How To Build A High Performing Sales Culture Part 1: The Foundation

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Behind simply increasing revenue, the desire to create a high-performing sales culture is the number one goal that I have consistently heard when working with Sales VP’s and leaders over the last 10 years.

But what does that mean? The idea of culture has always been “fuzzy” what does culture mean and what does a high-performing sales culture look like?

Is it meeting and exceeding all sales goals with efficiency and effectiveness? Is it maximizing the potential that exists within your sales teams? Is it being metrics based or agile? Maybe its increasing the focus on coaching?

Even if you can get your arms around what a sales oriented culture looks feels and acts like, how to you actually change culture?

In my experience, its this inherent lack of clarity that keeps so many organizations from reaching their goal of transforming into a high-performing sales oriented culture. Without some basic guidelines, many companies blindly launch into a set of tactics that typically result in only short-term improvements or worse, create tension and issues within their sales organizations.

In working with hundreds of small businesses and studying many more, I’ve noticed that the most successful, highest-performing sales cultures have completed two critical steps that lay a solid foundation for success. I believe that if you are able to create the critical shifts in approach and attitude described below your organization will be well positioned to implement strategies, tactics and systems that will create a long-term, high-performing sales culture.

The shifts below are straightforward, simple in nature and powerful. But they are not easy, creating this type of change can be hard - but it’ll pay off in increased revenue and efficiencies. Here’s the foundation on which to build your sales culture.

Step 1: Become Completely Client-Centric

Being truly client-centric means you have a deep understanding for and appreciation of your best clients, the ones that you want more of. It means wrapping your entire organization around their wants, needs, and expectations.

In todays world, the company that figures out how to deliver what clients want, how they want it, when they want it, while providing an exceptional experience win.

While most organizations think that they are truly client focused - the overwhelming majority of them are not. Many assume they know their market yet struggle to consistently generate the results they are looking for. You must have a structured and consistent process for soliciting feedback from your customers and Im talking more than a passive survey or a Net Promoter score.

You must ask the right questions, at the right times and of the right customers.

When you accomplish this, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of truly understanding your target market. Sales will increase, moral will rise and clients will line-up to work with you. You’ll uncover the exact path to selling what your clients want, the way that they prefer to buy, precisely how to interact to build relationship and share of wallet and how to generate referrals.

Through an intimate understanding of your clients you’ll:

  • Have the insight to develop the right offerings, products and services that capitalize on holes in the market and set you apart from your competition

  • Know for certain exactly how your most desired clients want to be sold to and make it easy for them to buy

  • Understand how to strategically position those offerings to attract more clients and sell more easily

  • Be able to align your systems, process and people around how your clients want to buy, their desired customer experience, and how you expand your relationship them in the future

  • Clients will better understand what you sell, buy more and refer others

The more that you understand your target clients and focus on their unique needs, the easier it will be to design a high-performing sales culture.

Every strategy and tactic will be driven by your clients feedback. Your clients will act as your Northstar and guide your way.

Your entire organization, all of its teams and departments will be working towards the same strategic goals. Departments will speak the same language and everyone will rally around delivering the client exactly what they want, how they want it. There will be few debates on how to move forward or what to focus on.

The result will be increased sales, increased efficiencies and the foundation on which to build a high-performing sales culture.

Step 2: Understand that Everyone Is In Sales

High-performing sales cultures embrace the concept that every person, regardless of department or role is responsible for generating revenue. Everyone has a part to play in developing and delivering the best products and client experiences.

And each individual member of the team understands her value and role in the revenue roadmap and how she contributes to the success of the organization.

In my experience, this mentality starts with the management team. Their leaders are willing make the investment in resources, to roll up their sleeves and keep the entire organization focused on providing value and increasing revenue.

They “walk the walk” but more importantly they help everyone stay focused on revenue generation and provide employees with a strong “why” that motivates them to do their best work.

The organizations that are truly operating at their highest-potential have realized that sales is a team sport and have created opportunities for all departments and individuals to play a role in contributing to and supporting the entire sales cycle.

To further emphasize each persons role in revenue generation, many of these leading organizations have also created appropriate reward systems based on key metrics related to sales for each department.

A traditional example is annual bonuses based on company results. But today’s most forward thinking, high-performing sales cultures take the concept much further. They creatively draft rewards and recognition based on the activities each individual performs to influence results depending on roles. They’re clear on individual metrics and they have strong management structures in place to keep everyone focused motivated.

They reward quality over quantity and celebrate wins big and small.

Its Not Easy …

Changing culture of any kind is hard work. There is a natural human tendency to fight change, anxiety around the unknown and new environments. There will be false starts, some fails and some redirections.

It will take time and consistent, focused effort.

It will require you to lead your teams through the transition by working side by side with them to understand and respond to client needs, embrace their roles as revenue generating employees and providing them with the tools that they need for success in their new environment.

Consider investing in a coach to work with you and your team through this transition so that you can stay focused while still running your business.

Your efforts will be rewarded in increase sales, higher-performing teams with a mission and an better company culture that attracts top talent.

Interested In Learning More About Building A High-Performing Sales Culture?

Watch this free webinar, “Creating A Culture For Sales Success: 3 Simple But Powerful Strategies For Sales Leaders”.

Successful modern selling requires fundamental changes in how we organize, measure and manage our sales teams. This requires leaders to rethink seller-focused, traditional and sometimes outdated structures and tactics in order to align how their organization sells with how their clients actually want to buy. 

In this jam-packed session you’ll learn:

  • Strategic changes to your organization and structure that can foster a high-performing sales culture

  • How focusing on scientific metrics, based on outcomes can fuel your growth

  • Key changes to your compensation plans that can drive culture improvements and revenue 

  • How to empower sales managers to build your culture, talent pool and revenue