Creating a Sales Culture

Creating a Sales Culture

For those of us with a background in sales and a career devotion to it, it’s always painful to hear our clients talking about “sales” with negative connotations. Often times a firm will tell us that they want to create a “sales culture” but they don’t want their employees to be “salesy”. It’s as if instituting a sales culture means that they will turn into sales vultures!

The picture that we get is that the employees will begin to assault the firm’s prospects and clients and try and sell them all kinds of unnecessary products and services. “We don’t want them to be salespeople,” our client firm will say. “We just want them to meet the customer needs more effectively.”

We recognize that we need to spend some time clearly defining the meaning of “sales culture”. What does it mean to have one in your company—or to want one for your employees? What is “sales culture” and how does it manifest?

First, let’s look at the semantics involved. Somehow in our culture the word “sales” has become associated with very negative ideas. A salesperson is one who talks too much, is rather self-involved and doesn’t seem to care what the prospect or client needs, but rather just sells whatever they want. The whole idea of a salesperson, created by non-sales people, is a very negative one. Any idea about training people how to be more salesy is met with hesitation and concern by both the employee and the firm.

What is sales? It is the human exchange of ideas where one person is conveying a need and desire and the other person is working to understand what the need is and whether or not they are able to meet it. In a good sales situation, the sales person listens more than they talk, and really works hard to uncover what the person on the other side of the exchange is trying to accomplish. The best salespeople don’t sell things that won’t meet the need and don’t “push” their own product or service at all costs.

A “sales culture” means that a customer, or client, who walks in the door of the firm has the experience of being:

  • Understood by the firm’s employees, personally “known” and valued by them
  • Listened to by the firm and its employees
  • Informed about the offerings of the firm such that the customer can make decisions about doing additional business with the firm
  • Asked, “What matters to you, Mr. or Ms. Customer?”
  • Associated with employees who are excited and enthusiastic to have the pleasure to serve them
  • Taken care of such that all of their needs are understood and considered
  • Happy and content to do business with this particular firm

When a firm is exhibiting a true sales culture, the customer experience will be all of these things, and more. Does this sound so bad? Would you like your customers to have this kind of experience working with your employees and your firm?

It’s time to “reframe” opinions about sales and sales culture. The best firms understand that sales are a natural extension of treating your employees well, treating your customers with the utmost respect and concern and really working hard—each and every day—to meet your customer’s needs.