Fight It Out, Then March

Great sales organizations argue. They are comfortable with conflict. Like any family full of brothers and sisters, the fact that they love each other doesn’t get in the way of a good argument; it makes a good argument possible–and almost a certainty.

Sales organizations that are uncomfortable with conflict, those that believe dissent and disagreement indicate problems, never become as great as they could be. Instead, they sweep problems and challenges under the carpet, never resolving some important issues.

You have to fight it out to sharpen your ideas. And then you have to put aside the arguments and march.

Dialogue: Everything must be open for dialogue. Nothing should be off the table, except your core values and principles. If you are in sales management, encouraging dialogue allows you to capture the issues, challenges, and problems your sales team faces. It helps you to know what they are facing and how they are thinking about their issues. The ability to engage in dialogue provides you with opportunities to help.

Debate: There is always more than one way to produce the outcome that you need. Encouraging dialogue and can open up a debate about the best way to produce the outcomes you want. Encouraging debate allows sales organizations to bring ideas to the table and to test them against other ideas. Debate is healthy. A lack of debate leads to complacency.

Dissent: Encourage those that disagree to dissent. Disagreement is healthy. This is what it at the root of the debates and the dialogue. You need people who see the world differently. You need people on your team who are willing to challenge the status quo with their ideas. Thwarting dissent frustrates the people with ideas, and it frustrates your ability to improve.

Develop the Best Ideas and Plan: The dialogues, the debates, the disagreements, the dissent all lead to the development of better ideas, better plans, and better execution.

Get Behind the Plan and March

Debates and disagreements are healthy. Arguing about the best way forward is critical. This isn’t about winning the argument. It’s not about building consensus or helping people to buy in. It’s about coming up with the best plan, the best course of action, the best way forward.

But for all of the fighting to be worthwhile, a decision must be made—and then you must march.

There can be no passive resistance, no digging in of heels, and no resistance.

Strong sales organizations fight like crazy until the decision is made, and then they act on that decision. They stop the dialogue. They stop the debating. And they stop dissenting. No one asks their team to take action and suggests that they are doing so only because “the company is making us.” The plan and its execution becomes theirs; they own it. This is true even if they didn’t win the argument and even if it isn’t their plan or preference.


Is discussion, debate, and dissent good for an organization?

When does is go too far?

What are the risks and problems brought on by too little discussion, debate, and dissent? Too much discussion, debate, and dissent?

How do you set all of that aside and march after a decision has been made?

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