SALES SABATOGUE: When Politics and Internal Divisions Retard Sales


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You have often heard the saying; ‘a house divided among itself will fall’. The same is true of the sales organization. However, in too many organisations the sales effort is retarded by petty squabbles, territorial divides and personality conflicts.

There are many organisations that are to some extent dysfunctional when it comes to sales. It is as if different parts of the organisation are pulling in different directions when it comes to selling.

Salespeople and indeed sales managers, often tell us that they do not feel as if they have the full backing and support of their organisations when it comes to sales. Here are some typical examples:

  • Their request for a demo for an important customer appears to be met with reluctance
  • Their efforts in winning a big deal appear to be undermined by a shaky project start, or poor project management of delivery/implementation
  • Technical support and training provided to sales people appears to be assigned a low priority
  • There is internal politics involved in respect of what appear to be standard sales support requests from sales
  • The sales person, or sales manager often feels as if he, or she is the last person to know about important changes, or developments within the company
  • Decisions are being made that impact on sales without involvement or consultation with the sales person
  • The senior management team does not share responsibility for sales, or afford it sufficient time, or attention

In a buoyant market, these factors are a nuisance. But in the most difficult market conditions for more than a decade they go from being a nuisance to having the potential to threaten the organisation’s very survival.

Salespeople face enough challenges in finding and keeping customers, without any internal impediments being placed in their way. Politics and internal divisions retard sales. They effectively sabotage the sales effort.
Why Sales May Not be Getting Full Support

If people are not giving the sales effort their full support then there are usually 2 causes:

1. The first is that the sales manager, or team has not demonstrated that it deserving or appreciative of it. The respect, co-operation and support that sales so needs, must be earned.

2. The second and even more fundamental is that there is a leadership deficit – in short the CEO is not doing his, or her job. A pro-sales culture is necessary.

Making Sales More Worthy of Support

Sales has to come to terms with the fact that it is often not, as far as most people are concerned, ‘the coolest kid on the block’. They must recognise that there are genuine differences, ranging from personality types to professional training, between selling and other business functions, such as finance, marketing and technical.

Sales has to sell itself internally. It has to get better at teamwork and co-operation. It has to build bridges, win more friends and build a greater concensus.
Is your organisation 100% pro sales?

Here are two realities that characterise those organisations whose ethos is not 100% sales and customer driven:

1. Unless there is good communication and an environment of high trust and respect, then co-operation both within sales and between sales and other departments is likely to suffer.

2. If the CEO and the sales manager don’t work well together, then don’t expect those lower down to work well with sales either.

Creating a pro-sales culture is key. It requires energising the sales effort organisation wide and getting all members of the management team to row in behind the sales effort. Whose job is that? Well the sales manager has a major role to play, however unless the CEO provides the leadership, success is likely to be limited. An actively pro-sales CEO is essential.

Let’s Get Real

In our simple view of the world a organisation has 3 types of people, or departments. That is those who sell, those who help those who sell and those who need to ‘get the heck out of the way’.

The present market conditions present companies with sufficient challenges without any other impediments being put in the way of sales. So, if there is any aspect of an organisation that does not support the sales effort then it must tackled as a priority.

With this in mind, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is your entire organisation 100% committed to the winning new customers and keeping the ones that you have got?
  • Does the sales team enjoy 100% support from every part of your organisation – from operations for example?
  • Does the sales organisation set the example for good cooperation by ensuring a high level of team work within the sales team, as well as between sales and marketing?
  • Is the sales manager an effective leader, as well as a good politician, building goodwill and effectively galvanising the management team behind the sales strategy?
  • Does the culture of your organisation facilitate co-operation, the sharing or responsibility and effective teamwork?
  • Do all department heads evidence their support for sales?
  • Is there a team based approach to sales, with other functional areas of the business being involved in winning the sale?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ray Collis
Ray Collis is a Business to Business sales coach, sales trainer, Director and Buyer Research Practice Lead of The ASG Group - recognized among the Top 5 sales training organizations worldwide in terms of overcoming the challenges in B2B selling to procurement, or the sophisticated buying organization (ES Research Group). Ray is co-author of several books, including The B2B Sales Revolution and QuickWin B2B Sales, and also of the sales blog Buyer Insights.


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