It’s all about balancing internal and external focus
THE SURVEYS are in: the results are tallied, and you are thrilled: Compared to last year, your employee engagement numbers are up. Way up. You’ve done presentations on the feedback data, you’ve set up employee task forces to keep the momentum going, and you know you must be moving in the right direction because everyone says that employee engagement leads to a terrific bottom line.
Somehow, the sales force – whose engagement numbers improved the most – still aren’t hitting their (very realistic) numbers. What the heck is going on?
In fact, I’ve had just that conversation with heads of sales organizations. The short answer is that as important as employee engagement is, it really doesn’t help you sell more product. It’s a measure that focuses on the internal, not the external – and therefore will do little to change your sales numbers.
DENISON CULTURE MODEL
According to Dan Denison, success involves a combination of Internal and External focus. By doing so much work on your employee engagement initiatives, you’ve successfully transformed your sales force’s internal focus. That’s great – you’ve got a sales force that believes in the organization and has a good team spirit. But now you have to concentrate on their external focus, because now they have to get out there and spread the word beyond the organization.
Sales forces are good at ‘getting out there’. But they often are most good at delivering a set message to drive sales of a particular product. But to really drive sales you need to create change in your marketplace. Change the conversations, change the focus, change how the customers view their business – and in return, change how they view you. Go from an order taker to one who sets the agenda. Go from a purveyor of goods that the customer needs to helping them discover needs they never had. You get the picture.
Become customer centric in a way that creates a win-win situation for everyone. Create customers that can’t imagine their businesses without your relationship and the products you sell. Create customers who are your partners in changing the industry.
Make sure your company mission, vision and values all align around these two areas – not to the exclusion of other values (like employee engagement) but in addition to it.
Now that you’ve got them engaged with the organization, it’s time to focus on leveraging that to drive Adaptability (creating change and focusing on customers) and Mission (understanding the goals, objectives and vision).
Employee engagement may be the first step to increased business success – but when it comes to sales, real success happens when you ensure that the internal and external foci are working together.