One of my favorite business books of all-time is the autobiography of Sam Walton, the patriarch and founder of Wal-Mart. Sam was a brilliant and common man, a sensational businessman, and truly understood what made his business successful. At the end of his book, he lists the “Ten Rules That Worked for Me”. All of his observations (and the book) are worth your time, but the one that really impacted me then and now is…………….
“Rule 7: LISTEN to everyone in your company. And figure out ways to get them talking. The folks on the front lines – the ones who actually talk to the customer – are the only ones who really know what’s going on out there. You’d better find out what they know. This really is what total quality is all about. To push the responsibility down in your organization, and to force good ideas to bubble up within it, you must listen to what your associates are trying to tell you.”
There is a strong message about delegation. There is an even more powerful recommendation about listening.
So the challenge for you is:
Have you created an environment that embraces timely feedback from the front lines?
Does your company have the mechanism & processes to collect feedback from your sales team?
When info gets pumped uphill to HQ, does your firm have the courage to do something about it?
It is my observation that the feedback collection process that is described by the senior team is grossly different from reality. There are people in your organization that will go to great lengths to insulate you from the dirty details. I also know that your front-line colleagues are very reluctant to tell you the truth.
My advice is to go prime that pump yourself and to inspect that what you hear is not sanitized. You will do the right thing with the right information. I am counting on you and so are your people!