Top 10 rules for building a successful sales culture

Observer writer

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

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The fact is that many people are being asked to do sales when they don't like to sell. The corporate culture has shifted to the point where even security guards are being asked to take on part of the sales process, such as handing out brochures or even taking contact information.

That said, we asked co-founder of sales training firm THINK GROW LEAD, Duane Lue-Fung how companies can drive a culture of sales where traditionally, there has not been one.

“More and more firms that aren't traditionally sales-driven are finding it necessary to finally build more of a sales culture. They know they need to do a better job at selling in order to deal with increasing competition, fewer call-ins, commoditisation of their products and services, aging rainmakers looking at retirement, etc. Management seems to understand that they need to be more proactive [in] bringing in business, cross-selling and upselling. They're saying the right words, they're asking the right questions, but can they pull it off?”

This is a source for stress for many employees.

Recently, a sales representative bemoaned the impact of social media on her sales as people were turning to Instagram when they, in the past, would call her for help in marketing their items.

For a situation like this, Lue-Fung notes, “Many of these same executives, when it comes time to assess their employees, become hypocritical. The reason to evaluate a group like this is to learn who it would be fair to ask to participate in more aggressive business development. It's nice to want more of a sales culture but a morale-killer to ask people unsuitable or disinterested in the task to participate. Another reason to evaluate people is to determine what realistic expectations should be for their group, and of course, training. What kind of help will the group need? What kinds of weaknesses do they have, and what kinds of issues will they have difficulty overcoming?”

Take a scenario where an employee named Francis was an excellent salesperson for a hot commodity at a telecommunications store. When she transferred to another company, selling unit trusts and other financial products, she could not meet the target. This situation is not unusual when an analysis of the type of employee and their suitability for sales is brought up.

Lue-Fung explains, “Some managers begin to get protective (threatened) at this point. Can you soften the language? Those questions don't apply. Do they want to create more of a sales culture or not? Post-evaluation they'll learn that some employees are totally wrong for participating in business development and they'll ask to make exceptions. They'll ask for training and then ruin it by saying that a particular approach won't work in their business (as if they would know!).”

And so to get the most out of a company's bottom line, Lue-Fung highlights the following regarding developing more of a sales culture:

1. The culture won't change on its own.

2. The culture won't change without someone in management driving that change.

3. The culture won't change without identifying the people who should participate.

4. The culture won't change without simple, basic expectations.

5. The culture won't change without showing them how to do what they need to do to meet the expectations.

6. The culture won't change without training them with the necessary skills to provide them some ability and confidence.

7. The culture won't change without coaching.

8. The culture won't change without getting outside expert advice.

9. The culture won't change unless there is an early emphasis on low-risk concepts like cross-selling, upselling, calling inactive customers/clients, and trolling for referrals.

10. The culture won't change unless management holds everyone accountable.

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