As I tell friends and acquaintances, there is nothing boring about my job. Getting to work with sales leaders for some of the biggest and most successful sales teams in the world brings plenty of action and adventure. Along the way, I’ve noticed that the best of the best managers and leaders do something that others do not—they inspire their teams.
Creating a sales culture that inspires requires intentional and thoughtful culture building. And sales leaders that build inspiring cultures tend to focus on things that others ignore or miss.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself on the path to building an inspired sales culture:
Is My Sales Culture Inspired or Broken?
As a sales leader, are you the chicken or the egg? More specifically, do you allow sales culture to “happen” or do you create it with intentionality and purpose?
Sales culture is a bi-product of many factors: history, tradition, personalities, executive leadership, habits, performance, and market pressure, to name a few. Often it just happens—for better or for worse—but good sales leaders know that building a strong culture contributes to better results. Culture can be an enabler or a barrier to results that make or break our future. Great leaders seek to inspire, and they build an infrastructure and culture with intention and purpose to accomplish superior results.
Do I think About Purpose?
According to Lisa Earl McCleod, "Money is actually, and there's a lot of data on this, a good short-term motivator for some salespeople, but what we discovered when working with salespeople all around the globe … is that at a certain point, that ceases to be a primary motivator."
When it comes to finding purpose, one size does not fit all. Understanding what drives and motivates the individuals on our teams and our customers provides great insight as to how we behave and why we make the decisions we do. As sales leaders, we want to first understand drivers and then clearly develop a mission and roadmap that connects to purpose.
Are We Accountable to the Right Triggers?
Are we driving our sales team toward activity, or results? Are we “inspecting” or “enabling”? Too many sales managers push for activity that doesn’t actually lead to top performance and sales results. Establishing a clear set of expectations is paramount to creating a high performing sales culture, and those expectations should drive visibility into leading behaviors. After all, it is the leading activity that drives the lagging results.
Too much attention on lagging indicators and tactical activity drives the wrong behaviors, and misses valuable growth opportunity. Think GPS vs. rear view mirror!
Do We Practice High-Yield Communication?
High-yield conversation is intentional.
Let’s face it, as human beings we assume too much and validate too little. An inspired sales culture must be built around clear, concise, honest and safe communication. The quality of the questions we ask (and the intention behind our questions) carries an opportunity for deep understanding of our team and our customers. Aim to understand the real issues behind the issues. Elevating the quality of the questions you ask will prompt your team to provide answers that bring real insight into the customer, the account, and your people.
Do I Encourage Vulnerability?
We are human, and therefore most of us are not comfortable feeling vulnerable. Especially so in the company of our bosses. However, being vulnerable is the space where we grow, learn, develop and improve. Top performers and bottom performers benefit from being self-aware regarding areas of improvement and opportunity. Inspired sales cultures create a safe environment to expose what we don’t know.
Am I an Evangelist?
An inspired sales culture best takes root when the leader doubles as evangelist. Communication and repetition of a clear vision across a team and organization is not a lost effort. Your team benefits the most by you breaking down barriers that get in the way of selling, while pulling your organization along for the ride.
A great ride it is for those lucky enough to experience an inspired sales culture.