Sales Cultures Are Born Not Created

The great sales driven organizations begin at the beginning. They don’t try to create a sales culture; they roll up their sleeves and breathe life into it. They pay attention to details; they have their ear to the ground; they don’t accept complacency.

There are the TEN STEPS implemented by some of the most successful companies.

It Starts at the Top

Leadership at the top is always about vision…true vision. According to Peter Senge, “The ability to focus on ultimate intrinsic desires, not only on secondary goals, is a cornerstone of personal mastery.” True vision does not stand alone; it must be founded in the why. Senior leadership has the responsibility to provide the reasons behind the vision to breath life into a sales culture. All across their land, the vision and the purpose must be crystal clear.

Scope Out the landscape

Asking sales people why it isn’t working is a waste of time. Sales people can rarely tell you why production is down or why orders are declining. They can only show you! Before any program or training process is initiated, travel with the sales people. Watch them; listen to them; observe the customers. Assess the results based on the time devoted to the sales process. Only then can you determine what support and systems are required.

Get the Right People on the Bus

A great basketball coach once said, “You can’t coach tall.” There are many attributes one can teach a new employee but talent is not one of them. The ability to understand exactly what will be required of the employee to be successful is paramount. The ability to assess each applicant to determine which one has those talents, the will to use them and the desire to succeed is never underestimated in the great companies. Most successful companies use a tried & true assessment tool.

Pick a Language

The words used in the everyday interactions between departments are part of the sales culture. Great companies develop an internal language shared across disciplines. At Starbucks, it’s “partners” and the “Starbucks Experience”. How the customer is described, client, guest, resident, customer must be identical across product lines. Where the sales person is in the sales process should be definable by everyone using the same language.
What Gets Measured Gets Done!

No one likes to complete reports, especially sales people. Keep the reports simple and relevant to their success. But have them and set clear expectations that they are an integral part of the strategic planning process. They should be used to measure the success of the current programs and direction of the sales force. The goals that are incorporated in the reports should be agreed upon by both sales person and manager.

Welcome Them Onboard

Starbucks has a 104 page work book on coffee to be completed in 90 days; Carrabba’s Italian Grill has a six week paid training schedule for the wait staff to learn every ingredient in its dishes. At my local salon, new stylists give shampoos for one year while they work beside an experienced stylist. How can one sell something about which they know nothing? “Knowledge is Power” claims Howard Schultz of Starbucks fame.

Accountability Rules

Accountability is one of the words most likely to cause discomfort when speaking with senior management. While that may be understandable, a sales culture can not exist where accountability does not. If goals are reasonable and measurable there is no reason why the sales team should not be held accountable to meeting certain standards. Senior leaders carry the responsibility of assuring accountability exists across all disciplines.

Reward and Celebrate

According to First Break All the Rules, most of us have our values in place by the age of thirteen. A company culture which rewards those values important to its’ people will have happy and productive employees. Consider this scenario. A sales manager hires a talented and experienced sales person whose main value is Aesthetic (love of peace and harmony).The company sales process is chaotic and requires multiple approvals and confrontation. How well do you think the new salesman will do? Rewarding everyone’s values and celebrating the successes that matter to them create a flourishing sales culture.

Surprise and Delight

Nothing drives a thriving sales culture better than a great product and outstanding customer service. Whether it is Pepsi, Hertz, Starbucks or the local café… always deliver more than you promise.

Breathing life into a sales culture and keeping it thriving and robust takes work. However, as the great companies have proven, commitment from the very top combined with passion and purpose for the product produces results. These great companies enjoy low turnover, high returns and long-standing success.