Today's guest post is by Tris Brown, CEO of LSA Global. Download his white paper, "Do You Have the High Performance Culture to Drive Your Strategy?"
We come across many sales organizations that are not performing at their peak – even businesses with a clear and well-defined strategy. In fact, according to our research, less than 10 percent of strategic initiatives are effectively executed. So what are they missing? They are missing the other two-thirds of the equation for success: the right culture and talent for their specific strategy.
Sales culture is not just another management buzzword, and building a successful sales culture is not a “soft” leadership skill. In fact, in his book The Culture Cycle: How to Shape the Unseen Force that Transforms Performance, Harvard Business School Professor Emeritus James L. Heskett says that culture’s impact on profit (the result of a successfully executed strategy) can actually be measured and quantified:
"We know, for example, that engaged managers and employees are much more likely to remain in an organization, leading directly to fewer hires from outside the organization. This, in turn, results in lower wage costs for talent; lower recruiting, hiring, and training costs; and higher productivity. Higher employee continuity leads to better customer relationships that contribute to greater customer loyalty, lower marketing costs, and enhanced sales."
Heskett’s thinking is just what we, too, have found: if your organization doesn’t align culture and talent with overall strategy, you’re not likely to get the results you want.
Are you having problems hitting your sales targets, retaining top sales talent, or growing target accounts? Those are leading indicators. If you’re having those issues, pay attention to your organizational culture now and not later when effects on revenue begin.
Here are three key things to keep in mind as you think about how to craft and sustain a winning sales culture.
1) Be clear about what your sales culture is. If you can’t clearly articulate your culture to your employees, you’ll never be able to help them live and breathe it every day. Remember, culture is created either by default or by design. If you don’t step in to fill the void, your company culture will evolve with no vision or plan. That is a recipe for disaster.
2) Model your sales culture. What’s good for those in the mailroom is also good for those in the boardroom. A company culture has to present a unified front. Model your company culture in every action you take, and reward those employees who successfully embody the culture you have defined. Any sense of misalignment among your employees can throw the entire framework out of whack.
3) Make sure your sales culture ties your overall strategy to individual success. Employees must believe that the overall company strategy is also in their best interest as individuals. Highlight the successes of your high achievers, and take those moments as opportunities to underscore the value of being in accord with your company culture.
What steps have you taken lately to create a great sales culture? Share your thoughts in the comments section. You can also join Tris at the upcoming Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco on May 5 - 6, where he will present Stop Doing Stupid Stuff: The Critical Moves Required to Create Real-Time Sales Results.