How to Embrace a Sales Driven Culture

Sales Driven Culture picture of sales rep creating higher revenue growth graph

Sales Driven Culture
Should your company embrace a sales driven culture?  If you are looking to grow profitable revenue faster, then this is a fair question to ask – especially if you have historically been a technology, engineering, or product-driven culture.  One is not necessarily better than the other.  It just depends upon your business strategy.

The Definition of Sales Culture
Much has been written lately about the importance of a strong culture in driving success. Think of a sales driven culture simply as how and why sales-related things really get done – the way sales people think, behave and act. According to a recent report from the Harvard Business School, culture can account for up to half of the differential in performance between organizations in the same industry.

Sales Culture Accounts for 40% of the Difference
We agree that a sales driven culture can make the difference between thriving and just surviving. Our organizational alignment research found that culture accounts for 40% of the difference between high- and low-performing sales teams in the areas of revenue growth, margin, customer satisfaction, customer retention, sales leadership effectiveness and sales rep engagement.

New Thinking About Sales Cultures
What is new in culture-oriented thinking is the idea that basing an entire company upon a sales driven culture can give an organization a significant competitive edge. The philosophy behind this approach is that no matter how superior your products or services may be, if you can’t convince someone to buy them in a way that makes sense for them and their unique situation, your business will stumble.

Combined with speed at which technologies and products are being disrupted, the ability to sell is taking on a more meaningful role.  There are hundreds of companies with good or great products that are losing market share to competitors with superior sales and marketing capabilities.

Four Steps to Create a Sales Driven Culture
If you are ready to think of your company as first, last, and always a sales-oriented organization to help your customers to succeed, here is how you can go about embracing a sales driven culture.

1.  Revamp Your Mission to be Sales-focused
Embody your new focus in your mission statement so that there is no doubt about why you are in business and how you intend to operate. Make sure your entire work force understands you plan to grow profits by acquiring new customers, serving those customers for increased profitability, and building long-term customer loyalty by helping them to succeed.

2.  Personally Communicate and Reinforce the New Sales Mission
Do not rely on others to spread the word. It is your responsibility as a leader to reinforce the message at every turn. Too many companies publish their mission once and then assume it will become embedded in the culture.  Step up to the challenge of ensuring that each and every worker supports the external focus of your mission to help your customers to succeed in the way they think and the way they behave.

3.  Create Alignment with Sales
Sales is all about profitable and consistent growth. At times this can create problems for other departments. The sales team, eager to close a deal, can make promises of delivery that tax manufacturing or create expectations of product enhancements that put pressure on the design team.  We are not advocating a dishonest sales strategy and personally do not believe that a win-at-all-costs sales culture is healthy or sustainable.

We are advocating however that you work to resolve internal conflicts with a ruthless eye toward improving your ability to:

  • Help external customers to succeed
  • Acquire new customers
  • Retain and expand current customers

Agree upon what sales needs to get and from whom in order to help their customers to be successful. Then agree upon what the sales function needs to provide to each and every department so that everyone is set up to perform at their peak.  Then monitor progress and hold people accountable to deliver.

4.  Focus on Building a High Performance Sales Culture
Build a high performing sales environment by setting clear and achievable performance expectations, establishing fair and transparent metrics, holding team members accountable, rewarding high performers, and coaching or changing struggling performers.

The Bottom Line
If you can help current and prospective customer succeed better than the competition, your organization as a whole is more likely to flourish. If you accept this, take the leap toward externally leaning your entire organization’s culture toward sales.

To learn more about what it takes to create a sales driven culture, download Sales Leadership Lessons from the Field– How Much Growth Pressure Can Your Sales Force Handle?

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