I have to confess my lack of patience with an attitude I see permeating much of our world today. Recently, I find myself having more conversations with colleagues similarly impatient. We are disappointed, we struggle to understand what we see going on–particularly in much of business and selling.
We wonder, “Do we have unrealistic expectations? Have things changed that substantially since we started (some, thought not all of us have been around the block more than a few times)? What’s happening, why?
Ultimately, we get to the question, “Is that just the way things are…….”
And we choose not to settle. We are choosing to believe this is unacceptable, that we can and must change. That we can and must move forward. That we can and must learn, grow, improve.
Yesterday, a close friend called me to share a discussion he had. My friend leads one of the highest performing sales organizations I’ve experienced. They drive billions in revenue every year, are growing faster others in their industry. He asked,
“Dave, I need to ask you something to see whether I’m missing something. Recently, I was in a conversation with my counterparts in other organizations. They run very large sales organizations. We were talking about programs we could collaborate on that could drive huge growth.
But I was shocked at their reactions. They wanted to grow, but they were hesitant to change. ‘We’ll struggle to get our people to step up to these initiatives. It’s not realistic to think they can do these things. And to tell you the truth, we’re doing fine the way we are. We’re hitting our targets, the hassle of changing just isn’t worth it……’
Dave, I’ve never seen this before, are you seeing it, what am I missing?”
Sadly, I see it too often. I see too many organizations and individuals, at all levels, settling.
There are different reasons/excuses. Some of it is assigning blame, “Our products just aren’t that competitive, we’re getting as much as we can from our people, the current generation just doesn’t want to work that hard, it’s the economy/market conditions…..”
Some attribute it to a new business reality, “That’s just the way things are, business has changed…” “Customers don’t want to see sellers any more…. (Though the data doesn’t quite support that conclusion)” “People are different….”
And “success,” blinds too many. “Why should we change, we are hitting our goals?” “We’ve been growing year after year, we don’t want to disrupt things….” “We’re doing good enough….”
We somehow have come to accept that win rates are 15-20%, that fewer than 45% of our people will make/exceed their goals, that average tenure, at all levels is 11 months, that customers “don’t need sellers….”
Some of these views are understandable. Some of these may not be unreasonable.
But, at least, personally and to some like my friend, this mindset is discomfitting.
Early in my career, I developed mindsets around continuous improvement, that we could always get better, we could do more, we could achieve stretch goals and pursue “BHAGs.”
Mentors and coaches instilled a spirit that “Quota/target is something you pass on the way to achieving your goals.”
We were constantly challenged with the concept of, “It’s your God-given right to 100% share of customer and 100% share of market…” While we knew that was impossible, we constantly challenged ourselves to do more.
We took losses hard–not blaming our customers, competitors, our products–but as something that we must learn from, improve and grow. We took time to look at each loss, maybe just for 30 minutes, sometimes we did more comprehensive reviews. But we looked at what we might change, how we could get better.
But, increasingly, I am finding that mindset absent. Many experienced leaders seem to be satisfied with “the way things are.” Too many sellers seem satisfied with putting in the hours, doing their jobs.
Some might say that “hypercompetitiveness” is wrong. Personally, I never thought of it as hypercompetitiveness, I was just excited by the challenge. I was driven to figure things out. Looking at very tough problems–whether they were things within our own organizations or challenges our customers faced, the pure excitement of solving tough problems drove me, my customers, and colleagues.
And we had great fun and joy in doing these things! It became such a rush!
Have we lost that drive?
Are things that different? Is “just good enough,” just good enough?
Is it burn out? Is it disengagement? Is it the revolving door that we see at all levels? Is what we do in our jobs just for funding what we really want to do in our lives?
Is it “Imitative behaviors,” “Everyone is doing these things….”
Is it our comfort with the “rising tide” phenomena?
I’m not sure what’s causing it, but it seems to permeate too many organizations and individuals.
And maybe it’s me, maybe the world has changed and I simply don’t get it.
But I struggle with the concept of “settling.”
There is so much we can do, so much we can achieve. There is so much value we can create with our colleagues, within our organizations, with our customers, with our communities.
I just refuse to settle…..
I hope I’m not alone…