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Does Your Company have a Sales Culture?

Posted on June 18, 2013

(Jack Derby is a venture capitalist and  leader of the annual AIM/Derby Sales Management Boot Camp.)

I was sitting with the senior team at a company recently prepping for a sales and marketing planning meeting.

As we were going through topics, the newly promoted president commented that this business really wasn’t that complicated, and that we just needed to do two things:

  1. Sales ManagementSell more new accounts
  2. Retain and expand existing customers

I realized that he’s unnervingly correct. 

The work of sales really isn’t that complicated, since it comes down to the basic meat and potatoes of hunting for new territory; farming the land that we already own; plus defining a dynamic sales culture of winning.

These tenets of sales success are basics, of course, as seen from the seller’s side of the table.  The opportunity for us as salespeople is to turn these basic practices of hunting and farming into buying decisions. How? By focusing on selling the financial value that we create through our products and services. 

What makes the highly intertwined worlds of sales and marketing more exciting and more of an opportunity today than ever before is the fact that we can get to the value proposition discussion efficiently by adding formalized sales processes and technology tools that employ social media and highly targeted marketing.  As a result, we can create environments that optimize the selling process and enable our salespeople to become much more effective.  

But what about your company’s sales culture?

The CFO of the company I was meeting with offered several observations on culture:

  • We can do a lot better;
  • Let’s make sure that everyone is totally engaged;
  • Ensure a culture of urgency and speed everywhere;
  • Create an increased commitment to support the entire team;
  • Give the sales team confidence in their skills, an objective that may require more training; and
  • No one in sales should be just parsley for the meal – sitting pretty on the sidelines.

Your culture question for the day…

If you had to list the top two – and just two – culture improvements that you would like to make in your sales organization for the second half of the year, what would they be?  
What would it take to make sure that everyone in the organization was focused on the company’s objectives and that no one was just parsley and not an active part of the team’s engagement for sales optimization?  A few ideas:

  • Bring the sales culture question up at your sales meeting next week;
  • Come to agreement on the need for taking your culture to the next level;
  • Take a half day in July, once the quarter has ended;
  • Agree on the specific tactics and tools that you’re going to employ; 
  • Agree on the specific tools with which you plan to enable your salespeople;
  • Execute.  

It’s no more difficult than that to get everyone totally engaged and living the culture that you want.  Do that for six months, and then do a culture check at your 2014 kickoff sales meeting.

Remember, it’s your personal leadership that will define what you want your sales culture to be.