An exceptional CEO can galvanize his organization. A good sales leader can inspire his people to do extraordinary things under extraordinarily tough circumstances. Great sales organization fosters an environment where every employee feels as if he is a full partner, a partner whose contributions make a positive difference in the growth and prosperity of the company.
Leaders can make a difference and affect organizational outcomes. They can influence the direction of the company and act as a catalyst for transformative events. However, their actions can only be manifested through the workplace culture they have created to echo their belief and vision.
Excellence is never an accident. Transforming a relatively average sales organization into a high-performing well-oiled selling machine requires designing a strategic sales culture that people want to support and work hard to achieve.
Sales culture is a powerful internal system that empowers people to stretch and act in the best interest of the customer, company, and shareholders in the absence of scrutiny, pressure, rewards, and guidance.
A good sales culture means “ do what you feel is right every time, without worrying about anything else.”
A good sales culture can inspire employees to do things beyond their commonly accepted capabilities, can elevate their intellect, enthusiasm, confidence to turn a bad situation into a win-win outcome.
A good sales culture can take an entrepreneurial startup-like Amazon ( customer obsessed) and turn it into a conglomerate in a relatively short time. Organizations that are competitors focus find it hard to create healthy sales cultures while customer focus organizations find it much easier to create happier, more empowered employees that drive results.
Sales Culture Defined
Organizational culture is the personality and the DNA of any organization; it’s the aggregate sum of the organization’s values, norms, expectations, and history. Influential sales culture promotes company growth, innovation, creativity, and employee happiness.
Sales Culture Drives Organizational Behaviors and Results.
Sales culture is the system that connects people and resources to create sustained value. People are wired differently, and they get motivated differently. Money motivates some people; others are driven by recognition, a sense of purpose, belonging, upward mobility, and available opportunities. Leaders’ understanding of what motivates their salespeople is vital to performance, as unmotivated sales reps often generate dreadful returns.
According to The Gallup organization’s research, the salesperson’s direct sales manager influences 80% of salespeople’s perception of a company. The sales VP and the CEO has little impact on the sales culture because salespeople view their impact only through the prism of their direct sales managers. When a salesperson joins a sales organization, they generally report to a single manager — the higher the hierarchical distance, the less impact.
Gallup found that 70% of the top producers who left their company did so because of a breakdown in their relationship with their direct sales manager. Conversely, behind every single sales star, you find a great sales manager in the shadows.
A Columbia University study demonstrated that organizations with healthy sales culture experienced a mere 13.9% job turnover, while job turnover in companies with poor sales culture averaged 48.4%.
Another study conducted by The Department of Economics at the University of Warwick found that happy employees were 12% more productive than average workers, and unhappy workers were 10% less productive, costing the American businesses more than $300 billion each year.
A statistic from New Century Financial Corporation reflects that non-engaged, unhappy account executives at a banking company produced 28% less than those who were engaged. Conversely, happy employees outperformed the competition by 20%, earned 2.1% above industry benchmarks, and managed to solve complex problems much faster.
Sales Culture and Organizational Strategy Disconnect
A favorable sales culture enhances the sales organization opportunity cost, improves sales reps’ effectiveness (doing the right things) and efficiency (doing things right) as clarified by Peter Drucker.
Sales efficiency initiatives, like CRM, training, and KPI dashboards, empower salespeople to do their job better. Sales effectiveness optimizes decisions, such as customer selection, high-value customer targeting, and alignment of sales tasks with organizational strategy; in short, it’s a trajectory or roadmap to progress.
Executive management can develop the foundation upon which the sales culture can flourish. According to a survey of 1,800 executives, 53% of the respondents said their employees don’t understand their company’s strategy.
The reality is that corporate strategic goals are the aggregate results of multiple individual business units’ goals. Most of these units work independently, yet they hope their findings will fit within the organization’s go-to-market strategy. It’s like you are trying to link a broken chain by tying its broken links with a rubber band.
Furthermore, corporate strategic planning is often disconnected from frontline decision-making, as well as customer buying processes, which creates constant friction and frustration at all levels. Executive management feels they are not understood, while frontline management feels alienated from the executive management decision process.
In the B2B sales space, you depend on your sales rep’s job satisfaction and ability to create revenue, promote your company mission, brand, products, and services — however, only a few companies put in sincere effort measuring employee satisfaction and happiness.
Revenue can be easily tracked and measured. Still, it’s harder to evaluate a salesperson’s belief in the company values and mission or their excitement level towards their work, and their willingness to promote the company vision and social responsibilities.
Healthy corporate culture has employees who are happy about their work because they feel they are part of an organization that supports its employees’ growth by promoting team-work, learning on the job, friendship, and fun.
Employees love to work in an environment where they consider their coworkers and management team as a second family; after all, they spend the best part of the day working with a group of people they categorize as friends and not foes.
A healthy corporate culture promotes transparency, uniformity, civility, and values that are congruent across the board. The organization should provide the same level of care to its customers, shareholders, and employees.
An excellent example of healthy workplaces is abundantly visible looking at Southwest Airlines and the Walt Disney Company employees interacting with their customers as they see fit — happiness and empowerment in the workplace is the fuel to employee retention and loyalty. Chevron promotes ‘the Chevron way,’ which consists of practicing safety first, being supportive, and always looking out for your team members.
Compensation plan buy hands to work not trust and loyalty
Japanese companies invest tremendous resources in training staff to care exceptionally well for their customers and assure quality service every time. Good corporate culture is not accidental; it requires planning, training, and constant improvement.
In the airline industry, ANA Airlines ranks consistently among the world’s top-rated airlines. Japanese and business travelers prefer to pay more and fly ANA than opt for cheaper competitors.
Japanese employees go above and beyond across industries to provide excellent service. They take enormous pride in doing their job to the best of their ability, knowing that they help their company to serve the community and grow and prosper.
Additionally, Japanese companies invest in training their employees while ensuring safety and career stability. It’s common in the Japanese corporate culture that employees consider their coworkers like a real family and share a strong sense of bonding and team spirit. Many employees see the company and their coworkers as a central force and balance in their life.
Fanatic Brand Ambassadors
Employees who believe in their company’s mission create more loyal customers than what the marketing department could ever achieve. A believer is a passionate, tenacious person who radiates confidence and comes off as credible and trustworthy.
Your employees have a considerable influence over the businesses they interact with. A salesperson who profoundly believes in the company’s mission is a powerful promotional tool that is more potent than any billboard you can afford. Healthy workplace cultures can turn every employee into a walking, talking marketing billboard that promotes the company to the community and society it serves.
Employees Creativity is Free
Happy, empowered employees who work for a company that fosters a healthy sales cultures take it on them to find solutions to challenges.
In a survey released in July 2010, IBM asked more than 1,500 global CEOs the following question: What are the essential skills for success in today’s world? 60% stated that creativity was a necessary quality over the next five years.
Creativity is the power source behind new ideas and innovation. Creative minds improve existing products, services, and ideas. Creativity is a valuable and desired characteristic of employees.
Yet, in B2B space, creativity is often suppressed by executive leaders who spend years working within a structured traditional system that focuses on rewarding salespeople for reaching specific objectives. But, rewards zero for creativity, intellectual initiatives, and mental prowess. A job description should be borderless and hierarchy-less. Hire smart people, but don’t limit yourself to their hands and a limited part of their expertise, when you can have their minds, hearts, and creative spirits for the same price.
Creativity is often left to the R&D or marketing folks. Marketing is the art and science of creating a need. Reaching to people is less effective than attracting them to you. When people reach out to you, you usually have better conversations, and you can command higher prices of admission.
Salespeople are not perceived as creative people in general, and this belief is a fallacy. Salespeople are incredibly creative, smart, and curious. They find gaps where there are none, and they influence hardened, shrewd decision-makers that have been tested by time and experience.
I witnessed salespeople taking advantage of holes in the company compensation plan, pricing structures, business solution bundles, and competitors’ errors.
Salespeople can be brilliant and creative to overcome obstacles by creating a gravitational pull that compels their ideal clients to seek them out. But most companies pay them for their performance and not so much for their creativity, which can be had for free.
Encouraging open creativity while providing some incentive to the sales force can promote new ideas, initiatives, and innovations that will yield creative efforts and better results.
Healthy Corporate Cultures Benefits
Positive workplace culture is like an invisible magnetic field that attracts everyone towards it. It’s almost like a hidden glue that bonds people marching in the same direction.
At its core, it’s the DNA of the organization where people are engaged in fulfilling the company vision, mission, and core values through a system that encourages performance, transparency, and accountability. And where upward mobility is based on character, capabilities, and merit.
Healthy Sales Culture Promotes Learning
In a healthy sales culture, mistakes are accepted as part of the learning process. The first-rate company culture encourages creativity and innovations by supporting employees’ ideas and concepts, even when they seem far-fetched. When employees feel valued and respected, their productivity and imagination skyrocket and the company benefits from having a healthy, vibrant environment that promotes growth.
According to a Harvard Business Review study, happy employees outperform their competitors by more than 20%. Additionally, their job performance exceeded industry standards by 2.1%. Happy employees increase company value and profit by retaining existing clients and acquiring new ones at a much faster rate than the employees who are just doing it for the money.
Happy Employees Are More:
1. Productive, accountable, responsible and caring
2. Healthy, active and engaged fully
3. Profitable and work more extended hours with no absenteeism
4. Creative, innovative and act as a catalyst for growth
5. Loyal, devoted, compliant and trustworthy
How to Increase Your Employee’s Happiness Factor?
- Celebrate individuals and team wins often
- Establish activities that increase team cohesiveness
- Promote people based on merit and do it often
- Celebrate the value and impact of their work publicly.
- Promote work-life balance
- Listen carefully to your people and take an interest in their ideas
- Show appreciation and demonstrate respect for everyone.
- Invest in your people development
- Help your employees to shape their career paths
- Unite people and cross-functional divisions
Happiness takes a collective effort to improve job satisfaction and mental satisfaction. Positive corporate or organizational culture has a direct impact on revenue, employee satisfaction, and retention.
Sales culture is the DNA of your organization. It reflects who you are, what you believe in, and what you stand for to accomplish your purpose.
Good corporate culture is not accidental; it requires planning, training, and constant improvement.
Companies with healthy sales cultures experience higher employee satisfaction rates and higher retention rates than their peers in the industry. Sales organizations with a robust sales culture enjoy better employee engagement, higher loyalty, attract better talent, retain customers longer, and are more profitable.
Happy employees outperform their competitors, increase company value and profit, and generate loyal repeat buying customers.
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