Changing Your Sales Culture, Everybody Sells the Company
What is the single most important thing a CEO can do for sales? Create a culture of sales, one that lives and breathes sales, one that supports every sales effort.
First, everyone needs to be reminded that without sales the company will go out of business and they will be out of a job. Without customers there is no company. Okay, that may be a little harsh but it is the reality. If the salespeople don’t have the support they need from marketing, accounting, customer service, manufacturing, etc. it will be difficult for them do to their jobs and unfortunately, they may speak poorly of these other departments for not giving them the support they need. That is never good. If everyone in a company is focused on sales and how what they do affects sales, the culture will begin to change and sales will increase. If sales are already great then chances are you have a “working” sales culture. Unfortunately, I usually find that is not the case and if sales are good, they could be even better.
Often I hear employees complaining about the salespeople at their company. They say things like, “All those salespeople do is play golf and take people to dinner.” I think that very few people understand what sales is and what salespeople do. Part of sales is building relationships and golf and dinner can help with that. But that is only part of it. Sales is a lot of hard work, it takes a lot of energy and planning. Salespeople have to be in a good mood, they have to be exceptional listeners and they have to be patient and persistent at the same time. They also often have to battle against negative views that customers may have from problems caused by customer service, accounting or another department in the company. That is another reason everyone has to understand how what they do is related to sales. Repeat business is critical so every customer touch has to be satisfactory if not outstanding so that not only do you retain that customer but that customer becomes a source of referrals.
I had this wild idea for hiring the right people, only it is too wild for most. I am going to put it here and you can decide if it is too wild for you or just right.
In hiring for any position some of the questions would be:
• In your past positions how have you been involved or interacted with sales?
• How would you promote this company to your friends and family?
• When networking how would you promote this company?
• Take a look at this product, what would be some of your ideas for selling it?
• How do you see your role as ------ assisting with sales and interacting with the sales team?
Let’s say you are hiring an accountant. Accountants may not think they know much about sales. But in actuality, selling is collecting and analyzing information so you can solve a problem and so is accounting. However, a bookkeeper, accountant or financial person may not be thinking that way, they may think they know nothing about sales. But what if they did know this and could relate to it? You might find some incredible and unique ideas. Not only that, but by asking those questions you are setting the expectation that they will be doing their job with a focus on sales and that you expect them to represent your company in the community.
I wonder what would happen if all 100 or 1000 of your employees loved and understood your company so much that they became walking advertisements for it. They were proud to tell people they work for your company and were well versed in what your company does so they could discuss it. They knew just what your company sold and the target audience for those products and services. What if each employee, each year just brought in one additional sale because they talked about your company with those they met?
Let’s face it everybody knows about selling because they buy. They know what “sells” them on something and they know how they choose what they buy. So in essence they are experts in sales from the buying end.
Building a sales culture takes time and focus. Here are some things to get you started:
1. Do an employee satisfaction survey and find out what your employees think about your organization, the other departments and sales.
2. Start hiring with sales in mind, use the questions above or ask your sales team to give you some questions to use.
3. Make sure that every employee (even the custodian) understands the mission, vision and goals of your company along with some general understanding of your products and services and who your target audience is. Review all of that information with them annually.
4. Have volunteers from all departments shadow your salespeople to learn more about sales.
5. Have your salespeople give your employees a presentation on what they do and how they do it.
6. Make sure Sales and Marketing are working together and that Marketing is generating leads for sales.
7. Have employees participate on support teams for sales.
8. Move towards performance based pay where employee’s pay is tied to sales success.
9. Reward employees for sales leads.
10. Send employees from all different departments to networking events with your salespeople.
If you already have a great sales culture remember to appreciate that publicly and give kudos and rewards to acknowledge it. Building a sales culture will definitely increase your company’s sales. Try one or two ideas and see what happens.
About This Contributor
Alice R. Heiman
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