Traditionally when talking about sales best practices, most of the emphasis has been placed on individual sales rep and sales management skill sets. But the more we have studied high performing sales teams, the more we have come to realize that the cart has often been placed before the horse. Perhaps sales teams would be even more successful if greater emphasis were initially directed towards creating a culture that drives individual excellence.
Here are four ideas we have found that help create a culture of sales excellence.
- Rewarding creative attempts as well as results. Today sales reps must function in very disruptive buying environments. To succeed they must try out different ideas for doing old things and new ideas for doing new things. This requires risk. Sometimes they will get it right; sometimes they won’t. So the sales leadership needs to create a culture where taking a well-planned risk is rewarded.
- Helping salespeople learn vs. telling them what to do. When it comes to establishing a culture of support one of the biggest traps for Sales Managers is coaching to their favorite plays – that is suggesting what they did in a similar situation. First, that was then and this is now. Second, we all have our own strengths and weaknesses, so your sales rep may not be able to pull off that play that was so successful for you and they may be able to plan and execute a play you could not.
- Encouraging team efforts. Customer expectations are changing. Today customers are looking for sales reps to be trusted advisors vs. product facilitators. In many cases the sales rep alone cannot reasonably supply all the desired expertise – hence the emergence of the team sale vs. the lone-wolf model. But effective sales teams do not just spring up on their own; they require a culture where team efforts are encouraged, trained, and rewarded.
- Profiling successful models. One of things we know about any organizational environment is that bad news tends to document itself – not always the case with good news. When someone or some team does something that is in line with the desired culture, make sure those actions are documented for awareness and reference.
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