales Team May Be on the Hunt

Sales Team May Be on the HuntWe recently came across an interesting LinkedIn post questioning how to keep sales team members from leaving an organization… This is an interesting question, as Sales overall tends to have some of the highest turnover rates over any other department within an organization. Each time an organization loses another sales team member, it is not just the employee loss that hurts the organization. There are many downstream issues that affect the organization from associated revenue loss, recruitment cost, on-boarding cost, and potential loss of client trust. This makes sense as to why organizations should be finding ways to ensure good sales team members stick around longer.

Engaged reps are no longer spending entire careers within one organization but hop job to job every few years in search for the next better opportunity… Why has this become the case? First, over the years, it seems that the way organizations have looked at Sales has drastically changed from strategic individuals within an organization to replaceable butts in seats. As a result, Sales feels less valued by their current employers and are lured away with the hope of finding a role where they are more valued and see more potential in the long term. Let us break it down a bit and share some of the key areas we’ve seen that can affect the sales team’s morale within an organization:

  • Number of Sales Reps = Revenue: Translation: butts in seats = bookings. We’ve lost count to how many executives we’ve seen build their revenue models based on how many reps they have in seats. Are they wrong in this approach? No. But herein lies the issue; they take this perception beyond their revenue models and begin to look at their sales team as a number vs. individuals and treat them as such.
  • Everyone is Replaceable: When management begins to look at the sales team as just a number, they start to convey the message to the sales team that everyone is replaceable. And no one wants to feel as if they are replaceable.

One example of how an organization takes this to the extreme is Oracle. As a starter, teams that have a full head count are allocated the ability to hire a +1 rep. The sole job function of this +1 is to sit on the bench waiting for a rep within the team to leave the organization so they can fill that hole as soon as humanly possible. However, it doesn’t just stop there. Over the years, Oracle has developed a “class of” program, hiring MBAs fresh out of college and spending months training and crafting their ideal reps… These new reps are kind of like the AAA of Oracle, where once they complete training, they are given positions as Business Development Reps where they hone their skills in waiting to be called up to the Big Show. Again, this makes them a lower cost and a faster replacement option as older reps leave. Nothing makes a sales team member feel less appreciated than knowing they are 100% replaceable at any moment’s notice.

  • Three Months: Three months is the average time most reps get to fix their low sales numbers before they are put on a Performance Improvement Plan to fix their numbers or be fired. Now, we agree that bad reps need to be fired; however, we find that many organizations do not take the true time to understand why a sales member is under-performing. Furthermore, we find most performance plans are configured in a way where goals are almost impossible to hit and are essentially designed to get a rep to quit or get fired. In these cases, existing reps are completely aware of these types of plans, and it always sits in the back of their minds.
  • Shrinking Commission: In twenty-plus years, we can count on one hand the commission plan changes that were actually beneficial to the reps! Regardless of the organization, we’ve found that the majority of commission changes typically have a detrimental effect on reps’ commissions. It doesn’t matter how management tries to frame these changes to the sales team; they know how they are paid and will quickly see how a plan will change their compensation. Nothing demotivates Sales more than knowing they are making less money for the same work.
  • Unattainable Quotas: We reviewed this in a past article, but it begs repeating. Sure, as a company grows, so should quotas. But if you have more than 50% of your reps missing their numbers, you have a problem. No one is going to stick with a company if their quotas are so high they are virtually impossible to hit.
  • Career Path: Typically, there isn’t one for Sales. Very few companies actually line up a career path for their sales team, and as a result, there is almost no path for career progression. It is hard to keep anyone motivated if there is no path for them to grow. This is even more painful as they see others in other departments continuously get promoted while they remain stagnant.
  • Outside Management: This is such a tough one as we see the value of bringing in a fresh set of eyes to oversee a team. However, almost nothing makes a sales team less motivated than when leadership brings in management from outside the organization. Not only does it show that management does not believe that anyone within the current team has the ability to lead, but when you couple that with the lack of career development already in place, it truly demotivates a team.
  • Outside Heavy Hitter: A new successful territory becomes available or the opportunity to sell the newest product opens up, but management brings in an outside heavy hitter to take on this new role vs. an existing team member. That’s going to piss off your existing team. Why should someone that is completely new to the organization get a new and exciting opportunity while people that have been with the company for years stay stagnant? You may not believe that, but your team certainly does.
  • Presidents Club: What is that? Nothing is more nostalgic than hearing some of the old-timers talking about “the glory days” of presidents club… Free family trips to Disney World, all-expenses-paid trips to the Caribbean, corporate sporting event buyouts… Sure, there are still some companies that offer these types of trips, but they are few and far between. Even if they do offer some type of presidents club, they almost never stack up to those in the past. Sure, does the lack of Presidents Club cause reps to leave? Of course not. But it certainly does not help with retention, especially when they are being recruited by other firms that might actually have a great Presidents Club.
  • Random Perks: Random breakfast, lunches, or an offer to pay for a night out on the town are the little things that good companies offer reps for all their hard work and time away from their families when traveling. However, many companies do not offer these perks anymore… Again, does the lack of incentives truly make a rep want to leave? The answer is still no. However, just like the Presidents Club, perks make them feel appreciated, and they are definitely being offered by companies that recruit your best reps.

At the end of the day, sales is one of the most stressful jobs in any organization. When you really think about it, each rep essentially has to start at zero at the beginning of every month, quarter, and year… The good sales reps are always focused on how to be successful and close as much business as possible. This results in them not adopting the typical 9–5 shift and working all hours of the day. They continuously sacrifice family time for email, sales calls and travel… However, companies are increasingly devaluing the position of Sales, and they have taken notice. This is why salespeople don’t stick around for entire careers anymore. You want your reps to stick around? Make them feel irreplaceable with an obtainable quota, give them a career path, and instead of finding clever ways to pay them less, find ways to pay them more! Finally, make them feel appreciated by offering perks such as a Presidents Club and little things such as breakfast or lunches (they go a really long way). When people feel appreciated and like a valued part of a team, they will not be wondering how much greener the grass is on the other side of the fence.

Want to discuss more or need help, feel free to comment below or contact us directly at 3SixtySMB@3SixtSMB.com