What Drives Your Sales Culture?

In the last blog article, I discussed how the Global Workforce Study on workforce culture reported the highest level of employee dissatisfaction in the study’s 23 year history. Employee dissatisfaction can be especially damaging to a company’s sales culture, threatening client relationships and overall company growth. There are many companies that have compelling products and services and good people to sell them, but have a weak culture that undermines performance. Understanding your sales culture is required in order to determine what changes are needed to make a team more effective. The first step is to determine the drivers of a company sales culture, and the threats to its effectiveness.

What is Culture?

Before we dive too far into the drivers of a sales culture it’s important to understand what culture is and how it impacts team productivity. Company culture can be described as a set of unwritten rules that determine employee behavior and decision making. Culture determines what is appropriate and inappropriate for interactions between employees, their managers, and clients. Measuring the impact of an effective culture is very difficult, but anyone who has witnessed both high performance and low performance organizations understands its impact on company effectiveness.

Internal Drivers

Sales Strategy: Your sales strategy defines your clients, what services you provide, and the sales process you use to take it to market. An organization that doesn’t have a sales strategy that is aligned with their sales culture lacks the ability to consistently coordinate resources, communicate value to the market, establish appropriate client relationships, and ensure effective delivery of solutions.

Management Styles: The management styles that leadership employs impacts the company culture both through their personalities as well as the management tactics they decide to use. For example, management styles that are very forceful and intrusive may not be consistent with a company that needs their sales team to take risks and drive innovative approaches to the market. This inconsistency between management style and success factors can confuse the team and lead to low employee morale.

Team Composition: The seniority of a team can have a significant impact on the type of culture leadership can develop. If an organization chooses to change their hiring profile then it should assess the company culture and determine what changes need to occur in order for that profile to be successful. Hiring people in order to change the company culture without proper preparation is a common mistake that leaders make that can lead to higher employee turnover and decreased performance.

External Drivers

Buyers: Even in strong economies buyers are consistently looking for ways to get better value from their vendors. These pressures can challenge how a company engages their buyers and the type of sales people they need to support their accounts. Because of this, it’s important to evaluate your current sales culture to ensure it’s aligned with the changing needs of your buyers.

Economy: Policies and approaches that were once effective in a strong economy can quickly become counterproductive when economic growth stalls. Employees look for management to change outdated policies, and by not doing so managers can be perceived to be out of touch or unwilling to make the necessary changes. This inaction undermines the team’s confidence in leadership and negatively impacts team morale.

Competitors:Employee confidence in their company is often based on how they believe their company compares to the competition. If employees believe that their competitors have a stronger performance cultures they can become demoralize. The impact of this perception is not just cultural it also increases the flight risk of your most capable employees.

I would be interested in hearing your take on what drives your company culture, including any challenges or additional insights. Please feel free to share your comments to further the conversation.

Next week I will discuss in more detail the internal drivers and how leaders can manage them to ensure a culture of performance.