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Willingness to Sell



From the Harvard Business Review article "Eliminate Strategic Overload"[1] the author puts forward two crucial drivers of value: willingness to buy and willingness to sell. While willingness to buy often garners the spotlight, willingness to sell is equally pivotal, yet frequently overlooked. This article delves into the concept of willingness to sell, exploring its significance and the profound influence company culture and business processes wield upon it.


Understanding Willingness to Sell:

Willingness to sell encompasses more than just monetary compensation; it embodies the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that motivate employees to commit their time, skills, and loyalty to a company. It is a balance between what an employee perceives as the value of their contributions and the compensation they receive in return.

In essence, willingness to sell reflects the employee's evaluation of their alignment with the company's purpose, culture, growth opportunities, work-life balance, and overall job satisfaction. It transcends the mere exchange of labor for money; it is about finding fulfillment and meaning in one's professional endeavors.

This should resonate with leaders in today's competitive workforce environment. We cannot simply increase wages to attract talent, that cost has to be passed onto the customer and the "willingness to buy" has not increased.


There are two main components that influence the Willingness to Sell, 1) cultivating a desirable company culture, and 2) investment in business process improvement.


The Influence of Company Culture:

When employees resonate with the company's values and feel valued themselves, their willingness to sell skyrockets. They become more than mere cogs in the corporate machinery; they become ambassadors of the brand, driving innovation, productivity, and customer satisfaction.


Conversely, a toxic or dysfunctional culture can erode willingness to sell, leading to disengagement, turnover, and a loss of talent. Employees may feel undervalued, unappreciated, or disconnected from the company's objectives, dampening their motivation and enthusiasm. They will gladly "jump ship" for a higher wage.


The Role of Business Processes:

Business processes act as the conduits through which willingness to sell manifests. Efficient and transparent processes streamline workflow, reduce friction between functions, and empower employees to perform at their best.


When employees encounter bureaucratic hurdles, red tape, or inefficiencies, their willingness to sell diminishes. Frustration mounts, morale plummets, and productivity suffers. Conversely, well-designed processes that prioritize clarity, autonomy, and collaboration bolster willingness to sell, enhancing employee satisfaction and retention.


Cultivating a High Willingness to Sell:

To cultivate a high willingness to sell within an organization, leaders must prioritize the following:

  1. Define a Compelling Purpose: Articulate a clear and inspiring purpose to fostering a sense of shared mission and belonging

  2. Nurture a Positive Culture: Articulate your values in concrete behaviors to cultivate a shared understanding and recognize team members for activating these values

  3. Optimize Business Processes: Identify and streamline critical workflows and provide the necessary resources and support to enable employees to continuously improve

  4. Invest in Professional Development: Provide coaching and mentoring opportunities, have a clear path for career advancement, utilize formal training where needed


Prioritizing willingness to sell alongside willingness to buy, you can unlock hidden reservoirs of value. Harness your team's collective passion, talent, and commitment of their workforce to drive sustainable growth and success.


Want to learn more on how the Focus and Align Framework enables this, contact us for a free exploration call:




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