Breaking the chain of ignorance: How to up the pace of transformation

In December 2012, we published the 12 Sales Trends Report for 2013 and released a brief summary of each trend. This month we are focusing on the sales trend “Breaking the chain of ignorance – upping the pace of transformation”.

It is not enough to adapt to change, we need to keep ahead of the curve and continue to transform ourselves before the change arrives – opting to stay conservative will be a riskier strategy than taking risks to transform. But the risks don’t need to come from the unknown. The key to this transformation is right before our eyes – it’s in our organisation’s own value chain.

However, you can’t harness the power of your value chain, your thinking, your people and your stories if your thinking lacks clarity, your people are stuck in the traditions of the past and your stories are boring. Most organisations struggle to explain what they do and how they do it in a way that is both easily understood and generates a curiosity to know more. If we cannot communicate our story to our employees, customers, suppliers and investors then they cannot tell others nor can they make informed decisions. As a result, we have employees, customers, suppliers and investors who do not understand why we are different and how we can benefit them and others.

Think about the common mission statement or vision. Supposedly the bedrock of an organisation, what we find instead is a foundation of sand. Visions are often too broad to be useful. It isn’t that the vision doesn’t mean anything so much as it could mean anything. Too much is left open to interpretation and the result is our people, unsure of performance expectations, start working at cross-purposes. There are similar issues with values statements. The values are either poorly defined and open to interpretation or they merely reflect what an organisation thinks people would like to see rather than the reality.

What does this mean to you, your people, your colleagues and your business?

1. Most business or corporate values statements are virtually indistinguishable from each other.

2. Actions are what count – not what’s on paper.

3. If there’s a disconnect between what you say is important and what your people do, you need to fix that right away. Rather than building a series of rules, build a series of examples. People learn from examples and role models – not from a list of words.

Instead of looking outside for some magic potion to transform your business, this sales trend will see businesses materialising and mapping their value chains, harnessing their stories of WHY and HOW and making sure they engage everyone across the businesses ensuring they understand their part in the value chain

Smart companies are connecting the dots – the people dots. This sales trend is all about alignment and engaging all the people in your business with your purpose, your story, the business of your business, the way forward. What you say you want, what you really want, and what you reward all have to be in alignment. If people are ignorant of what you stand for then it is time to break that chain of ignorance. And then everybody will understand that selling is everybody’s business.

Remember, everybody lives by selling something.

Sue Barrett is a sales expert, business speaker, adviser, sales facilitator and entrepreneur and founded Barrett Consulting to provide expert sales consulting, sales training, sales coaching and assessments.


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