Monday, August 17, 2015

Eat Your Breakfast

Someone recently shared something with me, and I've been carrying it around with me for days in my head.  He attributed it as a quote from famous business author, Peter Drucker.  He said, "culture eats strategy for breakfast."

As sales professionals we live with strategies.  We have strategies to grow market share.  We have strategies to launch a new product line.  We have strategies to gain a new client.  And when our strategies fail we often look to ourselves to figure out why it didn't work.  We question our skills, techniques, and sometimes even our work ethic.  Yet, the reason why our strategies didn't work may not have anything to do with us as sales professionals and have everything to do with the culture of the organization or people we are trying to sell to.

Culture is a collection of habits that define operating procedures or human behaviors.  These habits can be so entrenched in people and organizations that they are difficult, and, sometimes, nearly impossible to change.

We are offering a solution - a product or service - that would revolutionize the outcomes for an individual or organization, and they just won't buy it.  It is their culture that is getting in the way of the sale.

It may be entirely illogical, irrational, and foolish for them not to buy what you are selling, and they still won't buy it.

Is it a lost cause?  Not entirely.  The sale, if it is to happen, will require considerably more work on your part.  You will need to spend a lot more time with the prospect to learn and understand the culture.  You will need to embrace the culture and get close to it.  It might take weeks or months or even years before you will potentially understand what is it about the culture that is getting in the way.

As busy sales professionals we need to do a quick cost-benefit analysis to evaluate the proper use of our time.  For the right client the investment of time to understand a culture and devise a wise approach to the sale may all be time well spent.

Stephan Covey said, "seek first to understand, and then to be understood."  To understand fully requires time and focus.  Shift your focus to your prospect's culture (habits) and you will be more effective in your sales efforts.

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