Caution! Your Culture May be a Roadblock to Your Revenue Destination

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Maximize Top Line Revenue

Caution! Your Culture May be a Roadblock to Your Revenue Destination

I’m immersed in a revenue growth effort that will be worth $35 million per year for 10 years to my client. This is big for just about any company. The quality of their responses to various “what if” scenarios is a key factor in their chance of winning this contract. The senior executives have strong opinions about their responses and yet—their culture is overtaking common sense and putting this huge opportunity at risk.

Culture is a set of attitudes and beliefs that govern behavior. In this case their belief is that the senior executives are too high on the org chart to kickoff the effort with specific guidance and suggested answers. They would rather let the writing team flounder for 3-4 weeks than to show them the way first. Their attitude is that it’s okay for them to spend those 3-4 weeks making vague comments such as “the slides are terrible” and “they are missing the mark” because the writers should figure it out themselves.

Of course, the end state is that there’s panic and a wholesale takeover by the senior exec team just a few days before the submission deadline.

This is culture at its worst. They have the route and the fuel required to produce a proposal that has a strong chance of winning but they throw themselves off the road with their culture.

What attitudes and beliefs do you have—and does your company have—that undermine your process, your policies, your marketing and your customer service? Driving revenue growth depends on knowing your revenue destination, then choosing the best route and bringing on board the right fuel.

As I see all too often, even when the CEO, President or Owner has a clear revenue destination, chooses the best route and on-boards the most effective fuel, the company can still miss the goal because of culture. Take a step or three back and take a good hard look at your culture before you embark on the ride to your next revenue destination. You’ll improve your chances of arriving on time and successfully.

For those who want to learn more:

  • Processes—you create processes to ensure that you don’t miss any steps. However you omit or ignore what happens before the process kicks in. Are there discussions that communicate that the process is flawed, could be ignored, has steps than can be skipped, etc.? This is how culture undermines process.
  • Policies—you invest in written policies to create uniformity and to have answers when questions arise. Every time you make an exception to a policy, or ignore it altogether, or twist it to cover situations it’s not intended to cover, that’s your culture undermining the policy.
  • Marketing—you invest in building your brand, to differentiate your offerings and recruit new buyers—and your culture pushes you to rush to discounts, deals and other value-destroying actions. Unless your company is truly the Wal-Mart of its industry, build a high value brand and don’t let culture destroy it.
  • Customer service—Here’s where processes, policies, and marketing culture too often come together to throw you violently off the route to your destination.
    1. Your processes lay out precise steps for responding to customer’s complaints that are completely company-focused.
    2. Your policies force your customer facing staff to do as little as possible to help your customers.
    3. Your marketing tells customers how great your company is and then your customer service culture treats them like dirt.

Have I been harsh in my assessment of how culture undermines processes? Not harsh, just reflective of today’s reality:

  • When the person with the name on the firm doesn’t want to call the firm’s best customers because it’s beneath him;
  • When the CRM account rep urges a discount-based promotion to an owner whose business has thrived for 20+ years without discounts;
  • When a company in an industry where differentiation is nearly impossible refuses to entertain growth options because it doesn’t fit their seasonal pattern;
  • When customer service is about protecting the company instead;
  • When companies live with daily urgency instead of creating priorities of important goals and activities;

You are looking at, running and experiencing companies where culture has overtaken the route and the fuel and the revenue destination will continue to be out of reach. If you recognize any of these in your company, pause, assess and re-route.