If there’s one phrase that really gets my blood boiling, it’s when I hear sales people telling colleagues in other departments that they “aren’t revenue generators”.
Whether meant in jest or not, the sheer arrogance and small minded nature of such a comment can cause serious damage to organisational culture (as well as make you look like a t*t in the eyes of your colleagues).
Worse than this I have also come across sales people using a phrase that’s even worse:
“Without our sales, you wouldn’t have a job!”
I would advise any sales manager or director reading this that if you hear this phrase uttered by anyone who works for you, give them a harsh reality check quickly or lose them from your business.
Yes, in most organisations Sales people are credited with generating revenue because they are the one’s interacting with the client to get the deal done but without the support of everyone around them they wouldn’t ever bring in a penny.
Sales is just a small cog in a complex engine that needs every cog to be interlocked and turning at the right speed for a business to grow.
About 2 years ago, I heard a sales person from another part of a business I was working in tell a colleague in Operations that they were a ‘cost centre’ not a ‘revenue generator’. I immediately pulled them aside and asked them some questions:
So when you’ve booked your deal who takes over implementation?
When your client has a problem at anytime leading up to implementation who do they call?
When the sh*t hits the fan and a client is unhappy who do you go to, to help sort out the problem?
The answer to all of which was, unsurprisingly, Operations.
Not satisfied that I had rammed my point home hard enough I continued:
How did you initially contact the last client you did a deal with?
When you went to see the client who put the case studies together you used to pitch with?
And when you were negotiating the contract did anyone help you?
When you wanted the client to pay who chased the invoice?
And who made sure you got paid your commission on the deal?
Who put your contract together to make sure you had a commission scheme?
I felt by this point that I was in danger of over egging the point as the person in question had got the message…but there was one last question that needed to be asked:
The answer was none.
And this is a BIG problem I’ve found in a lot of companies I’ve worked with. Celebrating success is extremely important! Sales department are always very good at celebrating and shouting about theirs. The thing is, it’s quite rare to hear a sales person really shout about the other people that really made the client happy.
Ultimately doing the original deal is not the true key to commercial growth, it’s how you under promise, over deliver and grow a client that is the real goal. In many circumstances this process doesn’t even involve sales!
And if making the ‘non revenue generator’ comment wasn’t doing enough damage on it’s own. Here’s the real kick in the teeth to those working tirelessly outside of sales.
If Sales miss their targets then more often than not, all the other people in the business who receive an annual bonus based on turnover or profit, (rather than getting commission) get hit directly in the pocket.
Now this is not to say that every business fails to recognise group effort. In my last role before launching WheelSpinner, the company was extremely good at recognising everyone’s efforts and this had a tremendously positive impact on overall employee engagement and come to mention it,vturnover!
Everyone likes to be recognised for doing a good job. That’s a fact.
So, if you work in Sales, next time you think about making a d*ckish comment about how others around you don’t generate revenue, just take a moment to consider what you are actually saying and the damage you are causing.
On the flip side to this, then next time you do a deal, make a point of celebrating the efforts of those around you who have helped you.
Something as simple as an email, celebrating the work of someone who helped you, can have a hugely positive effect on their motivation, your relationship with them, improve the overall company culture and ‘bridge the gap’ between sales and other departments that so often, hinders growth.
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If your company needs help bridging the gap between sales and other departments then get in touch…