Situation: A company acquired an office in a new geography at no cost – just a commitment to keep the office going. The immediate challenge is transferring the previous owner’s client base to the new owner’s service. The people in the distant location are OK, but it will take coaching for them to deliver the new owner’s level of service. However, these people are proud and resistant to change. How do you eliminate a them-us cultural divide?
Advice from the CEOs:
Involve the person who facilitated the acquisition in the integration process. Get his opinion of what is needed.
Your prime commitment is to the client base and past practices that built the client base. Maintain or surpass this level of service. As long as the team meets this level of performance, they are serving your objectives.
You and the key manager of the newly acquired office should meet with their most important clients. Help the manager convert those clients for you.
Your other implied commitment is to the manager and employees that you inherited through this deal. Educate them on your approach – “we will do all that we can to create success for our clients.” Connect with the manager, understand how this person serves clients, and coach the individual.
Be fair – the fairest method of managing is a meritocracy.
Manage by results, not process – if the core values between the two sites are similar, allow for cultural differences in local practice.
If all this doesn’t work and you want for “them” to become “us” you will have to have someone from the home office move to the distant office and manage it.
Situation: The Company has a geographical sales and service organization. Much of the sales effort comes from the consulting reputation of the managing director of each geographical unit, but he directors’ core values usually favor consulting over meeting sales plans. How do we get these directors to meet sales goals?
Advice from the CEOs:
Experience turning around a consulting organization with no sales culture:
Ours was a 5-year process. It starts with a leader who sells successfully and teaches by example.
As we made the transition, we selected new hires for sales skills to compliment their consulting skills. This facilitated our transition to a strong sales culture.
You need to commit to build a sales culture.
Moving to an account manager team versus an engineering/professional team was a big shift. It takes time and patience.
Hire effective sales people to jump-start the process. Most of the successful seller/doers will be new hires.
Revise your reward and recognition structure around your objectives.
Make rainmakers your best paid people. This will bring others out of the woodwork.
Bias sales compensation for doer/sellers toward variable compensation. Allow successful individuals to make over $200K per year.
Consider a 3-year phase-in by not increasing base pay through raises. More than make up the difference in available variable pay. Directors will now have more incentive to hit their sales numbers.
This is a difficult change in both sales leadership and culture. You may have to make significant leadership changes.