If you’re being honest, business today is about profits over people and quotas over customers. So what is missing in people that keeps them from striking a balance to make companies and sales more human? Have we lost our humanity? If so, how do we regain it?
The intense pressure in companies for short-term gains leads to a focus on profits over people. That focus on profits leads to selecting people that will generate them. Managers generate profits in the short term so they’re placed in leadership positions. These results-oriented managers squeeze the people to generate profits, which can lead to the dehumanization of organizations.
It’s estimated that 95 percent of businesses would experience huge advantages by injecting some humanity in their operations. Take for example a company doing really well with its employees and profits and decided it needed a higher rate of growth.
The top decision makers installed a tyrannical micro manager to lead the business with a finance person as second in charge. The decisions the company made started to change. They started to cut benefits like Christmas parties, incentive trips and began to see people as numbers in a spreadsheet instead of creators of value. This led to the best people leaving, and instead of viewing this as a warning sign they saw it as a great gift as they could replace these people with others that were younger and cheaper.
People became expendable. What has this change for the sake of growth caused? The company is now half the size it was in profits, earnings and people, with previously valued employees departing in droves. This company went from great to mediocre by bleeding out the humanity. The lesson learned should be that if you remove the humanity out of a company the humanity will leave, literally; and by the way, so will the profits.
Here are a few practical ways to bring the humanity and profits into balance.
Live the people-first mentality. Understand that no matter what business you are in you are really in the people business. Focus on employees first, customers second and profits third for more profits.
Become a culture-driven company. Focus on the values and behaviors (culture) of your people and hire and fire for it. Select people for attitude and train for aptitude.
Transcend. Remember that business success is all about people and how they behave. Provide a transcendent purpose (other than money) and let this and your culture drive you. Your employees will serve your customers and your customers will buy more.
How human are salespeople? There is a classic joke that goes like this, “How can you tell when a salesperson is lying? His/her lips are moving.” Salespeople have gained one of the most inhuman reputations out there. The barrage of unsolicited phone calls these days continues to erode the reputation of the sales profession. One of the Noble Prize Winners of 2018 in Economics did not answer the phone call from the Nobel Committee that called to congratulate him because he thought it was a sales call and did not want to answer it.
To some, salespeople are viewed as not just inhuman, but subhuman. To make this worse, most of the sales training that salespeople receive is based on processes that make the whole thing feel “robotic.” So where has the trust and humanity gone? By squeezing salespeople with sky high quotas that force them to do everything under the sun (including even unethical things) that further erodes their reputation. Wouldn’t it be nice for the entire sales industry to undergo a transformation based on humanity, and for customers to once more see sales associates as friends not foes?
For this to occur, salespeople should be trained based on values and behaviors (a sales culture) that makes them pay close attention to being human beings first and of helping people to purchase (not sell) services second.
Stop the sales process trainings that further erase the humanity out of an already highly dehumanized profession. On top of that, you should train the sales managers to also coach and lead their culture-driven sales force.
The leaders of a sales force at a large company decided it would be a good idea to yell and scream at their salespeople to meet objectives that were set way too high. The lack of humanity in the managers led to the best people leaving the company. The politics also started to get out of control as less qualified people were promoted to fill the spaces of the excellent salespeople which had left. Today, this company is suffering from a profit and morale problem that will not be solved until they retrain or fire the inhuman managers, bring back the humanity, and focus on people first and profits second.
So how human are you? Be honest and see if you too have lost humanity and need to bring life back in to balance your business and sales force. This very humanity is at the core of what makes your company and sales force great.