Chapter 14 Build Sales DNA

It always seems impossible until it’s done.

—Nelson Mandela

You can’t change your personal DNA. The genetic code you are born with is what you are stuck with. It determines the color of your eyes and whether you’re left- or right-handed. It even plays a part in how you will develop and function.

Fortunately, what is predetermined in an individual can be recoded in an organization. The ingredients that make a high-functioning sales organization—the most effective management behaviors and the required employee capabilities and mind-sets—can be introduced, enhanced, and modified.

As a result, you can create the organizational DNA that makes successful selling second nature. Why does this matter? Less than a third of change programs and transformation efforts reach their performance targets. A staggering 70 percent of these failures are due to the organization’s inability to adopt required new behavior quickly and completely, not because the initiatives were substandard.1 Having the DNA in place—the right people with the right capabilities, motivation, and attitude—gives the organization the ability to align, execute, and renew faster than the competition. This is not just an important part of sustaining excellence; it’s a precondition.

The story of a North American consumer-services company is instructive. It tried for years to transform the performance of its field sales organization, rolling out a parade of sales-stimulation programs—everything from ...

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