Tuesday, 2 April 2002

Culture: The Sales Driver Or Sales Killer

Have you ever walked into a business, looked around at the drained energy in the office and wanted to ask, "Who died?" You just walked into a culture catastrophe. Culture is one of those elusive factors of business success that most organizations can't seem to get their hands and minds around. Sales culture is even more elusive and to create it, you need everyone indoctrinated from the janitor to the CEO.

So what is sales culture? Let's look at two different stories to answer this question.

Not a Sales Culture:

Jack is the V.P. of sales and works for Culture Catastrophe. Every morning he gets in around 9:17 while he tells his team to be in at 8:00. Jack locks himself in his office and only comes out for his numerous trips to the coffee shop and then his subsequent numerous trips to the bathroom. Jack's sales people are constantly dealing with the operations group to get their orders done and operations really doesn't care about getting them done. Sally in operations constantly tells her co-workers that she is only required to process X number of orders per day and pressures them not do more because the company is going to expect more from everybody. Sally is constantly missing deadlines and frustrating sales and customers. When Jack's team tells him, Jack says there is nothing he can do because the Operations V.P. is constantly defending her team. By 4:00 jack has had it and he packs up and goes home. Consequently, so does his sales team and everyone wonders why sales are stagnant.

True Sales Culture:

Mike is the V.P. of sales and an integral part of Culture Nirvana. Every morning he gets in at 7:30 and tells his sales force to be in at 8:00. Funny enough, the entire sales force shows up at 7:30. By 8:00 they already went through their email and are ready to start selling. About three times a week, there isn't a sales person in the office by 9:30 because they are all out on customer appointments. The operations team processes orders on time and understand they are an integral part of the sales process. In addition, they consistently bring sales opportunities to the sales force that they uncover while working with the customers through the order process. The sales force loves Mike as he assists them to close sales and helps clear hurdles. Mike usually doesn't leave until about 6:00 but creates a culture of accountability and respect where everyone is free to come and go as they need to, as long as they are hitting their numbers. The revenues of Culture Nirvana consistently climb year over year.

These may seem like to fairyland tales but they are being played out in tens of thousands of businesses each and every day. An integrated sales culture is what separates success from failure and in many cases, growing businesses from what we call, a "thready pulse." In medical terms this means a pulse that is very fine and scarcely perceptible; or in other words, you could die at any time.

So create a sales culture in your organization where everyone has their eye on the importance of selling and generating new sales. Make sure that you have:

Spent the time to train every single employee on what it is the company does/offers.
Continue to put the entire organization's eye on the prize when it comes to revenue targets.
Make the entire organization accountable for a sale
Create a healthy atmosphere of "It's us against the world, and we are going to win together."
Some of these may sound glib, but they aren't. They are powerful drivers and once you start, you will watch the sales culture take on a life of it's own. However, be aware that culture is set from the top(CEO/Leader) and flows through the entire organization. If you are a leader of a business, you need to inject a ton of enthusiasm into the culture to get your employees engaged. So, get up, get rolling and get your sales culture kicked in and watch it fly.

This article was written by Dominic Mazzone, Managing Partner of Smashbox Consulting.

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