Without a sales culture, you will experience results that are less than they should be, including the net new revenue that leads to growth.
Evidence of a Sales Culture
- It's easy to recognize a sales culture because the conversations are about selling, deals, prospecting, and meetings with prospective clients.
- The sales leaders spend a lot of time talking about these same topics, and the subject of all their meetings with their team revolves around sales.
- Sales leaders have a cadence they maintain and are engaged with their teams and provide coaching.
- You can also identify a sales culture by the number of people on the telephone. The people doing the work of prospecting and following up.
- You might also notice that salespeople don't run into a conference to take a call with a prospective client, and care nothing about someone listening to their call or their meeting. You will also see that the sales force has zero reluctance to role play the conversations they have with their prospective and existing clients.
- Each person's results are publicly displayed on their CRM's dashboard, including their activity, their meetings, their opportunities, and their results.
- Each person is accountable for their results, has a target, and is pursuing the opportunities they need.
- The sales organization spends time every week improving their approach, sharing and learning from and with each other. This focus on development is a key to increasing the sales force's effectiveness, with some part of the tribal knowledge being transferred from one salesperson to another.
Evidence of the Lack of a Sales Culture
- There is little conversation about sales, selling, or deal pursuits. The reason there is little to talk about is because these topics aren't what they spend time talking about with their teams.
- Sales managers spend more time taking care of the administrative tasks their company requires of them and less time with their teams. There is little time spent on helping their team.
- The sales force is allowed to pretend that emailing a prospective client is prospecting. In a non-sales culture, instead of hearing people on the telephone, you hear the clicking of keyboards and the silent frustration of salespeople never receiving a return email from a prospect who deletes hundreds of similar emails each week.
- When a salesperson is afraid of taking or making a call in front of their peers, it is all but certain the sales force lacks the talk tracks and strategies they need to succeed. The lack of sales culture is one where there are no role plays and every salesperson is allowed to practice selling on prospective clients.
- There is a lack of targets, goals, or plans that would ensure each member of the sales team reaches their goals.
- Senior salespeople are allowed to avoid prospecting and are allowed to live on the few major accounts they maintain.
- People with sales titles and responsibilities are permitted to do work that belongs to other functions of the organization.
- Non-Salespeople are permitted to continue to work in a sales role, even though they would prefer to work in a different, non-sales role, as the culture accepts their continued failure.
- Most of all, you see a lack of activity in a sales organization that doesn't have a sales culture.
The Impact on Net New Revenue
When you look at what is published about sales and selling, you notice there is little to no conversation about the impact of a sales culture or the poor results that stem from not having a sales culture. The lack of a sales culture is responsible, in part or in whole, for poor results. Without an emphasis on sales and all things related to sales, it doesn't command the attention necessary to produce greater results.
Without a strong sales culture, you guarantee you have too few opportunities to be able to reach your goals. The reason you will have too few opportunities is because the sales force will not generate enough of the right activities to create those opportunities. You'll also fail to win new opportunities because the culture doesn't support the effectiveness needed to pursue and win new deals.
A sales organization is responsible for creating net new revenue. Net new revenue comes from creating new opportunities within your existing clients and winning new clients (new logos). Outside of creating and winning new opportunities, there isn't anything else for a sales force to do.
The Leader's Responsibility to Build a Sales Culture
Many people use this blog and the Sunday newsletter as the content for their Monday meeting, setting up their team's week with a conversation about sales. The more a leader engages with their team about sales and selling, the more the culture becomes a sales culture, the kind that results in greater effectiveness, activity, and results.
Great leaders say the same things over and over until their team believes they are true. Because nature abhors a vacuum, the lack of a sales culture creates an opening for all kinds of distractions and non-sales ideas to infect the sales force with poor beliefs and the bad practices that prevent sales.
The list of things that make up a sales culture is not an exhaustive list, but it is a good start to building the kind of sales culture that produces results. If you want a high-performing sales force, you have to start by building a sales culture. The more conversations and meetings about sales, selling, deal pursuit, or any of the dozens of sub-topics, like prospecting, deal control, displacing your competitors, negotiating, business acumen, and creating value for your prospective clients, the more you move towards a sales culture.
If you worry about the time it will take you to reverse your non-sales culture, recognize that every conversation with your team is an opportunity to build a sales culture.