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Developing a Sales Culture

“Culture is a little like dropping an Alka- Seltzer into a glass- you don’t see it, but somehow it does something” – Hans Magnus Enzensberger

It’s widely accepted that everyone within a company has an impact in some way or another on the customer experience. It therefore follows that all members of any organisation should be encouraged to understand and appreciate the impact their role can have on the customer, on sales, and thus the company’s financial performance.

Surprisingly, few companies truly live in what one would call a ‘sales culture’. Often, ‘Sales’ is seen as the job done by the sales team. In fact, ‘Sales’ is the job done by the company – and the company includes everyone.

We’re all selling something

Every business sells products or services, and it’s the level and profitability of these sales that will ultimately dictate how successful the business will be. In order to maximise the success of any business it’s therefore worth investing time and effort into nurturing a company-wide sales culture. Doing so can also give your company a competitive edge, and that much talked about point of difference – Wikipedia defines ‘Culture’ as “that which distinguishes life in one group from life in another group…..” Point made!

Let’s face it, if you are the credit controller, you know that how you deal with the collection of monies can have a profound effect on customer relationships. By the same token both the effectiveness and the motivation of the front line sales team can be radically affected by the level of support and encouragement given by the administrators back at the office. Decisions made by the finance department can certainly impact on sales, and there are many more examples.

Let them know what’s going on and why – communicate….

So – how do we go about developing a sales culture? Well, firstly the process is made much easier if you are willing to be as open as possible with everyone in the business. Letting people understand the company’s specific goals can give a real sense of purpose. Simplistically – everyone in the company should understand where the company is going, how it’s going to get there, what their role is in achieving this, and what’s in it for them if you succeed.

Short-term quick fixes can also be motivating. For example, assuming you have monthly financial budgets which are reported against regularly, why not share these and the reports with everyone? A simple chart in the office showing the budget by month with actual results updated as frequently as possible can be very effective.

An important element, assuming each person in the organisation understands what part he or she plays in the overall game, is for them to understand how they can impact positively on the whole customer experience. This may well involve some training or at least some brainstorming sessions, in which individuals are encouraged to volunteer their own thoughts as to how they can grow their contribution.

Think about it

It’s also a good idea to encourage individuals to think a little outside the box – we’re all ‘boxed in’ with our day to day workload and often this makes it hard for us to take a holistic look at the overall business and how we may influence things. Many people will see their role in isolation – for example “I chase debtors and collect outstanding monies”, rather than “I help maintain the company’s cash-flow and nurture strong relationships with our customers”.

As a business owner or manager you are highly committed, and as a result you become passionate about making the business successful. Unless your team are equally committed there’s a danger they will focus their passion on receiving their wage packet, and leaving the office at 5pm! You want your team committed, not just involved –

“The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed.”

Get them excited!

People who are excited about the company, its goals and progress, are far more effective – fact. How do we get them excited? Well, first, as explained above, they can’t get excited about your goals if they don’t know what they are – so tell them. Second, let them know what’s in it for them. This could be a bonus, possible promotion, a pay rise, sales commission, profit share, share options or any of a host of possible incentives. Don’t forget that a pat on the back and a big thank you can go a long way too. Monthly updates with a small prize for the individual who has contributed most to the sales effort in that month, can be a great morale booster and also introduce a little harmless competition.

Keep it going

It’s all very well developing a sales culture but it’s very important to build some momentum and to keep it alive. This is made easier if you can get as many people engaged in the process as you can, and build an environment where people want to keep it going because they enjoy it, because they benefit from it and because they can see the results of their efforts. Encourage debate and reward constructive suggestions, create a real team atmosphere and make certain that everyone is pulling in the same direction with a real sense of purpose.

This article merely scratches the surface. Creating a true sales culture requires time, effort and commitment, but the rewards can be astonishing if you get it right. If you would like some help in developing a true sales culture in your business, give us a call or contact us.

Nick Richards

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