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Dec 10 / gary

Why do we hang on to what isn’t working?

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Why do we hang on to what isn’t working?

I’ve recently put together a training program for CEO’s that looks at how to build a winning sales culture in their organisations. What was facinating for me as I did the research for the program was the role that “Legacy” played in hindering meaningful change.

I found some incredibly compelling of examples of legacy destroying a companies value and the leadership not being able to respond to a critical threat. The first of these was the introduction of the iPhone. When do you think the first iPhone was launched by Apple? 2003? 2005? Would you believe it was the 29th June 2007! Only 6 years ago; they are already ubiquitous as the most recognised and arguably most popular smartphone. When you think about it, Apple created the term “Smartphone” when they launched the iPhone. Until then mobile phones, with the exception of the Blackberry, were more fashion items than universal communicating devices.

What’s facinating about the launch of the iPhone in 2007 is that at that time, Nokia and Motorola the leaders in mobile phones, were in a booming market, growth was stronger than ever and they were very profitable. Then along comes Apple, not a phone company but a computer company, with a vision of a communications device that combines the functi0n of a hand held computer and no keyboard. Here was a company that had no “legacy” in the phone market. They weren’t married to the idea that a mobile phone was simply a mobile phone, they didn’t see why you needed a keyboard, they just gave us a really clever, simply and beautiful piece of technology that changed the way we communicate. What about Nokia and Motorola? For 3 years they stuck to their legacy and brought out new phones with keyboards and small screens. By 2010 Apple had sold 100 million iPhones which was less than 10% of the total mphone market but through their app’s and iTunes store they generated 50% of the profit in the global mobile phone market. Samsung who also didn’t have a mobile phone legacy, decided to do exactly what Apple had done and they made a pretty good imitation of the iPhone.

Here we are in 2013 with Apple and Samsung dominating the smartphone market. Between them they have less than half the mobile phone market globally but they share 99% of the mobile phone markets profit. All the other players, Nokia, Motorola and Blackberry have more than 50% of the market but only 1% of the profit. Their legacy was their downfall. they tried to make incremental changes to their products while Apple and Samsung completely rewrote the rule book.

This is exactly what we find with many companies who have a poor sales culture; they try to make superficial changes without attacking the real underlying cause of their problems and getting rid of their legacy systems, beliefs and behaviours.

A brilliant example of this occured earlier this year. In April, a company used one of our OA partners to help them find a new salesperson. They were successful using the OMG candidate screening tools and placed a high quality salesperson who had very few weaknesses and great strengths. A few months later the CEO of this company contacted me as he was having sales problems. We evaluated his team and found that every member of his team had very severe sales weaknesses in particular Money Weakness and a Non-Supportive Buy Cycle. Given that they were selling high ticket items in a highly competitive market, these weaknesses would greatly hinder their sales efforts. Interestingly, when we presented the findings and the individual evaluation for his team, the CEO notice the OMG format and realised that he had seen the same format when hiring their newest saleperson in April.

The CEO called me a couple of days later to tell me that his new recruit had been evaluated in April using our tools and the results were completely different for the October evaluation. he thought the evaluations didn’t work. When we looked we found that the new salesperson had no Money Weakness in April and his Buy Cycle was very supportive. By October, working in this companies sales environment, he has developed these weaknesses. What was compelling for the CEO was to see that the weaknesses that had been developed in those few months were exactly the same as the weaknesses of his Sales Manager. He had effectively been INFECTED by the companies sales culture.

The CEO decided to start from the beginning, moving his Sales Manager on and rebuilding his sales team from the ground up. He changed his sales process and the way his team was coached and held accountable. He started to get results.

Is your Legacy undermining your sales efforts. Do you need to start with a clean sheet to get the results you really want?

By: Gary Delbridge