By Pat Barry
What is a good sales culture? How do you measure it? Personally, I have not seen a proven formula that accurately determines a good, bad or average sales culture. Historically, promotional products distributors look at sales representative retention, organic sales, and survey data—but does all that truly reflect the reality of sales culture within a particular distributorship?
I do know this: To have a prominent sales culture, you need your sales representatives to be involved. That can be easier said than done. Like many industry distributors, Boundless has an independent contractor sales force, all of whom work outside our corporate office in Austin. So, how do we keep our people involved and participating?
To improve sales participation, I believe you first need to examine the three types of salespeople and their willingness to get involved:
- The Go Getter enjoys anything that involves team spirit and corporate interaction. Participation amongst this group is high.
- The Go With The Flow sales professional is a willing participant but inconsistent in their overall involvement. They usually do not instigate team collaboration but generally enjoy becoming involved.
- The Let Me Be sales professional is someone that enjoys doing their own thing and has limited involvement.
Our goal at Boundless is to develop a sales culture where all sales professionals feel comfortable sharing insight and successes with their peers. But how do you get these three very different sales personalities working together to achieve this goal?
We focus on three things:
1. Sharing Successes and Failures: All salespeople like to hear the granular details of why another salesperson was successful with a specific project or account. We share these successes by having individuals speak to their specific actions that drove success, and then we encourage peers to engage in a short Q&A. Equally important is for individuals to share what did not work, what they wish they could have done differently, and then open the floor for feedback from peers. We conduct this sharing via large and small group round table sessions. In addition, we document and record for future training.
2. Google Sales Groups: This allows us to leverage the “sales brain” of the organization. If a salesperson is looking for an idea, product, or feedback on a sales approach, they simply send an email and everyone within the sales organization receives it. This is the easiest vehicle to ignite sharing of ideas among your sales team.
3. Recognition: Every salesperson (whether they want to admit it or not) enjoys being recognized for their success. We publicly recognize great sales performance on a weekly, monthly and annual basis. Salespeople by nature are inquisitive and want to know what others are doing to achieve success. It opens a sharing behavior that ideally leads to other salespeople thinking, “Hey, I can do that!”
All of this sounds simple and like common sense. And it is! The hard part, however, is that it requires discipline in providing consistent and valuable content to your salesfolk to help boost their involvement.
If you can get your salespeople sharing insight and behaviors that drive revenue, that is the best professional growth investment you can make for your entire sales team.
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