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Almost Every Corporate Team Is Dysfunctional

Books have been written on it – seminars created for it – yet dysfunctional teams are endemic. Why?

Are we trying to treat the symptom rather than the cause? Functional teams are more about individual capacity rather than skill. Skills equip you to deal with situations. They don’t ensure that you will use them when called upon to do so. If you are not in the mood or caught off guard the skill generally flies through the window. The underlying issue in most human frailties is selfishness, which more than 99% of the population is afflicted with. Selfish people lack the capacity to give. Instead they trade.

Trading Vs. Giving

Most of us think we are giving when in fact we are trading. Traders will do wonderful acts of service providing there is a personal reward – even if that reward means simply feeling good about themselves. The problem with trades is that when the trade is complete, there is little motivation to do more. Givers will give regardless of reward. These folks are few and far between. Having a team of givers eliminates all of the team idiosyncrasies that seem to plague corporations. Create a team of givers in your organization and that will be the end of dysfunctional teams. Learning about the problem and discussing the problem will yield scant results simply because individuals will lack the capacity to act on what they know.

How To Fix It

Building human capacity not only requires skills and tools. It requires a complete shift in understanding.

Reaching this new level of understanding is achieved through skillful questioning as most of us are sub-consciously dishonest about our motives. Telling an individual what his/her motive is would be futile as they would reject it out of hand. When individuals have nowhere else to go but the truth, then a unique realization takes place, which is life changing. Add to this the skills and tools to build the necessary capacity to be givers.

A team of givers will do wonders for your bottom line. It will also transform your workplace into a stimulating and innovative environment. It will make you an employer of choice and therefore able to recruit top quality staff.

If you are prepared to put in the effort and exercise the courage needed to work through change you will be more than adequately compensated. This process is only for those who are serious about their business and their lives. It will be the most rewarding journey you have yet embarked on.

There are only 2 reasons for lack of sales.

  1. Lack of skill
  2. Lack of activity

Of the two, lack of skill is the easier to solve. The primary skills required by salespeople are:

  1. Prospecting
  2. Telephone technique
  3. Qualifying
  4. Presenting
  5. Closing
  6. Handling stalls and objections

Secondary skills may include:

  1. Planning
  2. Time management
  3. Territory management

All of the above can be taught, practised and internalised. The challenge lies in getting salespeople to see more prospects face to face each day.

The cause of reluctance to do so is the same thing that causes salespeople to avoid asking for referrals.

Why are salespeople so reluctant to do activity?

Essentially there are two reasons for this too.

  1. Fear of rejection
  2. Fear of finding out that they are not as good at selling than initially perceived

Salespeople take pride in a high closing ratio. They will protect this ratio even if it means making less sales. They become picky as to who they see. If they see little chance in converting certain prospects they will avoid calling on them. Pre-judgement causes call reluctance. Cold calling is a no-no, so cold calls, even in the face of no other prospective business is avoided. Instead the salesperson heads back to the office to occupy their time with paper work, which they argue needs to be done.

I have challenged many salespeople after discovering very low daily call rates for new business. The statistics are alarming. In my experience the average salesperson sees less than six new prospective clients a week. That is less than one a day.

What is the challenge?

I ask the following. If I gave you 4 Class A prospects a day, i.e. 4 prospects that would buy simply because I suggested it – how many of the 4 would you see a day. (This is after establishing that they see less than one a day and after they have fully justified why it is impossible to see more based on all the other activities they are required to do.) In addition to this I ask them to take all these other factors like paperwork, service calls. organising their day and so on into account.

What do you think they say?

I would see all 4. I ask: “Even with all the other distractions – how would you manage that?” Without hesitation they reply: “I would find another time to do that stuff if I were guaranteed 4 sales a day.”

What this illustrates is that salespeople lack the belief that if they did the activity, sales would follow. Therefore the conclusion has to be – if you want to increase activity within your sales force you need to develop the belief of your salespeople – right?

Herein lies the biggest challenge. Nothing builds belief like results. Nothing kills belief more than poor results. In order to secure results requires skill and activity. So which of the skills will move the needle prodigiously?

In my opinion, it would have to be referral prospecting followed by competency in qualifying the prospect. Why referral prospecting? Because effective referral prospecting when done correctly produces Class A prospects who buy. That would be tantamount to promising your salespeople 4 people a day who buy.

The second skill that would move the needle would be qualifying. Too many salespeople show up and throw up. They are bent on making sure that the prospect understands every benefit and feature of their product without bothering to find out if the prospect has a need for the product. Salespeople who qualify prospects effectively become trusted consultants, making their jobs so much more effective and enjoyable.

Measurement is critical to establishing areas of weakness that can be improved on and secondly and more importantly, measurement is one of two things required to build a positive self-image. The second is righteous behaviour, which simply means doing what is right. Without measurement, how can you know this?

Why is it important for your salespeople to build a more positive self-image?

The answer is simple. No one achieves more than their current self-image. Avoiding calls knocks self-image. The opposite is also true.

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You don’t know what you don’t know!

Being in the know is highly prized in society. We hire people for what they know. We pay people according to what they know. We admire people that know. Therefore it is little wonder that being in the know is important.

This in itself though can be limiting.

Each person develops a set of rules, standards, principles and values that work for them. Some of these are sound and based on age old truths. Others are perceived truths and though they might not be as dependable, they work enough times to be adopted. Some have never been tried and are held onto anyway in the absence of a suitable alternative. Many acquire knowledge from like-minded trustworthy sources and adopt this knowledge as gospel even though they have never tested it against anything else.

Then there is the unknown. Never been there before. Never heard of it. These reasons alone are sufficient to cast doubt as to their efficacy.

Simple words and phrases elicit all sorts of reactions: religion, homosexuality, sex before marriage, money, righteousness, Trump and so on. Can everyone with a perception be right? Yet I would hazard a guess that each person has their own assertive view of what these words actually mean.

To be able to learn what you don’t know requires being teachable. It means becoming vulnerable, which can be terrifying, especially if you are perceived as one in the know. To some, simply saying I don’t know produces sufficient anxiety to abandon any attempt to admit ignorance.

I was taught a valuable lesson recently. As fate would have it, I was given the responsibility in my church to oversee the Addiction and Recovery program. I was quite excited to have an excuse to attend the program as I have always had an interest in human development and thought that this would add to my quiver. I didn’t think I needed it and believed that I was there to support those who did. How wrong I was.

In a very short time I realized that I was afflicted by the cause of all addictions and I wasn’t even aware of it. I had given up smoking, alcohol, drugs and even sugar on my own. I don’t have a pornography issue, and I’m very aware of what I watch, read and listen to.

Yet, here I was listening to people pouring their hearts out about their addictions with such personal honesty that it made me feel like a worm because I was unable to do the same. After 40 years involvement in the personal development business, I couldn’t be honest like these people. What people thought of me was so important that if I had what I perceived to be a weakness, I would cover it up by presenting a facade. Trying to be someone I wasn’t. Here were people with so called serious issues in their lives, yet they were humble and honest and they touched my soul. I wished I could be more like them. They gave me permission to lay my belly bare and it felt wonderful. It was liberating.

After all this time in personal development, the one thing I had never learnt was how to overcome PRIDE, the mother of all addictions. It was the cause of every discomfort and unhappiness in my life and here at the age of 65 I was fortunate enough to discover it. The consequences have been life changing.

Since then I view everything differently. Instead of guarding my beliefs, I am able to feel safe enough to open up to different view points than my own. I truly feel that I have only just begun my life’s journey.

I will be eternally grateful for that intervention in my life. I hope I remain awake and genuinely open to new learning that can enhance my life and the lives of family and those fellow travelers I am fortunate enough to meet on my journey.

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