One of the most abiding issues I find in most organisations, is the tension between sales on one hand and governance on the other.
Sales teams believe that governance teams are the “Sales Avoidance Police” and governance teams believe that sales teams are trained at the “Del Boy Academy”.
"It is not in anyone’s interests (least of all the customer’s) for teams to be navel gazing and arguing over process."
It is too easy to become used to this negative tension and accept it is just the way things are. It doesn’t have to be this way. While the tension is needed and designed in, it is all too often combative and diverts attention inwards rather than outwards to the customer need. Far too much energy is expended in internal sign off processes and arm wrestling between departments and teams.
It is not in anyone’s interests (least of all the customer’s) for teams to be navel gazing and arguing over process. They would be better spending time understanding customer need and designing safe systems to deliver on that need.
"Acceleration and braking are both needed if the team is to win the race."
However, distrust rules. Instead of focusing on external competition, too many people are thinking on how to manage their colleagues. Their diaries are full of internal meetings.
Both sides of the equation need to try much harder to understand the others’ perspectives. Acceleration and braking are both needed if the team is to win the race. Instead of designing sales plans and approaches in isolation from governance, it should be designed in from the bottom up. And vice versa.
It is equally damaging for organisations to either sign bad deals or sign no deals. There has to be a better way that ensures the organisation is both fast and safe.
"Sales teams are trying to match customer needs and most would not indulge in the practices that drove the need for controls."
Sales teams need to get over themselves and accept governance is not going away. It is needed control, designed after previous sales teams have done bad deals which impacted customers negatively. Governance teams are not trying to stop sales. Just to ensure the sales are good for both the customer and the company.
Governance teams need to get out into the real world and understand how their controls impact on customers. Sales teams are trying to match customer needs and most would not indulge in the practices that drove the need for controls. Sales teams are not trying to stop governance. Just to ensure the controls are good for both the customer and the company.
Senior leaders need to stop nodding in understanding with one side or the other, based on their own prejudices. They need to be much more forceful and leaderful in driving solutions which meet the customer need quickly, while maintaining safe and well governed systems. They have a responsibility to do both.
Joint working and pragmatism on both sides will be needed as will a total focus on winning together. We are after all part of the same team.
The alternative is to race off fast and crash at the first corner. Or be so careful and slow that we never reach the finish line first.
Fast and Safe! Acceleration and braking are both needed if the team is to win the race.
More articles by Ian Ferguson, Leadership Coach
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