By Mattson Newell (@MattsonNewell), a Director for Partners In Leadership who works with leaders to create greater workplace accountability and facilitates enterprise-wide culture change.
In our day and age everyone is looking to drive bigger sales, faster. To accomplish this, leaders of sales organizations are constantly looking for that next tool, that next motivational clip or that next incentive that will help drive their team’s performance and deliver their numbers. In the last year alone Harvard Business Review Reported that organizations spent $15 billion USD on Sales Training. The inherent challenge with any new tool, any new clip or any new incentive is that its impact lessens and a few months or weeks down the road, the leader is looking for something new. Driving sales by driving new activity, new tools or incentives can work temporarily, but to reach a sustainable sales solution, leaders should be driving culture.
Impact of Employee & Customer Beliefs
In a recent study by Korn Ferry, the right culture in an organization can increase bottom-line sales by up to 30%! In short, culture impacts results. Defining culture simply, as the way people think and act in your organization, you must step back and ask the question what do my employees think? What are their beliefs of how things work in our organization? Taking this externally, you could ask what are the beliefs your customers hold about you and your product? The next question would then be, what are the beliefs I want my team holding and what are the beliefs I want my customers holding?
With this in mind, what are 3 ways you can drive sales by driving culture?
1. Drive a Culture Focused on Results, Not Activity
In your career, have you ever come across someone who worked really hard, 50-60-70 hours a week, but failed to achieve results? Sales organizations have a propensity to fall into the activity trap. If we have a culture of activity we are focused on dialing for dollars, putting more pressure on, selling customers harder, coming up with margin-crushing discounts, all in the name of activity. If we have a culture focused on results we are working smarter, focused on creating the right experiences for each customer, mutually exploring their needs and presenting them with the value our products or services can bring to the table to help them. As the great Zig Ziglar once said, “Stop Selling. Start Helping.”
2. Drive a Culture of Curiosity
Curiosity might have killed the cat, but it is invaluable to a sales team! Steve W. Martin, a professor at the USC Marshall School of Business and author of Heavy Hitter Sales Psychology conducted a study of 1,000 B2B salespeople where he wanted to find out what set top sellers apart from average or struggling salespeople. His research concluded, among other things, that 82% of top sellers scored extremely high on curiosity levels. Top sellers want to know about their customers, market, products, value propositions, the buying process and the individuals they deal with. They don’t just want to know budget and when the contract will be signed. They want to know the why behind the sale and because of this, they ask better questions, questions that give them understanding and questions that build a relationship.
3. Drive a Culture of Collaboration
Two sales reps were working with the same Fortune 500 Client, but different divisions, and had never talked about their work with the Client. They went through a workshop together and in the course of the workshop discussed the needs of the Client, the beliefs that were held and how they could strategically bring more value to the Client. Long story short, it went from an account bringing $500K a year to $1.5M a year based on the collaboration of two reps.
It’s very easy, especially with telecommuting, for sales teams to feel like they are on an island, but collaboration is essential. Collaboration impacts results, but it also impacts engagement and satisfaction with work as reported by Gallup.
Driving sales by driving more activity, new tools or incentives can work temporarily, but to reach a sustainable sales solution, leaders should be focused on driving culture that drives sales.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.