I’ve been thinking about Corporate Culture for a while now. We find ourselves facing increased competition for employees. There have been times in our organization’s history, where it is very clear what the culture is, what is needed, and what is not acceptable. I’ve also found it very difficult to define our culture in a way that all can understand and embrace it. It became exponentially more difficult once we added a second location where employees had very little face to face interaction from one location to the other.
Because of regulatory and business environment changes, we’re in the process of proactively reacting and reexamining our operations. If as David Cummings suggests that corporate culture is really the only thing completely in our control, we’ll be starting there. We’ve struggled and worked at keeping our culture strong, but now it needs to be tweaked. To continue growing, we’ll need to move and pulse faster. As we hire, we’ll need to become more sophisticated ensure we’re bringing the right people on board. We’re large and spread-out enough that not everyone can be hired by one person. It’s been a long time since one person could supervise everyone on staff.
Over the next couple of posts, I’ll share some thoughts about our culture and some of the ways that I think we need to change.
Recently, I had a run in with a sales person from Patch.com. He had met my marketing person who thought that their service sounded like a good idea. I met with them obtained a quote and let them know we were putting everything into the budget. We decided to move some of our advertising dollars from a local paper to Patch.com.
The follow-up lost it for them. The sales representative came to our office and explained to my marketing representative that the offer was set to expire that day unless I signed the deal. The sales representative informed my employee that he had explained this deadline at the meeting, emailed me about the issue, and called me to discuss the issue. The voice mail was left a couple of minutes before contacting my employee and there was never an email or any mention of a deadline. We probably could have gotten the same deal if we wanted to today, but do I really want to deal with such silliness and lack of integrity in selling?
I do not. Life is too short. The medium they have to offer won’t make or break us, though it might expose us to a different audience than what we could get elsewhere. But, I don’t want to work with sales people who treat my company this way. More importantly, I don’t want my sales people to think that it’s appropriate to treat their customers in this fashion.
Clearly, services and products need to be sold, but the credibility of the sales person will disintegrate quickly once falsehoods and misrepresentations enter the equation. It’s not as though the deal was tiny or unsubstantial. Our lifetime value (LTV) to the Web site would be measured in tens of thousands of dollars if he got us through the first year successfully. Instead, our LTV to Patch.com is zero.