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Sales culture has a large impact on any organization. A quality sales culture that is adopted by every individual within an organization creates efficient practices and consistent results. Sales leaders and upper management must understand that people are inherently resistant to change. New practices must be introduced over time to ease transition and ensure their new envisioned culture is accepted within the organization.
SLiA Group Sales Leadership in Action Group Creating a Quality Sales Culture Executive Summary: Sales culture has a large impact on any organization. A quality sales culture that is adopted by every individual within an organization creates efficient practices and consistent results. Sales leaders and upper management must understand that people are inherently resistant to change. New practices must be introduced over time to ease transition and ensure their new envisioned culture is accepted within the organization. Bottom Line & Business Impact: Change is a process, not a destination. Everyone desires the best, but it is the way you get there that is important. A quality sales culture is no accident. Everybody wants a better sales culture, but simply envisioning what a quality sales culture could be does not guarantee that everyone will buy in at the same rate. Sales leaders must recognize that the path to creating a culture is even more important than the end result. © 2010 SLiA Group Inc., sliagroup.com Page 1 Culture Inﬂuences the Organization Sales culture encompasses the thoughts, feelings, and attitudes that employees have about the environment they work in. A positive, nurturing sales culture makes a world of difference within sales organizations. Sales leaders who have the ability to create desirable atmospheres for their sales teams have one commonality: passion. Lay of the Land New hires tend to perceive companies based on their relationship with the sales leader as they join a company. Research shows that approximately two-thirds of the time a strong rep leaves an organization, it is due to a breakdown in the relationship they have with their sales leader. This is a result of sales leaders failing to see the value in putting an effort towards developing a sales culture. Sales leaders need to understand they are responsible for creating culture, and culture is a key driver of performance. Culture is created, developed, and shaped from the top down. However, sales cultures are executed from the bottom up when sales reps participate and buy into the environment. Sales leaders who choose to develop a sales culture that is conducive to successful sales will see the beneﬁts of their actions. When creating a positive sales culture, sales leaders must understand: • The Existing Sales Culture • Sales Culture Change Will Create Resistance • How to Build Support and Maintain a Sales Culture The Existing Sales Culture Every sales department has a sales culture. It has been present from inception and exists presently. It is embedded in the company’s business practices and is based on the decisions made by sales leaders, upper management, and reps. In many cases it may not be what was envisioned or ideal, however it still exists. Sales leaders often assume erroneously that a sales culture does not already exist or they might have a different “take” on it than the one intended by the company. Indeed, one sales leader’s interpretation of sales culture can be exceedingly different from that of another leader within the same company. A company’s sales culture is not outlined in a document. This is a common misconception made by many sales leaders and organizations. Culture is not a listing of rules, standards, objectives, or goals. Sales culture “is what it is”. While documents do contribute to culture, it is the interpretation of the document and how things work in practice that deﬁnes culture. It is the everyday interaction and decisions made that create an organization’s sales culture. It is not the goal the organization has, rather it is the method employed in pursuit of the goal that deﬁnes an organizational culture. Only once an understanding of the current sales culture has been established can sales leaders begin to think about how they want to shape their envisioned sales atmosphere. It is a time consuming process that will evolve as the organization moves forward with their initiatives. © 2010 SLiA Group Inc., sliagroup.com Page 2 Sales Culture Change Will Create Resistance Sales leaders must seek to change the current culture within the organization to initiate change and create an atmosphere that is suited for sales success. However, change is not an overnight phenomenon. Sales leaders seeking to change the organizational culture must be sensitive to the organization’s feeling about change. Most people are inherently resistant to change. They take comfort in knowing what to expect. People also tend to fear that change could result in job loss, fewer sales, and lower commissions. Resistance can take many forms: • Passive aggressive behavior: Individuals only do enough to appear cooperative; however, they do not support the changes and try to do things their own way as much as possible • Follow through: Individuals agree to implement new initiatives; however, after a few weeks they are discarded • Refusal: Individuals outright refuse to participate in new initiatives Resistance can have a huge impact on sales performance. Sales leaders must reassure and communicate with their sales team about change to ensure compliance and make them feel as comfortable as possible. Change is a multi-step process. Changing a sales culture will take place over time. Attempting to change too quickly or too much will create confusion. Employees not only need to know what is changing, they also need to understand why change is occurring. They want to know the speciﬁcs of every change in culture before they will grant their consent. The organization’s acceptance of change is also a multi-step process. Upon the introduction of changes, the sales staff will be in denial. This will be followed with anger. Once the anger subsides, they will begin to bargain with the possibility of change until they accept it. Sales leaders must be prepared and work with their staff to enforce the new culture. Do not expect them to accept change quietly. Attempt to dispel misinformation and communicate all details of the changes as thoroughly as possible. How to Build Support and Maintain a Sales Culture Be excited about change. Excitement is contagious. Sales leaders must get fully behind their envisioned sales culture and show their enthusiasm. If sales reps can see that their sales leader is genuinely excited about the change that is to come, it will put them at ease and make them more willing to accept the new direction. A successful transition to a new sales culture takes time. It also requires a substantial amount of training. Upper management, sales leaders, and reps all require ample training to reduce transition issues. Management and sales leaders must be trained in terms of how to develop a new sales culture to replace current culture, and sales reps have to be trained in terms of transitioning to a new sales approach. © 2010 SLiA Group Inc., sliagroup.com Page 3 The following are guidelines about transitioning to a new sales culture: • Management has to drive the change; it will not happen spontaneously • Expectations of the new culture must be effectively communicated • Sales leaders must train and coach their staff in the updated methods and inform them of new expectations • Accountability and implementation start with the sales leader and radiate throughout the department • Be open, honest, and upfront as much as possible • Communicate challenges. Discuss why changes are taking place and educate reps (Please see “Communicating Challenging News”) • Build support by showing the goals and objective and vision of the culture © 2010 SLiA Group Inc., sliagroup.com Page 4 Putting into Practice Addressing Common Upper Management Diﬃcul7es Highligh7ng Common Diﬃcul7es Faced by Sales Leaders Sale Leadership in Action Group products are for the exclusive use of SLiA Group’s clients, and for internal purposes only. Members can use the document in whole or in part. The products are to be used for internal purposes only, pursuant to the terms and conditions of the paid memberships. Members may customize the tools and templates by editing titles, headers and footers with their company information. © 2010 SLiA Group Inc., sliagroup.com Page 5
"Creating a Quality Sales Culture"