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To Build a Sales Culture

Part of our mission statement at The Brooks Group is to help our clients build Sales Cultures. And, often, when we’re sharing that goal, we get asked….”What’s a sales culture.” Here’s my take. It’s adapted from my father’s 2004 best-selling book, The New Science of Selling and Persuasion.

1. The sales department must be or have the potential to be profitable.
  • If there's no profit derived from the sales department, it's hard to justify its existence. A sales effort is only one of many ways to generate revenue. Many organizations operate solely through marketing. Others employe a dealer network. In any event, to have a Sales Culture, there needs to be a (potentially) profitable sales effort in place already.
2. The entire enterprise must realize -- and believe -- that it could not stand solely on its own without a proactive sales effort.
  • "Nothing happens until something gets sold," the old saying goes. And it's true. Everyone must realize that nothing moves until the widget gets sold.
3. The sales department must be championed by a well-placed set of internal constituencies that support the sales effort without equivocation.
  • The best case scenario occurs when these internal constituencies are in the C-Suite. It's important for the "top" to have come from sales. For example, if a CEO "carried a bag" at one time in her career, it's a lot easier to successfully construct a sales culture.
4. The sales department must be well managed by respected managers and have performance standards that exceed even the most demanding standards of other departments.
  • People respect others who are held to the same standards as they are. It's hard for everyone to respect a sales department with lax expectations. If, on the other hand, salespeople are expected to work harder than their colleagues in other departments, a natural outcome is respect -- even admiration!
5. Members of the sales department must interface with other departments favorably.
  • Put tritely, "everyone needs to play well together." Aggressiveness is rewarded in sales. However, it can be a very unfortunate trait within an organization. Organizations with sales cultures ensure their sales teams understand that there are times to be accommodating.
6. The sales department must bring collateral value to the enterprise.
  • More than just sales volume, the department must contribute to the overall organizational goals. The sales department should enrich the entire team. Smart companies know that salespeople offer a valuable voice to questions like how to improve tactical marketing, ways to enhance customer service, and even what new products to develop.
7. The members of the sales department must mesh culturally with enterprise standards of performance, decorum, and behavior.
  • Here's the example straight from the book: "We have a client whose salespeople visit the home office only two to three times per year...as a rule, the office is a quiet, reserved operation and workers are protective of their property and offices." It's critical that the VP of Sales reminds the salespeople of this protocol during their visits.
8. The sales department must be made up of competent, capable, high-performance-oriented people.
  • Sales is too important to allow incompetent, uncaring, or poor-performing salespeople to languish too long. Everyone in the sales department must be committed to working hard and smart. That means the sales culture should reward performance and results, not activity.

So, that's what a sales culture looks like. Actually building one is another story altogether. But it's work we live and love to do. @JebBrooks