How to create a successful sales culture
Your sales managers can drive sales - or drive away your best salespeople
A sales department is primarily built on the capabilities and vision of its managers. Sales managers play a key role in influencing the performance of the salespeople they manage and motivate. In fact, these managers are more important in driving sales results than anyone else in the company.
A culture is the values and practices shared by the members of the group. Sales culture, therefore, is the shared values and practices of the company's employees.
A sales department culture is extremely important because it can make or break your company. Companies with an adaptive culture that is aligned to their business & sales goals routinely outperform their competitors. Some studies report the difference at 250% or more. To achieve results like this for your sales department, you have to figure out what your culture is, decide what it should be, and move everyone toward the desired culture.
Cultures evolve and they change over time. As sales people leave the company and replacements are hired the department culture will change. If it is a strong culture, it may not change much. However, since each new employee brings their own values and practices to the department the culture will change, at least a little. Equally as the environment or business climate in which the company operates changes, the company culture will also change.
These changes may be positive, or they may not. The changes in company culture may be intended, but often they are unintended.
Good intentions, poor results
As far as I am aware no sales manager gets out of bed every day and goes to work with the intention of creating the worst possible culture for his or her team. However some sales managers unconsciously achieve this result. This is usually down to two main factors. First reason is companies putting the wrong people into sales management roles. This typically is the star sales person or top performer who they feel will leave there organisation without some further career recognition.
Second reason is usually due to once promoting an individual, organisations failing to offer the support and training required to move into a man management position. Since launching Love Media Sales we have talked to many of our members who hold management positions, most recently we surveyed them regarding the training received after being promoted.
It was somewhat surprising to hear that typically there answer when asked how much training had they received when they move into their first management position was "none"
As a result, many sales managers have little understanding of what they must do to ensure a positive environment for their sales teams.
Getting it right
In order to build and maintain a strong sales culture it is crucial company objectives and staff needs & development are equally matched. Companies need to ensure that any promotion into a sales management position is carefully thought through about the skill set the individual posses. Far too many companies are moving the wrong people into management roles.
The solution is to build an internal sales management training scheme which starts when a sales professional is hired. By clearly mapping their route to management whether it be product or people management this will allow you as an employer to highlight early in their career the potential sales ‘man' managers of the future. These managers hold the success to creating a strong company culture.
By carefully thinking through remuneration and rewards for your top sales performers other than promotion to sales management roles, this will allow you to retain top performers whilst selecting and promoting those best suited for management.
To summarise, your sales managers are key in creating and maintaining a productive sales culture. By building a carefully thought through management promotion process you will ensure that the quality of your sales department is improved. It is also crucial that once you have moved a sales professional into a management role that your organisation continues to develop their key competencies, ensuring they are equipped to succeed in a management position.