In any business and in any industry, leaders are looking for the difference that makes the difference. Why are some individuals and some organisations unbelievably successful, as if, everything they touch turns to gold, compared to others in the same industry, where nothing seems to work? Is it the products and services they sell, or how they sell them? Is it the individuals within the business that make the difference or is it something else? In looking at successful sales teams, successful businesses and even successful sporting teams, there is a common thread that runs through each and every one of them that consistently and sustainably delivers outstanding results – and that is a great culture.
Show me any company that has delivered long term results and I will show you a great culture. Sure, there are sometimes exceptions to the rule, where companies may experience a high level of success, however, this success in the vast majority of cases is short lived. And in these organisations, it is often the people who pay the price, with attrition and turnover being the result. When this happens, this result is often a drop in sales and revenue, and the cycle continues.
What these organisations overlook is the critical importance of culture within their business because for a lot of people, ‘culture’ is often a soft target, something that doesn’t deliver the end result. Actually, the opposite is true. In fact, from a sales perspective, a great sales culture is everything. Not only will you see great results being delivered on a consistent basis, you will also see that the engagement of the team is high, the turnover or attrition rate of the team is low, and the overall energy of the team is exceptional.
Teams like this become a destination that others want to be a part of. Yes, these teams have a robust sales process and methodology they follow, and unlike other organisations, this process and methodology does not change drastically over time. It is consistent. Why? Because these organisations understand that it is their sales culture that drives the organisation. They understand that a great sales culture is everything. When studying these organisations, there are a number of components that make up a great sales culture. Here are 5 critical elements that every great sales culture has. Does your team have these?
- Crystal Clear Vision & Purpose – many organisations and definitely many leaders, pay lip service to this element, to their detriment. Every great sales culture has a crystal clear vision and purpose. They know why they are doing what they are doing and why it matters. These organisations invest time in developing their environment and bringing every member of the team together, aligned to a common objective. And this vision and purpose is bigger than any individual. When it comes to bringing on new members to the team, the vision and purpose is one of the big filters that the leader utilises to select new talent. If the individual aligns to the vision, there is a match. If they don’t, the process ends there. For your team, what is your vision and purpose? Get really clear on this – it is the foundation of a great sales culture.
- Excellent Positive Attitude – in great sales cultures, the leader and each member of the team maintain an excellent and positive attitude. They understand that attitude drives mindset, which drives behaviour, and therefore results. As Zig Ziglar said “Attitude determines altitude”. The glass is always half full, the team are constantly looking at the positive side of every situation, and understand that the world is filled with opportunities and possibilities. Now the key here is that these teams do not live in ‘Fairyland’ where everything is rainbows and unicorns. They still face challenges and obstacles. The difference is they are better placed to handle these challenges because they possess an excellent attitude and are crystal clear on why they are doing what they are doing. How would you describe your attitude and the attitude of your team?
- Clear Standards Of Behaviour – all great sales cultures establish and then implement outstanding standards of behaviour, which become uncompromising and non-negotiable. And these standards are founded in excellence. Some typical examples of standards include returning customer phone calls within 24 hours, being early for meetings, treating key stakeholders with high levels of respect, maintaining engaging eye contact when communicating face to face, just to name a few. All of these standards must be sustainable, replicable and non-negotiable, and executed consistently, irrespective of whether the leader is there or not. And these standards deliver consistency for clients and build trust and credibility quickly. When you look at your sales team, what clear and consistent standards do you have in place?
- Clear Daily & Weekly Activities & Metrics – many organisations and teams focus all of their attention on the end result. It is all about the numbers. Now, understand that the end result is important and successful people will always begin with the end in mind – they know what their goals and objectives are. However, great sales cultures focus their attention on the daily & weekly core activities, more than on the result. They understand that a daily focus on what needs to be done each day and each week, will lead to the end result, if done correctly. Achieving success is a process, a journey. Daily and weekly monitoring of progress enables the leader to alter direction as required, knowing that the end result will still be the same, it just may mean that there is a different path that will lead there. In great sales cultures, if the right things are done well, the end result will take care of itself. As a sales leader, are you focused on the end result or on the core daily and weekly activities? Focus more on the daily and weekly activities than the result.
- Ongoing Training, Coaching & Mentoring – within all great sales cultures exists an uncompromising focus on training, coaching and mentoring, and with that, a high level of accountability. To stay ahead of the game, it is critical that not only sales leaders but sales people constantly update their skill set and knowledge. This is a priority. When other organisations reduce spending on training and development, especially when sales and revenue are plateauing or dropping, great sales cultures ramp up their focus and investment in training and they make it a priority. This is what separates them from the competition. Sales leaders make coaching and development of their people a non-negotiable part of their daily activity, and through this, they develop an exceptionally high level of accountability. As a sales leader, where does coaching, training and mentoring sit on your level of priorities?
There is a specific difference between teams and organisations which achieve sustainable & consistent success, and those that achieve hit and miss results. And this difference is the sales culture that is developed, cultivated and maintained. Yes, sales strategy is important, however, it pales into insignificance compared to the importance of sales culture. So as a sales leader, focus on developing a strong and vibrant sales culture and brace yourself for levels of success that will blow your mind!!
To your continued sales leadership success.
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Darren specialises in working with Sales Leaders to create, implement & embed a sales leadership game plan that will deliver outstanding and sustainable sales & revenue results. He is also the founder of the Australian Sales Leadership Network, a LinkedIn Group for sales leaders to share insights, strategies, resources and best practices, in order to build high quality, engaged and successful sales teams, delivering profitable and sustainable sales results. To apply to join, please click this link.