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10 Questions Sales Managers Should Ask About Their Sales Culture


Culture is defined as a way of life for a group of people. When in doubt about what to do, the members will fall back on what they have learned from their culture. They don’t even think about it—they just know what their culture would tell them to do.

Business organizations all have a culture, and when you walk into a business and take an instant like or dislike to being there, you are experiencing their culture. Sometimes they don’t even have to say anything—it’s an attitude you can almost feel.

Business-to-business organizations don’t often have potential customers walk into a physical location. Often a salesperson is how the client and prospect experience your organization’s culture. What is your sales culture telling them?

The word culture has roots in the concept “to cultivate.” When you build a culture, you truly are cultivating the behaviors and values of your team. You're setting the bar for what they do when you’re not looking.

Let’s look at 10 questions you can ask yourself to determine what kind of sales culture you are building:

1. Are you providing product training or process training?

Training your sales team on your products is a given, but the thing that will stand out most to clients and prospects is your sales “process.”  It really comes down to how you do business. How do you do business?

2. Is the manager setting training deadlines or defining desired behaviors?

Most companies think long and hard about investing in sales training, and then sabotage the results. They focus on deadlines, when what they really need to focus on is whether or not their team is putting the desired behaviors into practice.

 3. Is the manager observing in the field and giving feedback on actual behaviors?

Unless sales managers are getting out from behind the desk, from behind another report, they will never really know if their teams are actually practicing the desired behaviors they want.

4. Are your required sales activity reports tracking the behavior you want?

Accountablilty continues with the reports and tracking you require of your sales staff. Are you tracking the type of quality activities that lead to landing new key acocunts, or is the emphasis on volume and blue sky projections?

5. Are you stressing in your sales meetings the activity you want or demanding results without direction? 

If you poll most salespeople, they often cite their group sales meetings as their least-productive required activity. Many managers focus on where the numbers are today and where they need to be. But what they fail to do is to stress to the team how they want them to get there.

6. Do you continually allow counter-productive behavior that undermines your culture?

Many salespeople are quick to recognize the lowest level of behavoir that is tolerated, and they set that as the bar. Sure, good salespeople will still strive to do better then the bar you set, but when you look the other way when one rep is bending the rules, they notice.

7. Do you recognize and celebrate the behaviors that build the right culture?

Are you taking time to put the spotlight on the activities and successes of your salespeople that define the culture you are trying to build? Don’t be too busy for this. Positive reinforcement is always more powerful than negative.

8. Do you have a well-defined system that salespeople know they can fall back on? 

When the going gets tough, have you provided your staff with a selling system they can rely on? Not one that ties their hands and leaves little room for their own style, but one they can count on when they need more structure and help with what to do next with a tough prospect.

9. Do you share what you want your team to stand for in the marketplace? 

This is building a brand for your company and your sales team. Sure, salespeople know they need to sell, but don’t send them out on the street without some guidance about what values you stand for.

10. Do the other departments with client contact understand the sales culture you are trying to maintain? 

And finally, don’t forget to make sure that everyone in your organization who has a client-facing role understands the sales culture you are trying to build. Be sure your contact with other departments is a time to make this clear and empowers them to support your efforts.   

What do you think? Are you cutlivating the type of behaviors you want your organization to be known for in the marketplace? Don’t wait to start.

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Topics: sales management, sales culture