At Sidehill Consulting, we spend a lot of time working with and listening to business owners, presidents and CEOs. The consensus is clear – everyone wants to improve sales and profitability. And most everyone agrees that in order to do this, an organization needs to change its sales culture.
Commit to Making a Change
Changing sales culture may be a simple idea, but execution is not easy. Several components are involved, but the most important is the commitment from business leaders. Leaders must be serious about affecting lasting, consistent, sustainable change. The leaders are also responsible for setting the example for the rest of the organization. The commitment starts at the top and trickles throughout the ranks to the entire organization, especially to the management team.
By committing to change the sales culture, you are announcing your intent to:
- Change the results.
- Change the beliefs and paradigms of the organization.
- Change the attitudes of the organization.
- Change the behaviors of sales managers and salespeople.
- Change techniques, beginning with the Sales Management Process.
- Install a congruent, effective Sales Process.
- Install an effective Sales Recruiting Process.
The Sales Culture Transformation
Whether you have a nonexistent sales culture or one that has been broken for some time, these seven steps will kickstart a sales culture that can support and drive profitability.
- First, realize that the very people you would like to change have chosen to do what they are currently doing, therefore they probably won’t choose to do what you would like them to do – sell. Know that this process will take more than a few months and will hit a few obstacles.
- Then realize that only a small percentage of those people are suitable for taking on any part of a sales or business development role. Evaluate your sales force and identify that small percentage of people. This is easy to do if you use the right types of assessment tools.
- Clearly communicate your desire to create more of a sales culture to the people that you’d like to be more sales aware.
For example, perhaps you want branch managers at a bank to go out and find local business customers, or you want order takers to become proactive by making outgoing calls, or professionals to bring new clients into your firm. In any of these cases, the biggest common mistake is that management usually fails to communicate this expectation to the very people they would like to change.
Clearly define what it is your team should do and how often they should do it. Setting and managing expectations is key.
- Choose a Culture Transformation Director. This should be someone who understands what needs to be accomplished, as well as how to accomplish it.
- Provide the chosen team with the training they’ll need to succeed in this strange new world of selling and new business development. Use the data from the tool described in number two as a guide.
- Get buy-in from the people who will participate. Their commitment to the personal and professional growth about to take place will be critical for the implementation and ongoing development of your new sales culture. Each member of the team has to want it, or they need to be on a different team.
- Be clear as to how your sales team’s success will be measured. The Culture Transformation Director must hold the team accountable to doing what they agreed to do in number three.
Change is always hard. Most employees and managers will not embrace changing the sales culture, at least not at first. There will be resistance. There will be turnover. There may even be sabotage. As a business leader, it’s your job to show them the way. Your commitment to change will build predictability and sustainability into the fabric of your organization. The results will speak for themselves when you emerge with a stronger sales team; one that welcomes accountability, behaves consistently and performs entirely differently than before.
Sidehill Consulting is in the business of creating change, including within your sales culture. If your organization’s sales culture is stagnant, take our free Sales Agility Assessment to see right away what your sales operation might be missing. Then contact us to take the first step in committing to change.
Jon Anderson is President of Sidehill Consulting and provides hands-on service as an Outsourced VP of Sales. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.