Over the last few years, I’ve noticed a disturbing new paradigm that seems to be gaining a bit of traction in the business community…
In this new paradigm, any amount of conflict, discord, dissent, and disagreement is deemed to be “unhealthy” and “corrosive” to the organization. The idea seems to be that “conflict is bad”. And therefore, conflict must be eradicated “in the interest of harmony”. Because harmony is…of course…the “ideal state we should be striving to achieve in our businesses”.
If you haven’t detected the seething sarcasm, let me tell you what I really think…
This perspective is patently ridiculous and wholly antithetical to business improvement, growth, and progress. I can only assume that these destructive notions are being pushed in large part by well-meaning-yet-woefully-ignorant HR departments that have simply been given way too much rope. And I can only hope that they’ll be reined in before too much damage has been done.
Throughout our research into sales operations, leaders have been crystal clear on this point:
“Making meaningful progress in a sales operation will always generate some level of conflict.”
Trying to make a sale in the marketplace is…by the very nature of the act itself…brimming with conflict. After all, the customer wants to get the most value they can, at the lowest price possible, right? And presumably, you want to provide that value while capturing the highest price possible, yes? That simple dynamic creates conflict!
And I would argue that it’s a very healthy conflict…
Just imagine a scenario where no customer ever pushed back, asked for more value, or demanded a lower price. What would that actually mean? Not in the mythical land of “harmony”, but in the real world?
Of course, it would mean that you’re leaving a ton of money on the table! And that is a decidedly unhealthy outcome for you, your company, and in the long run, even your customers.
The point is that not all conflict is bad. In fact, the conflict that arises from challenging the status quo can actually be a sign that you’re on the right track, asking the right questions, and doing what you should be doing.
The reality is that most people simply don’t like change. Doing things differently, or doing different things, makes most people uncomfortable. Even if it’s a change for the better, they’ll fight it because it’s not what they’re used to. Even if it makes all the sense in the world, they’ll argue against it just because it’s different.
So when you introduce any sort of move away from the comfort of the status quo, you are going to create some conflict.
And since the alternative is to never change, never progress, and never grow beyond where you are right now, it’s impossible for me to see how this sort of conflict can be anything but healthy and productive. In fact, I’d go further and argue that this sort of conflict is absolutely necessary.
That’s it for now…I’m late for an HR meeting 🙂
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