4 Signs That Your Sales Culture Has Rough Waters Ahead
Show me around under the hood of a company’s sales culture, and I’ll tell you exactly how successful (or unsuccessful) they are going to be. Of all that it takes to build a booming Sales Team, there is not a single thing that compares to its CULTURE. “What is Culture?” you ask. Culture is the core personality of an organization. It is that which defines the environment in which employees work, how they behave, and why they do what they do. Here are four easy to detect signs telling you that your Sales Culture is in for some rough waters.
1 — You’re getting average performance out of your team — Without a successful sales team no company can survive. I’m not saying that all of the other pieces that go into a company running smoothly don’t matter. They do. But, nothing in any business happens until a sale is made. With the success of the organization hinging upon the performance of the Sales Team, isn’t it of crucial importance that that team be performing at the highest peak possible? You would think so. But, you’d be amazed how many organization settle for average sales numbers. The bar of what you tolerate in terms of performance of your organization will tell you a ton about what your culture is like. Low bar of expectation with a high level of tolerance = poor sales culture. High bar of expectation with a low level of tolerance = excellent sales culture. It is your job as a leader of your organization to set a high bar for your people, teach and train them how to achieve that bar, and to hold them accountable to your expectations. This is not micromanagement — it is the foundation of a sales culture that wins.
2 — You keep losing top producers — You are going to find that these points are strangely interconnected. Culture is something that needs to be looked at holistically, and one problem tends to create another. This whole cycle is much like the doctor telling you that your back hurting isn’t actually your back — it’s your left knee causing the problem. When you look around and all of your best people keep leaving your company or your team, it’s time to take a big step back and dissect what is really going on. The number one reason that this is happening is your culture has slipped — figure out where and why. Winning players want to play on winning teams, and winning players are also very smart. When they see writing on the wall that things are slipping in the wrong direction they will jump ship to somewhere that has their culture right.
3 — You consistently have to hire from your competitors — This is where the spiral of death all begins. Your culture slips, you lose good people, you freak out that you don’t have enough talent. So you start to hire from the “outside.” I will go to the grave siding for the teams who hire, train, promote from within, and build up their own people within the organization. If you are not able to successfully hire unexperienced talent and train them up in your culture to be great then I’d challenge that you are in big trouble for lasting the test of time. Every time you hire or promote someone from outside the organization you water down the culture that has been built. Now, there are some circumstances where you HAVE to bring in people with needed experience — every company is different. But, before you do it look yourself in the mirror. Are you doing it because you HAVE to have the experienced skills or are you doing it because you are settling from not being able to build and train from within? If it’s justified and you must bring someone in from the outside it is crucial that you properly communicate the why to the team with 100% transparency. Secondly, make sure to create a very specific onboarding indoctrination process with company culture at the forefront. One bad hire can seriously damper the culture of a team.
4 — It smells too much like harmony — It is human nature for people to avoid confrontation and hard conversations. This is the same on any team. If there is a resounding harmony amongst the business or Sales Team I’d be willing to bet that it’s not because everything is perfect and there are no problems. It’s because problems and confrontations are being avoided, untouched, and left to hide in the shadows waiting to destroy your culture. Sales people (and all people for that matter) are not stupid. Just like toddlers, they are perfectly aware of what actions and behaviors they know they will be held accountable to and what ones will be allowed to slip. If your culture is not holding people accountable to a high bar of actions and behaviors, it is only a matter of time before everyone is doing the bare minimum. We all know how that story ends.
So, I challenge you to take a deep, honest look at the current culture of your business or team. Every single organization is either growing or dying, and without a rock-solid culture I can promise you that your future is the latter. What do the waters ahead look like for you?
Written by Josh Mastel — Founder, CEO of UpRoar Partners
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