Some of My Favorite Quotes For Sales Are About Preparation, Why Is that?

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Preparation for me is part of my coaching that I give on a regular basis and it is a part of the culture that I always instill in sales teams.

I know from personal experience that the more I prepared, the better the results I achieved.

“The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary” Vince Lombardi

Certainly, there is a balance, you don’t want to be stymied and end up not doing anything, but if I was to choose between under preparing and over preparing, I’d pick over preparing in most cases.

“Failure to prepare is preparing to fail” John Wooden

Due to the buyer challenges we face today, sales must step up to the increased expectation around the sales conversation. To meet those expectations, it requires thorough preparation. I think the more seasoned you are, the more knowledge you have, the easier you can adapt and meet each selling situation, but even seasoned sales professionals need to spend time preparing for each customer interaction to ensure they are maximizing that extremely valuable customer face time. Typically, you don’t get a second chance.

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success” Alexander Graham Bell

Getting to the value outcome or solution outcome that matches the client’s needs is the main objective. Getting there requires a deeper understanding of the buyer’s decision process. 

If the value lies not in what you sell, but in the insights and innovative thinking that you bring to the table, then preparation is key.

“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my ax” Abraham Lincoln

Even existing clients are often too busy to return your calls or take the time for a face to face meeting. This is the number one challenge facing sales forces today.

This makes it even more compelling to ensure sales is supported with the tools they need, and the time they need to be ready for their sales engagements. As organizations we must ensure we are not inundating sales with non-sales stuff. We can’t expect sales to be on top of their game and win new opportunities if you have them mired with administrative trivia and other tasks that other departments or support should be taking care of.

“Success is where preparation and opportunity meet” Bobby Unser

That about sums up the challenge. I have said this repeatedly for many years now, the sales rep is the differentiation. I think it has always been that way, but you could get away with more in the past. You could have a good relationship, or you could be the best at follow-up and paying attention to detail. You could have the best solution and price. Now you must have that little bit extra that requires an enormous amount of extra preparation for the rep.

“What you know and how you leverage it is the biggest factor in your success…. How we sell is more important than what we sell” Jill Konrath

One of the most important, limited resources a sales rep has is their time. I am constantly reminding reps with how important their time is, and thus how important it is to spend it wisely. Company’s don’t have a lot patience with numbers not being met. As a result, you need to be productive quickly and consistently to be successful.

“Measure twice before you cut” My Dad

The list of preparation quotes could go on, they are simply an example, to ensure we do not underestimate how important it truly is.

For more information, suggestions, and insights into sales organization imperatives see my website, www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com, and/or order my book The Street Savvy Sales Leader, A Guide To Building Teams That Consistently Win New Business.

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, advising, or speaking engagements

mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

10 Sales Compensation Principles "To Think About" When Designing or Modifying Your 2019 Sales Plans

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When trying to identify the right commission structure, design, and payment method for your sales organization, remember this: the plan needs to start by being aligned with the values, culture, and strategy of the company to ensure that the reps are selling what you want them to sell, in the volume you want them to sell it, and to the customers you have targeted. Equally important is that the reps are highly motivated to make it happen.

The sales compensation plan can also encompass areas that are mission critical to the organization such as customer satisfaction metrics, longer-term contracts and customer retention. Your compensation plan can be individual based or team based or a hybrid of the two. I think they can work equally well depending on the circumstances.

There are some who believe that sales compensation is an outmoded way to pay sales people, I beg to differ in most cases, I will cover that discussion in a separate Blog post-it’s very important but too much to cover here !

The compensation plan should be a collaborative effort from sales, marketing, and finance. It is much better received when the sales organization is engaged from the beginning to ensure it is bought in and it is going to meet the objectives of the organization.

I recall more than one instance where a compensation plan was launched without sales input and there were glaring challenges that ended up derailing many meetings and slowing sales momentum with a lot of water cooler talk about how the compensation plan is not working or is flawed in one way or another.

My experience suggests that time after time if you engage some sales representation in input to how you pay them or how you want to change how you pay them, that input can help prevent many potential mine fields. I have witnessed this first hand more than once.

I have been engaged in many compensation committees, designs, plan development, and implementations. The best experiences were in situations where the sales group was engaged along the way. 

I experienced one organization whose compensation plan was the most complex I have ever seen in my entire career in sales. There were way too many gates to reach to make plan, and it took an inordinate amount of time to fully understand how you were getting paid. This was a recipe for disaster,and resulted in a sales team that was not fully engaged.

 

10 suggested rules to follow in the overall thought process when developing a sales compensation plan;

 

1) The compensation plan needs to be in keeping with the overall objectives, culture, and strategy of the organization.

2) Ensure the plan is in sync with your company’s marketing efforts and go to market strategy, its critical that sales and marketing be aligned and one way to do that is thru compensation (entire separate discussion warranted on this topic).

3) The plan needs to be within the company’s budget and be able to be launched from a systems perspective.

4) Base versus upside comp needs to be determined, how aggressive do you want the upside vs base pay. Do you pay on sales or margin (separate discussion altogether)?

5) The plan should be clear and simple; the sales force should not need a financial analyst or a lawyer to help them figure out how they are going to get paid. Believe me, I have seen examples of this.

6) The design of the plan should be different for different types of sales roles. A hunter or business development role or builder/farmer should each have a different plan. Gaining a new client is much different from retaining and growing an existing client and the plan should reflect that difference. A territory rep plan should be different from a major account management rep plan.

7) The plan should be clearly measurable, meaning the reps should be able to understand that if they sell x they will earn y. There is no place for ambiguity in a sales compensation plan.

8) The plan needs to be motivating, the reps should to be able to review it and say to themselves, “yes I understand this”, “I know why the company structured it this way”, “I know why they want to pay me this way”. “I get it and I know what I have to do to earn the income that I signed up for and potentially more on overachievement”.

9) The plan can include professional behavior or performance management elements, it can include a team element if that is deemed important as well.

10) The plan should also be timely. This means a couple of things;

a) The plan should be launched prior to the new selling year or as a minimum, in conjunction with the new selling year. The sales force should know right from the get-go in the new year how they are going to be paid. There should be no guessing, conjecture, or hearsay.

b) Payment should be made in a timely fashion, either soon after the month closes for a monthly plan or soon after the closing of a sale. If paid on billed revenue than as soon after the bill is sent as possible.

c) Any disputes or issues should be dealt with rapidly. Don’t nickel and dime the sales force, it will demotivate the reps.

 

When it’s time to launch the compensation plan there should be a well thought out launch plan. Issuance of the documentation (the actual plan), including examples, a presentation and review session from management, or the compensation plan owners explaining in detail how the plan works using examples, the rationale behind the plan, along with Q and A.

 

For more information, suggestions, and insights into sales compensation and other sales organization imperatives see my website, www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com, and/or order my book The Street Savvy Sales Leader, A Guide To Building Teams That Consistently Win New Business.

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, advising, or speaking engagements

mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

Are You Having Productive One on Ones With Your Sales Team Members?

Photo by Daniil Silantey on Unsplash

Photo by Daniil Silantey on Unsplash

Are You Having Productive One on Ones With Your Sales Team Members?

A Brief Guide to Conducting Meaningful Sales Rep One on Ones

 

I have always had the practice of meeting salespeople one-on-one every week, even if it was over the phone. My experience is that even the most experienced and seasoned salespeople need and want one-on-one interaction, whether it be for encouragement, help with problem-solving, support with strategic thinking, assistance with call planning or reviews, or internal help, like guidance on collaborating to receive support from other departments.

Even if they know what they need to do, having someone to bounce ideas off is extremely helpful. The essential thing is that the manager needs to be able to add value to the sales representative—they need to be able to help in some way. If the manager doesn’t add or offer any value, the one-on-ones won’t be of any value and won’t be welcomed. In fact, the reps will do whatever they can to avoid the manager, as they will be viewed as a waste of reps’ time.

In my one-on-ones I would always have a specific agenda but also always left time open for free dialogue. The agenda typically included:

 

actions review from previous meeting

results (or the lack thereof)

funnel review and discussion

what needed to be done to move business forward

strategic account planning

help/resources needed

current or immediate known challenges or issues

potential challenges or risks

any coaching opportunities that may have arisen and not yet been covered

personal/career development discussion, if needed or requested

any actions requiring follow-up

open discussion that may surface items

 

You want to ensure that these meetings aren’t viewed as simply the manager’s way to get caught up and keep an eye on things so that they are seen as being on top of things for their boss. While it is certainly important to catch up, the focus should be on the actual coaching and value-add of the manager–sales representative discussion. It’s not about you the manager, its about the rep and how you can help him or her be the best they can possibly be.

During the writing of my book The Street Savvy Sales Leader, I went through the process of becoming a professionally certified business coach by the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (Conducted by Shift Coaching, shiftcoaching.ca). It was an extensive process that included several interactive training clinics, a substantial reading list, role-playing, observing practice-coaching sessions and putting in actual real-time, practical coaching hours. In all, the certification entailed well in excess of 70 hours[LC1]  of effort.

I wish I had gone through a coaching process like this earlier in my sales management career, as I would have been a more effective leader and coach if I had. I would recommend becoming a certified coach (from a reputable organization) to any dedicated Sales manager. It will make you a more seasoned, thoughtful and respected Sales leader.

Again, actual coaching means that you need to develop consistent and regular conversations that serve to help the sales process and sales rep development. These conversations need to be planned and must link to what you are trying to achieve as an organization and the culture you are creating.

Any additional thoughts and ideas on one on ones?, Would love to hear them, it is so important and needs to be a priority in all Sales Managers schedule.

For more information and insights into sales organization imperatives see my website,  www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com , or to pre order my upcoming book, The Street Savvy Sales Leader, A Guide to Building Teams that Consistently Win New Business.

Street Savvy Sales Leadership offers individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, advising, and speaking engagements.

If you have any questions or comments, please email me at mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

 

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com

 

My Garage Station Sales Preparation Aha Moment !!!

Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

I just had an aha moment after needing my car to be repaired at a small family owned and operated service station in a small town of a population of 3,000.

I got to talking to the co-owner of the garage while I was waiting for my car to be finished. This couple  bought the business 3 years ago and they have tripled the business in that period.

Their customer service was impeccable, and you knew they treated their employees (perhaps 5  employee’s in total) like gold.

The co-owner explained to me that they paid their mechanic higher than any other mechanic in the region, gave him 4 weeks off a year, paid vacation, and supplied lunch every single day.

That mechanic treated the business like it was his own.

After my service was complete they went over in detail what they had done and explained to me that the parts were under warranty and that if anything goes wrong, let them know and they’ll make sure they fix it, they then gave me their card so I could call anytime.

The real point of my story is that the one partner used to be a sales person before buying this business. I mentioned that I was in sales to and had written a book about sales. She was intrigued and said she would buy one of my books for sure. There you go, I made a quick sale in the middle of nowhere.

She then went on to say that she knew how difficult it can be to be a sales person and her business receives calls all the time from sales people wanting her business. Whether it be for tools, insurance, cleaning supplies you name it.

Because of her experience as a sales person herself, she is particularly sensitive to sales people and makes sure that when they call she is kind and doesn’t just fluff them off.

The aha moment for me came when I learned very quickly that the sales challenges that I write about extensively are much more pervasive than I imagined.  Sure my book applies to all B2B business, but I really didn’t think in terms of this small an example.

She told me the story of receiving a call from a sales person asking to speak to the owner. She politely asked the sales person if they knew what the owner’s name was. The sales rep responded that no he didn’t know the name but wanted to speak with whoever it was.

She promptly hung up and told me, if a rep can’t even be prepared enough and do the research to know who the owners of the business are, they don’t get any time with me.

Here is a small b2b business owner, in a small town, far from any sized city environment, and she wants a better B2B sales experience. She wants more from sales people.

Just think of how important and how prepared you need to be in every sales interaction, and multiply that 10x for larger and more complex sales engagements.

Buyers expectations are higher than they have ever been, and I mean pretty much any buyer.

Do not underestimate the importance of preparing--if you don't prepare, be prepared to fail.

For more information and insights into sales organization imperatives see my website,  www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com , or to pre order my upcoming book, The Street Savvy Sales Leader, A Guide to Building Teams that Consistently Win New Business.

Street Savvy Sales Leadership offers individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, advising, and speaking engagements.

If you have any questions or comments, please email me at mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

 

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com

The Top Three Challenges Facing Sales Organizations Today And What To Do About It !

Photo by Shane Rounce

Photo by Shane Rounce

This is definitely my most important post so far.

While companies all face different challenges, there are three universal ones plaguing the sales industry today:

1. The buyer’s journey has changed dramatically. There are now more decision makers in every sales situation; the buyer is busier, more knowledgeable and more risk-averse; the buyer’s expectations of the sales profession are much higher; and the decision process is more complex. Thus, it is harder than ever to move a buyer to make a change.

2. It is tougher than ever before to differentiate your offering. Companies and salespeople are struggling to stand out and truly offer something of sincere value in every step of the sales process to their customers in a very crowded market. Even if you have a product or service that can be differentiated it’s still tough to get buyer mindshare.

3. Sales reps are facing increasingly complex and time-challenging demands. Companies want more data (typically through CRM platforms), reps need to be more knowledgeable about their product and more prepared for every sales interaction than they ever have and there is greater pressure on reps to provide consistently higher sales. The reps may not receive sufficient support, so they need to work harder to balance increased internal demands against winning more sales.

 

So, here we have the perfect storm: a more complex and challenging customer environment, where more time is essential to properly prepare for each customer interaction; a proliferation of products and competitors that makes differentiation more challenging; and increased expectations for both sales achievements and non-selling activities.

 

My strident message to senior sales leaders and B to B executives and owners;

You absolutely cannot have your cake and eat it, too. Sales needs the time to focus on selling and, at the same time, the sales organization needs to close the gap between buyers’ expectations and the sales community’s skills and expertise.

So if you want to be a world class sales organization, give your team the tools and support they need and let your sales people sell. Do not overburden them with non selling stuff !!!

 

Creating a Best-in-Class Sales Team

I have witnessed firsthand these increased challenges in the marketplace and in the customer mindset, yet I believe sales remains an exciting and rewarding career. Despite what others may suggest, sales is not dead, it is evolving. And we in the field must adapt.

In order to meet business growth objectives, you need to overcome today’s challenges. The only way to do that is to build a best-in-class sales team. By best-in-class, I mean a sales organization built on a solid foundation that’s composed of a winning, supportive and collaborative sales culture; caring leadership; an effective hiring process; a strong sales process with robust analytics; proven execution; a customer-driven philosophy; and a mindset of continuous improvement and learning.

 

Below are the 10 imperatives that I believe are critical for developing a sales organization that will help you win in the marketplace and meet your revenue goals.

 

1. A well-thought-out, customized hiring process to find the candidates with the most potential to succeed.

2. A defined onboarding program and talent management system that will get your new hires firing on all cylinders as quickly as possible and keep them that way.

3. A finely tuned sales process and funnel management.

4. Appropriate key performance indicators, metrics and analytics to measure success.

5. Sales planning to ensure you are calling on the right targets and that your salespeople are focused.

6. Sales methodology to ensure consistency and effectiveness in the sales process.

7. Effective real-time coaching to help your salespeople be their best.

8. Compensation and reward and recognition programs that are aligned with what you need to achieve.

9. Change management, because change is here to stay.

10. A caring, high-performance culture where sales employees feel they are a part of something of value and where they can express themselves and collaborate freely in a team environment.

 

These imperatives will enable your sales leadership to create a best-in-class sales team, which will provide your organization with the best possible opportunity to win in the marketplace.

 

It is these 10 imperatives that my book, The Street Savvy Sales Leader is all about.

 

For more information and insights into sales organization imperatives see my website,  www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com , or to pre order my upcoming book, The Street Savvy Sales Leader, A Guide to Building Teams that Consistently Win New Business.

Street Savvy Sales Leadership offers individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, advising, and speaking engagements.

If you have any questions or comments, please email me at mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

 

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com

My Take On the Key Hallmarks of Top Sales Professionals-Heads up ! there's more than 5

Photo by Joshua Earle

Photo by Joshua Earle

Sorry, it’s more than 5 !

I have had the privilege of working alongside some of the best salespeople in the business. The most successful salespeople I have worked with have a mixture of some of these qualities:

1. They are the most focused. They know what they needed to accomplish. They are organized. There are always issues that can distract you. The best reps acknowledge the issues, work on solving them or bringing them to management’s attention, and then they move on and get back to their plan.

2. They always think about what the customer is thinking. This canny ability allows the rep to determine what the customer’s challenges are, understand the problems and thus see the opportunities.

3. They have a sincere desire to achieve. This means they are tenacious and confident, and possess willpower, courage and determination. They sell with passion. I often ask customers the question “Why did you choose us to do business with?” You might be surprised to learn that the answer is sometimes dead simple: the relationship, trust, service, price, references, et cetera. But one answer that stands out because I heard it more often was this: “The account team wanted it more than any other team. They worked for it; they were tenacious.”

4. They are persuasive and are aware of the behavioral buying patterns of customers. Eighty percent of decisions are made on emotions. The top salespeople are attuned to the emotions or emotional states of their buyers.

5. They are superb listeners. They sincerely care and are empathetic (high on the emotional intelligence scale

6. They are responsive. They deal with problems quickly, and they honor their commitments and promises to their support team and their customers.

7. They are positive and enthusiastic. Enthusiasm spreads, as you know. A person walks into a room with that special kind of energy that can change the dynamic in the room. The same goes for the reverse. Enthusiasm is contagious, but it’s a balancing act—don’t overdo it. It may not come across as sincere.

8. They are naturally curious. They read voraciously. I always suggest to reps that they stay up to date with what’s going on in the world around them, as this helps tremendously when meeting with and talking to clients. Natural curiosity then extends to a sincere desire to question and inquire and to learn more about their customers.

9. They have goals and they make plans for the day, week, month, quarter and year ahead.

10. They do their homework and prepare, and then prepare some more. I’m not sure I can emphasize enough how important preparation is. Preparation for a sales call, for a bid, an overall account strategic plan—the person who has a plan is in control. Remember the words from the great John Wooden, one of the greatest college basketball coaches in history: “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.”

11. They know their company, its products and its services, and they have the ability to communicate a compelling story to their prospects.

12. They are great at building rapport and relationships, and so they are quick to gain credibility and win trust.

13. They are the hardest-working and the most committed. Sales success does not come without effort. Salespeople acquire knowledge through hard work and a burning desire to succeed.

14. They have the ability to call on the right people at the right time, with the right message. This sounds easy, but it takes a lot of the skills described above to make this happen.

15. They are highly adaptable to change and technologically literate. They know the power of the internet, social media (especially LinkedIn) and computer technology and apps that help them communicate with customers. New tools will continue to impact the way we relate.

16. They understand collaboration and are never afraid to get help when and where they need it. Selling today is about team selling more than ever. You typically can’t win opportunities by yourself. You need help.

17. They are trustworthy and guided by integrity. They do what they say they are going to do, and they stand up for what is right. I believe that if you are honest and do the right thing, you will win business and be rewarded.

In the highly demanding business world of today, sales professionals are expected to be financially literate (e.g., know how to read a balance sheet and income statement) and to be industry experts, relationship builders and company collaborators. Their customers expect the rep to be their voice and to have that voice be respected. There is no limit to the variety of challenges, people and opportunities the sales profession offers, with both financial and professional awards beckoning.

I believe that selling is an honorable vocation and is attracting different and new talent because of the challenges, varied experience and rewards it offers. It’s important to me to keep evangelizing the caring nature of the role, the code of ethics it needs to abide by and the fact that it’s a profession that exists, primarily, to help people and organizations make good business decisions that will help their business thrive.

I would love to hear your viewpoint on the top selling hallmarks, please feel free to comment.

To read about other sales leadership topics or to increase your sales productivity check out my website www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com .

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, or advising feel free to contact me by email mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

 

Listen Up Sales Leaders; What did over 100 sales professionals express to me about what was important to them in receiving coaching?

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During the writing of my upcoming book (The Street Savvy Sales Leader, due out September 2018, Figure 1 publisher) I interviewed over 100 sales professionals one on one.

One of the questions I asked was to tell me about coaching that you’ve experienced in your sales career that helped make a positive difference for you.

Four main themes emerged over all others:

Number 1: Trust. The reps needed to know that their manager was genuine and sincere and had their best interests at heart. This meant listening to the reps, asking questions and being open to ideas and constructive feedback. If the leader was trusted, feedback was given  freely.

Number 2: It was important that the coaching was specific to each individual’s needs and goals. Reps wanted the coaching to be unique to them personally. They said they much preferred real-world, relatable examples to textbook scenarios. The reps also indicated that they were much more responsive to collaborative coaching rather than a directive style that simply told them how to do a task.

Number 3: Salespeople need coaching not only to come from a credible source but also to be credible. In other words, the Sales leader is leading by example because of their experience and expertise. The rep values the coach’s viewpoint and recognizes the benefit of creative new ideas and strategic account and sales call assistance.

Number 4: Coaching needs to be timely, even in real time if necessary, and relevant. The immediate application of coaching lessons leads to sticky behavior. Regularly scheduled coaching calls will reap benefits.

Below is a summary of coaching fundamentals that I believe are imperative to a successful sales coaching environment.

         1) Coaching practices need to be developed, supported and maintained company-wide.

         2) Coaching is about listening and asking questions; it’s about helping salespeople be self-aware and staying on a continuous path of learning.

         3) Managers need to gain trust in order to coach most effectively, and they need to genuinely care about their people.

         4) Coaching needs to be specific and relevant to the needs and goals of every individual.

        5) Expectations need to be set up front. What are the deliverables and expected outcomes?

         6) Coaching needs to add value and come from a place of credibility, experience and relevance.

         7) Good coaching should help salespeople stay focused.

         8) Coaching needs to be timely and have a regular cadence.

         9) Coaching should be hands-on. Time needs to be spent in the field.

         10) Not only are the best coaches creative and innovative, they also help their people think creatively and be innovative.

During the writing of my book, I went through the process of becoming a professionally certified business coach by Shift Coaching Inc (www.shiftcoaching.ca). It was an extensive process that included several interactive training clinics, a substantial reading list, role-playing, observing practice-coaching sessions and putting in actual real-time, practical coaching hours. In all, the entire certification process entailed well in excess of 70 hours of effort.

I wish I had gone through a coaching process like this earlier in my sales management career, as I would have been a more effective leader and coach if I had. I would recommend becoming a certified coach (from a reputable organization) to any dedicated Sales manager. It will make you a more seasoned, thoughtful and respected Sales leader.

Again, actual coaching means that you need to develop consistent and regular conversations that serve to help the sales process and sales rep development. These conversations need to be planned and must link to what you are trying to achieve as an organization.

 

I would love to hear your viewpoint on the coaching experience, please feel free to comment.

 

To read about other sales leadership topics or to increase your sales productivity check out my website www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com .

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, or advising feel free to contact me by email mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

 

How Do You Create A Caring Sales Culture That Will Pay Dividends In Your Sales Teams Results?

Photo by Juan Pablo Rodriguez

Photo by Juan Pablo Rodriguez

Having a productive, collaborative, open, trusting, accountable, high performing sales culture is, arguably, the most important ingredient in a successful overall best-in-class sales organization.  

“Corporate culture,” as defined by Investopedia.com, “refers to the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions. Often, corporate culture is implied, not expressly defined, and develops organically over time from the cumulative traits of the people the company hires. A company’s culture will be reflected in its dress code, business hours, office setup, employee benefits, turnover, hiring decisions, treatment of clients, client satisfaction, and every other aspect of operations.”

Research conducted by Deloitte found that 82 percent of senior executives felt that culture offered a competitive advantage. The company’s research also indicated that when culture and strategy were in alignment, there can be a lift in performance by as much as 50 percent.

I’ve conducted research of my own through over 100 interviews with sales professionals and my findings were consistent with Deloitte’s findings. Ninety-five percent of those I interviewed said that culture played a significant role in the workplace. In fact, when asked the question about the importance of culture, I found it very interesting that more than 50 percent of respondents offered more than a plain “Yes.” Fifty-four percent opined that culture was “100 percent, definitely, absolutely, for sure, hugely, massively super important”. As it was only a yes-or-no question, it caught me off guard that it elicited such an emphatic answer from so many.

When I asked sales professionals to describe what an ideal culture looked like, 77 percent talked about a focus on teamwork. Most comments were about a positive team environment where team members help one other, are focused on common goals, are accountable to one another and push each other to achieve in a collaborative workplace. Interviewees talked about wanting to feel like part of a family and the importance of camaraderie and having an open and honest environment where you can share ideas openly.

So, how do you build an ideal sales culture? How do you create an environment that breeds high performance? How do you create an environment that allows and encourages people to collaborate and thrive? How do you create an environment that facilitates trust and thereby fosters an atmosphere of autonomy, adaptability and lightning-speed execution of what it takes to achieve the desired results? How do you create an organization with an overriding purpose? How do you create a culture that puts the customer first?

Culture is developed over time by quality of leadership, belief in the company’s values and the stories that become part of the fabric of the organization. Culture is supported by your manifesto or mission statement, the people you hire, organizational structure, incentives, reward and recognition, and performance management and coaching. Culture needs to permeate the organization if you want it to be a strong and consistent element of your company.  

Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor, in their book Primed to Perform, define a high- performing culture as “the system that maximizes adaptive performance through total motivation.”1 Part of the central premise in Primed to Perform is that a performance culture, by its very essence, creates an environment where adaptability thrives, and thereby it creates groupings of employees who are optimally engaged, and who are always looking to perform at their best partly by continually looking for ways to make things better. Doshi and McGregor point out that “Culture ... allows us to react to the unpredictable. It is a force of agility.”2

A culture that creates a set of values and places a priority on the needs of the employee as well as the company will be an organization that is more successful and will retain its people much longer. Sales Leaders need to value and care about the individuals on their teams. They are not just individuals that have a job to do for your company. They are individuals who have different needs, wants, emotions and feelings and objectives, which deserve to be recognized. Employees should be respected for their individual differences just as much as the needs of the organization.

The most important element of culture for me is “caring.” How do we create a caring culture? This isn’t solely about caring for your people; it’s about caring about everything. To care is to render significance to everything you do: caring about your customers, caring about your salespeople, caring about your brand and caring about all your stakeholders.

“Culture,” said Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, “is everything. That’s why I try to meet all our new graduate hires. They are our lifeblood! And I keep beating the drum-management is here to serve the workers.”3

It has been proven that emotionally intelligent leadership keeps employees more engaged, enthusiastic and motivated than leaders who create an environment that is not as positive, open and engaging. To me, this is so obvious it should go without saying; but unfortunately, there are many leaders—and I have worked with and for several—who just don’t get it.

The leadership style that does not place a high value on creating a culture of engagement will be stuck in mediocrity. Such a sales culture may do okay, and numbers might be met on occasion, but think of how well the sales organization could do with fully engaged employees and high levels of motivation and morale. The level of commitment would lift performance, the culture would attract good people and churn would be lessened. Where there is little or no emotionally intelligent leadership, people tend to not be as invested in the organization. If salespeople don’t feel they are cared for, they won’t really care about leaving and moving on at the drop of a hat or when given a better offer. This is not hearsay. It is proven.

Culture is very hard to define and difficult to measure, and yet it is critical to a company wanting to be the best of the best, or a sales team wanting to be best-in-breed. It comes with small changes, small acts, small behavioral changes and small value changes. These changes can lead to remarkable shifts in the organization that then lead to increased productivity, performance and retention of employees.

I would love to hear your viewpoint on the caring culture, please feel free to comment.

To read about other sales leadership topics or to increase your sales productivity check out my website www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com .

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, or advising feel free to contact me by email mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

 

1)      Primed To Perform-How To Build The Highest Performing Cultures Through The Science Of Total Motivation, Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor, Harper Collins, 2015, page 54

2)      Primed To Perform-How To Build The Highest Performing Cultures Through The Science Of Total Motivation, Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor, Harper Collins, 2015, page 55

3)      Beyond Measure-The Big Impact of Small Changes. Margaret Hefferman, Ted Books, Simon and Schuster, 2015, page 80