In part one of the the debacle at Wells Fargo and I outlined how what occurred there is not at all what a sales culture is. In fact that entire mess did nothing but give a bad name and a black eye to all honest and hardworking sales professionals, not to mention the many honest and decent bankers both in and out of Wells Fargo. It reinforced the negative stereotypes of sales and the tactics that a small minority employed to achieve goals. The news has abated somewhat and the CEO is now gone. I suspect that the problems will only intensify at the bank but that’s not the point of this article.
So now what? What can a company do to ensure that they are doing everything they can to not have this happen to them? Here are my basics steps to a sales culture.
1. Sales are more than numbers and metrics. Sales are about behavior, mindset and relationships. Relationships are long term currency that you do not disrespect or give lip service too in a meaningless mission statement.
I have read just about every sales methodology out here and I still ( crazily) believe that if you bully people they are less likely to buy. What do people who claim to “have the answer to sales” not get about that? One very popular sales methodology today advocates essentially poking your customer in the eye and being a prideful contrarian. Good luck with that long term.
2. A sales culture does not sacrifice its people. In a sales culture sales people are not forced into executing on sales tactics that question their integrity and core. Further you don’t ask people who are the least equipped to do the most. It is cowardly to set people up for failure and I place that cowardice and blame on senior management, the board and those who stood to profit the most. If you set people up to succeed then people will succeed.
3. Sales are not powered by hubris. Achieving attainable sales goals means that hubris and arrogance need to be erased before any success can be achieved. This eradication of hubris begins with the CEO and is present in every conversation and connection he has with the organization. The culture is one of humility and vulnerability. Bigger is rarely better. When a CEO and their henchman are a slave to the street and decry sales goals that are reckless, they create a toxic and failing culture.
4. Silos kill companies. I have talked about the deadly effect that silos have on companies and the sales culture. Senior management needs to be present, be seen, and be available for the sales culture to thrive. Everyone needs to see HOW they have a role in the sale dialogue.
5. Collaboration without consequences. In a sales culture good business – quality businessis what counts! This is what Wells Fargo missed. Any business obtained any way – legal or otherwise is what mattered. “Eight is great” the phrase coined by the now departed CEO was their rallying cry. What a crock. Defining and closing quality business is a total company exercise and people MUST have the ability to call it for what it is. Every single member must be unafraid to stop bad business – possibly illegal actions – without fear of retaliation.
6. Sales culture takes courage. To establish a sales culture – or any culture that puts the client first and allows collaboration without consequences takes courage and guts. Giving people a voice and creating internal trust and transparency is the essence of a sales culture. Everyone must be willing to hear and absorb messages that are about the customer and not the singular chase of unattainable and ridiculous sales targets.
7. Define what sales IS for everyone. Companies with a sales culture are populated by people who understand what sales are and are not. One of the best projects I ever did was to give a “sales 101” class to the entire organization after we finished sales training. That one class have the rest of the organization a very good view into what sales is and is not and HOW they contribute every day. People LOVED this and it actually resulted in more creativity and that led to more sales. Sales training for the masses as it were. Its expensive and worth it. The ideas that emanate and creativity it will stimulate will almost immediately produce results. In a sales culture I work to destroy the very negative stereotype of sales professionals that Wells firmly re established. Thanks alot.
8. The eyes matter. In a sales culture, the best sales and ideas come from people who don’t see themselves in the direct selling role, but they have eyes and ears and “see” opportunity every single day. Is the culture on where they can speak up and share their vision? Or is the culture one where there are consequences for speaking up? Encourage people ideas in a meaningful way.
9. Train, train and train again. You want results? Give people the tools. Cutting your training budget and expecting higher results is unrealistic and stupid. Train people in way that they understand and they are comfortable with repeating the behaviors needed to succeed.
In part three of this series, I will share some tactics and executable ideas to move from a siloed culture to a sales culture. So much more to share!
In the meantime, here is some additional reading on this topic
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