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A Sales Culture

A Sales Culture
Copyright © Craig Warren

Hopefully you’ve taken the time to clarify the roles of
your sales team and sales management. It’s a valuable
exercise. Now you get to assess sales team strategy and
culture. Regardless of your methodology half of your sales
representatives currently perform below average. Fifty
percent are performing below average! Think about that.
This is an indisputable fact. So why even assess the team?
Simply put, to sell more.

Successful selling organizations consist of three components;
investment, activity and results. The first component is the
investment in the sales team. The investment is measured in
compensation, benefits, computers, software, training, hiring,
meetings, sales material, phones and other related expenses.

The second element is the activity of the investment. Face-to-face
meetings, travel, preparation, telephone calls and administration
comprise the second element. The third, and vital, component stands
alone; results. How many sales were generated? Profits? Current
market share?

The glue that binds the three distinct parts includes your people,
culture and customers. Is there a career path for salespeople? What
is your turnover rate? Who are the sales heroes? What is driving the
team to achieve?

The best sales managers and sales teams recognize four productivity

1. Sales research-information related to market trends, target markets,
customers, trends, etc.

2. Investment and organization-size, structure and deployment of sales
team allows you to get the right people at the right place at the right

3. People-selection, training, managing, motivating, evaluation and

4. Sales systems and processes-compensation, incentives, benefits,
internal support, etc.

Tests and surveys remain the most effective way to assess salespeople.
Companies rarely assess sales management instead relying on results to
determine effectiveness.

A successful selling organization operates in a progressive culture.
What’s a culture? That’s best answered by the following story.

Six apes were placed in a room with a ladder. A bunch of bananas hung from
the center of the room. One ape started to climb the ladder for the fruit
and the entire room was showered with cold water. This happened a few times
until any ape that wandered near the ladder was beat up by other apes. A new
guy replaced one of the original apes. The new guy, wanting to be a hero,
headed for the ladder and received a thorough beating. He learned not to go
near the ladder. Eventually every one of the original apes was replaced. The
beatings continued. The replacement apes were unaware why they were
prohibiting others from going near the ladder. They just knew the ladder was

That’s a culture. Are there any new apes on your team following old practices
without knowing why? Cultures evolve over time and their origins are rarely
known. Does your sales team have a culture? I bet it does. Is it a good one?
Sales cultures consist of three elements:

Norms-how individuals actually behave.

Values-how individuals should behave.

Work styles-diligent, tardy, professional, thorough, detailed, casual?

Changing negative cultures represents a significant challenge but is
mandatory if you want to stay in business. People are the agents of change
and must be supported by management. Who are the heroes of your sales team?
How long have they been the department hero and for what reason? Knowing these
answers will help you assess your culture.

You must first formulate your vision of the sales team and evaluate all key
contributing factors. Great companies communicate their vision clearly and
frequently with all sales related personnel. Don’t leave anyone out that comes
in contact with your sales team.

Next, you must put your vision in action by rewarding individuals for acting
in concordance with your vision. This is a process not a destination but as
it evolves your sales will increase and profits will soar.

This takes courage. You need to ask and answer tough questions. Dedication to
a better selling team is required. Don’t give up until your vision is clarified,
communicated and leads to rewarding the winners.

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