Your overall company culture will have some important sub-cultures attached to it. One of those is your sales culture. When a sales culture is healthy, it can attract really good talent and promote success and productivity. A healthy sales culture should spur your salespeople on to more customers, more deals and a better company cash flow.
The best way to measure and clearly identify your sales culture is with a survey and alignment tool. These usually reveal things such as high turnover, resentment and rivalries, poor attitudes and a lack of interest in being part of a team.
While this post is not comprehensive and you will need data to uncover your organization’s specific cultural and climate issues, here are 8 basic keys you can ponder to help turn your sales culture into something more productive than it may be today.
1. Encourage Competition
Top sales performers love to be competitive and they love to win. The balance of keeping your sales performers focused on the right ways to achieve and win are important. One thing you can do is give your team a common enemy to work against. You can encourage and spur them on to outsell or outperform your biggest competitor. At the same time, make sure their number one focus is around the customer. Getting too focused on a competitor can cause sales productivity to go off into directions you didn’t intend, so put the customer at the center of your value proposition.
2. Have Low Turnover Among Your Top Performers
Your top performers not only give your other salespeople a model to try to emulate but keeping them from turning over signals to everyone else they are happy where they are. As far as reducing turnover among your middle and lower sales levels, make sure you interview, use a talent assessment and hire selectively. Increase your chances of lowering your turnover and also improving your culture by using a combination of science and best practices
3. Provide Excellent Training and Ongoing Learning
Make sure you design a training curriculum and calendar that covers the basic fundamentals again and again. Coach John Wooden, one of the winningest college basketball coaches of all time, started each year’s practice program with how to put on your socks and how to tie your basketball shoes. Make sure your salespeople know your products and services inside and out, along with prospecting, qualifying, closing, hunting, farming, and other valuable sales practices.
4. Become an Excellent Coach
Coaching is best as a 1:1 exercise. It must be specific and delivered in a way that best speaks to the individual. Coaching is about diagnosing each sales reps area for improvement. This is not training; this is development for your people. It is also about finding your coaching style and then developing individualized development plans for each of your salespeople. Do not be a bad manager who coaches all your people the same. If you do, then you have become trapped into a one size fits all box, which will fail and kill your morale.
5. Hire an Excellent Coach for Yourself
All great performers have a coach. If you want to improve your skills and performance as a manager plus make more compensation due to results, you need a coach to help you succeed and build your culture of results. Even you have some dangerous blind spots and the way to handle that is to hire someone who is good and on the outside of your company. You will need to commit to the growth and change required and the coach will help you with ideas and suggestions while holding you accountable. You will become a great coach by being coached by someone great.
6. Your People Will Respect What You Inspect
Make sure you follow up on important tasks you ask your salespeople to do. If you just conducted training with them last week on a particular topic, ask to go with them on a call to see if they are implementing. Or perhaps you can simply have a short conversation about it at the water cooler. You can ask them to send you a plan on achieving a specific goal you want them to be accountable to achieve. Take time to review the plan and follow through with any suggestions. Many managers ask for things to be done and then do not follow up or check up to see if it’s implemented or not.
7. Make Sure You Emphasize Activity Over Results
Never ask “did you sell anything today?” This only emphasizes results. Ask “what did you do today to be successful?” While sales is a numbers game, salespeople cannot control who buys from them and who does not. At the same time, whoever sees the greatest number of qualified prospects in the least amount of time has the greatest chance of winning. Keeping activity high while having a repeatable process in place that focuses on the quality of the sales message is key to long-term success.
8. Do What You Can to Boost Self-Esteem
Salespeople can quite often be the highest income earners in your organization. Some salespeople are going to struggle because of the consistent rejection on a daily basis. Put the importance of what they are doing at the forefront of your daily interaction with them. You may even want to introduce some gamification into your sales process to help motivate them in a different but effective way. Find other ways to build them up and back them with positive belief and reinforcement.
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