Today's guest post is by Tris Brown, CEO of LSA Global. Take the LSA Global free and confidential 12-minute Alignment Survey at http://www.lsaglobal.com/alignment-survey. In addition to receiving key business insight, you’ll be entered for a chance to win a $100 Amazon.com gift card.
This year, I’ve published several posts about sales culture and strategy on the Selling Power blog. Now that we’re in the final stretch of 2014, here’s a quick review of some tips for sales leaders who want to set a course for success.
1) Be proactive about designing your organization’s culture.
Every organization has a culture. If you don’t proactively create a culture that makes sense for your unique strategy and market, it will be created for you. If you want high-performance results, it’s much better to take control of your destiny and design a high-performance sales culture. Remember, culture is not “soft stuff.” A recent Harvard Business School research report described how an effective culture can account for up to half of the positive differential in performance.
2) Create clear and meaningful goals for your team.
Without a crystal-clear connection to larger meaning, people tend to drift or become disinterested. It’s your job as a leader to give the people on your team a vision and inspire them to become part of something bigger than themselves. Remember, one in 10 hikers who climb Mt. Everest die, yet still they choose to try to summit. Our endeavors must be tied to something clear and profound, or we won’t be inspired to make it through the inevitable struggles that will challenge us.
3) Separate winning from success.
For many sales leaders, winning equals revenue gains, but a winning organizational culture is not necessarily one that promotes revenue over all else (though it certainly could be). Your culture reflects your true corporate values. Those values drive key business practices and behavior. Consider the example of General Motors (GM). Internally, GM employees became familiar with “the GM nod.” Safety issues might be reported and discussed during meetings, but the tacit understanding was that no one would ever act on these reports, and the reports would be quietly ignored. Thus GM created a corporate culture that prioritized pushing out faulty products over the safety of its consumers. Carefully consider what kind of behavior your culture promotes and whether it is effectively aligned with your growth strategy.
4) Hire for cultural fit, not smarts.
At most companies, sales leaders look to hire “quota crushers” and then wonder why things don’t work out six months later. That’s because hiring for skills, smarts, or past performance will not necessarily help you capture the kind of talent that will thrive in your culture. In fact, those three criteria might just sabotage your chances for success. Google learned this lesson during a period of high growth and now ensures that, in addition to desired levels of proficiency, new hires have the right “Googliness.” This includes the ability to collaborate, learn, handle ambiguity, and be agile. In general, skills can be taught, but the key behavioral competencies that make sense for your unique corporate culture often cannot be learned.
5) Model your 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.
Want to learn more about how you can take steps to create a high-performance culture at your company? I invite you to take our free and confidential 12-minute Alignment Survey at http://www.lsaglobal.com/alignment-survey. In addition to receiving key business insight, you’ll be entered for a chance to win a $100 Amazon.com gift card.