Do you have a positive sales culture within your business?

Written by: James White

Do you have a positive sales culture within your business? Have you got a team of people that work for you that are passionate about helping the company scale and grow to the next level?

If you have you are in a great position to achieve whatever you want to over the course of the next few years. If you haven’t and the culture is more toxic than positive then you’ve got some problems that you need to deal with. 

Here are some key tips I recommend you implement into your sales team to improve your sales culture.

DO YOUR TEAM FULLY UNDERSTAND YOUR VISION?

When it comes to building a sales culture in your business the first part is finding out whether your team understand and believes and acts out your vision, your mission and your values as a company. One of the first things we do when we work with any new company is we ask them about their vision, their mission and their values and what makes them tick. We ask them if we were to cut them open like a stick of rock what would the words be on the inside? 

In my business it’s all about helping small business owners get incredible results and everything I do is there to make that happen and to improve that but what are the mission, vision and values that your company have and more importantly could your sales team actually recite them and know exactly what they mean. 

 

If you haven’t got a culture that’s embedded from the start in strong visions and strong missions that mean something that are more than just making money or trying to earn off other people then it’s going to be a key factor in helping build sales success for your company. 

 

Simon Sinek always says that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. When it comes to business to business sales it’s really critical that you have a strong vision that excites people that makes people feel they want to work with you and be part of what you’re doing. Having that in place is critical and if you’ve got people in your team who are part of that vision then your culture is going to grow and your sales team are going to know what the key factors are that hone them all together and keeps them going. If you haven’t got your vision and your mission and your values clear, get them clear it’s the driving force behind any successful sales culture. 

DO YOUR TEAM UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF SALES?

Does everyone in your business understand the importance of sales activity within the company, and within the companies goals and plans? Many companies I talk to have a target to achieve revenue of £x million over a course of a year and they think it’s the job of one team to make that happen.  When I talk to other team members in other departments they often say: “That’s not my job, that’s someone else’s.” The common problem is that the teams are not linked together and a “us vs them”  ethos emerges, which ultimately isn’t going to enable the business to grow successfully.

Whether they’re publicly limited and they want to go to the stock market or whether they’re just based upon individual owners most companies have a plan to grow to get to that next point. They want to achieve results because achieving something is better than failing!

If you have a plan to get to the next level, think about how you are going to involve everybody in the process.  How do you show your customer service team, or your product/service delivery team how you approach sales activity?

The key thing is we’ve got to understand that sales isn’t just the job of one group of people, it’s everyone’s job!   Everyone should feel comfortable enough to come forward to share ideas.

Of course, you need a sales team in place to focus on doing the day-to-day sales activity, but in any good team, you need all of the other departments to feel important and involved in the process to want to then help the company to sell and grow.

Make sure everyone is involved with the results that are coming in and what activity is taking place. Doing this will help the company to achieve its goals. 

HOW DO YOU MEASURE SUCCESS?

How are you measuring success and have you got metrics and criteria for success in place that are realistic?

In my business we are really clear about what the targets are and what we’ve got to do to try and achieve those targets.  We ensure that the targets are realistic in the first place so that the sales team and the whole wider team don’t feel that the goal they’ve got is unachievable.

I sometimes work with companies where the owners come up with targets that is 5 or 6 times higher than what it previously was and everyone is looking confused and concerned with how they are going to make that happen. They have no metrics in place to be able to help them get to that point either. 

There is no point putting your finger in the air and coming up with a random number.  This will leave your team unsure of how it is going to be done, and they remove themselves from the situation. 

Guess what happens then? Nothing! It becomes a negative culture as they don’t know how to reach the goals set, so they do nothing. 

Focus on three or four key metrics (success criteria) that you can use to assess how well you’re doing and measure them on a weekly basis. 

It could be: 

  • The number of new leads coming in
  • The number of leads you’re converting
  • The number of leads that move through your sales process
  • The number of sales conversations you are having a week

Whatever you decide are your key metrics for your business, make sure you have them in place and that everyone in the company has access to be able to see them and see what you are asking them to achieve. Be open to hearing suggestions from the team and have team discussions so everyone is involved in the process.

Sales is the number that happens and is the number that everyone reports on and sees but it happens when everyone has a clear set of criteria to work to, a target, a plan, and an outline of what’s going to happen. When those are in place and are clear and realistic everyone gets motivated and they get driven to achieve something and when it does then get achieved everyone feels amazing and enjoys the success of the company.

Make sure everyone’s involved and the criteria are set, and monitor what you’re doing. Share with others and you will be in a great position to build the culture the way that you want to. 

WHAT DIRECTION ARE YOU GOING IN?

One key point that stops sales culture from developing is when owners continually change the direction of what they want to do.

I am guilty of having done this myself in my previous business.  I was busy focusing on generating the revenue and just bringing money in, and when opportunities came by (that may be a bit different to our vision and what we wanted to achieve), I focused on them because they were money.

I wanted to bring them in and it made half the people in the business unsure of what we were doing.  They became disillusioned by what I was doing and it meant they didn’t want to then get involved and drive the sales culture forward. 

If you really focus on the path that you are on, and you are clear on what you want to achieve, then you have the best chance for your sales culture to grow.

Don’t focus on short-term things.  Focus rather on the long-term impacts of doing consistently good work over a period of time.  Use your vision and your mission as your compass and it should enable you to deal with whatever life throws at you, and whatever opportunities come to you.

Look and see whether an opportunity meets and matches what you are trying to achieve. If it doesn’t you can politely decline.

That culture is critical! Don’t change time and time again just because of wanting more opportunities.  Keep focus on your vision and be consistent in your approach.

Great leadership is about dealing with the tough times even when they come through so everyone can see the endpoint and know you’re going to work to get there no matter what the challenges may be along the way. 

DO YOU HAVE A STRUCTURED WAY OF OPERATING?

One sure way of creating a toxic culture in your business is to let everyone go on and do their own thing.  A brilliant way to create a strong culture is to have a structured way of operating that everyone buys into and works by.

What I mean by that is that I’ve seen organisations where salespeople have just focused on getting the numbers in and they’ve used any method they can to get results. This very seldom resulted in anything good for the company!

Organisations that have a culture of everyone pulling together and going in the same direction, who have a clear process they work to and use actively to engage with new prospects and to win new business do far better.  Every single member of that sales team will play within that framework.  Of course people might have slightly different scripts or slightly different approaches when engaging (making it their own), but everyone knows what the focus is. 

It enables everyone to be consistent it enables everyone to be measured so they’re accountable to each other. It enables the management to be able to see how people are doing, it also creates a sense of everyone moving in the same direction and the rules are the same. When you let different people do whatever they want to, it creates a culture of “it’s ok for them, so it’s ok for me to do what I want”. This will create bad habits and bad practices which can be damaging.

Allow everyone to build and buy into the structures that you’re doing, get them involved in the process and once you’ve settled on something work through and implement that and get everyone behind it. Yes it can be tweaked and amended but make sure everyone’s focused on delivering a consistent process and structure and way of operating. If you do it’s going to form that culture and make your team feel united in getting the results you want.

YOU HAVE TO TRUST YOUR TEAM

To create a great culture you have to build trust in the team that you work with. I’ve seen again some managers and business owners who say they trust their people and then ask for constant updates each day on what has been done.  They all ask for information on what’s happened in certain deals because they don’t trust the person who’s actually doing that work for them.

Why don’t they trust them?  Because they feel that person has got their own method and they’re not following for framework. They don’t have the difficult conversation to insist they operate in the same way as everyone else,  and think it’s better to leave them alone as it is less hassle. They’d rather just check up on them because they’ve been burned before.

When these things happen, you create a sense of distrust in your sales team.  If you’re not going to trust them, then why should they do anything more than they should do? Of course have key criteria in place, it’s important to measure your sales team with targets!  If you start to micromanage people,  and you start picking holes in little things that they do, chances are you’re going to start to then see people only doing the minimum and that’s going to give you the minimum result.  This isn’t the culture that you want to really grow and build a brilliant sales culture. 

Culture is critical and it comes when we trust people.  We must enable them to focus on a clear plan and a clear goal and we let them get on with doing it.  If we do that we’re going to see results.  Of course monitor metrics, but let people be free to make the decision within the frame that you set then you’re going to see your business thrive and grow.

When you’re engaging with your sales team and the people that are involved in the sales process, how do you go about that management style and process? Do you literally look at them and constantly criticise and wonder why they’re not doing things?  Do you query why they haven’t done certain things at certain times, and look and say “what happened there?” and “what’s going on here?” and “why did you do this?”   

Or do you help and support in a positive way?  Do you engage with them and ask questions in a calm tone so that the person doesn’t feel defensive and distrusted? Keep the conversation about them and show you’re intrigued to find out what they are doing well.  Show them that you want to support them in areas they may be struggling so that you can learn and grow as a team.

When you’re consistently criticising and making people feel like failure, they will want to avoid you.  You’re going to get people trying to cover their backsides, you’re going to get people lying saying it wasn’t their fault, and you’re going to get people taking no personal responsibility.  When that happens, the culture starts to fall apart and it’s not going to get you and your team what you want. 

These points are the things that I know that work to create great sales cultures. It’s not easy, and it takes time.  It can’t be formed in days and can sometimes take weeks and months (or even years) to build a culture where everyone feels empowered and accountable to achieve their best.  The reality is it’s also probably impossible to get everyone feeling the same way (especially in bigger teams) but the key thing in business (and in life) is to get the majority of people in the team feeling positive and involved.  It will spread to everyone else!

It’s going to open up opportunities for things you’ve never thought.  People are going to start seeing opportunities to have conversations, they’re going to ask questions, they’re going to be open to sharing things that they weren’t before, and it’s this culture that enables you to really seize opportunities and to develop and grow.

Focus on the things I’ve told you.  Don’t distrust your team and micromanage them.  This will get everyone doing their own thing and you’re going to get a disjointed team that cares only about themselves.  Eventually, that’s going to cause you business problems. Avoid that and put in place of things I’ve mentioned.

If you are worried about your sales culture and not sure if you even have one, take our scorecard to see if your sales culture is booming or bumbling along:  https://www.boomingorbumbling.com/

Take these tips onboard and implement them in your business.  You will be on the path to success!

Publish date: 23 September 2022

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