A good team…but something is missing?
Effective leadership is doing the right things. Effective management is doing things right.Stephen Covey – 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People
In our articles about sales leadership we share the key traits that you might expect to see in a great sales leader; Knowledge, Knowing the team, motivation, consistency and effective Communication Skills being among the skills and abilities necessary. You may find you are achieving results and the short term is looking great. You may feel your effective leadership is building a fantastic culture but there may also be a risk that the sustainability of these results is unknown.
Having spoken about leadership in great depth we wanted to explore what we think can help define and create an effective sales culture across the team.
The sales team is likely to be increasing in size.
In a recent report produced by the East Midlands Chamber; Skills Recovery In South Yorkshire, it was believed that 45% of businesses in manufacturing expect to see an increase in their workforce with 24% of businesses saying they will find it difficult to recruit in sales, 24% finding it difficult to recruit for business development, 23% senior managers and 20% in finding the right leaders.
What primary skill are people looking for in their B2B sales recruit?
In our own straw poll researching the primary skills that those recruiting B2B sales professionals will be looking for, we found that tenacity is a key attribute that interests the recruiters or leaders with resilience a close second. Nobody cited compliance a the primary factor in their B2B recruitment search.
Tenacity is that fierce blend of determination, persistence and grit. It’s interesting that we are wanting people to be tenacious in their work. It suggests that we are looking for people who can think on their feet, use their initiative and be prepared to proactively seek opportunities. But perhaps recruiting Mr or Mrs Tenacious without the development of structure of process could lead to them becoming a bit of a loose cannon or a person who develops habits not consistent with the culture you’re trying to create?
Resilience traits tend to include empathy, calm under stress, hope, and self control. I think it’s fair to say in sales there may well be some knockbacks. No might be a word to become friendly with and the ability to handle objections, accept rejection and understand when the opportunity is not a good one is a good skill to have. However, if we don’t create the confidence and up-skilling required for our resilient team to perform, resilience will be tested over time. We may find this person becomes disconnected, more hesitant to try new things, and become more withdrawn from the team.
An effective sales culture is what we aim for.
Three common themes are evident when it comes to strategically building and improving your sales team; Confidence, process, structure – three powerful components that help more prominently at different stages and in different parts of the business but each as equally important as the other in the support of your sales team or new sales recruits.
This can lead to an unbalanced view of your wider sales team and challenges the ability to sustain the winning sales success you might enjoy in the short term, despite recruiting or focussing on the primary skillset you set out to enhance.
You may see an increase in staff churn, internal challenges and a disconnected team. Let’s look a little more at the challenges these components bring and the opportunities which can be presented by improving our confidence, process and structure to help our tenacious and resilient new recruits.
Focus on improving the behaviours within the sales team and have some strong expected benefits for all.
Download the developing an effective sales culture e-book to identify how you might develop and sustain your sales culture within the organisation.
Support your sales team with the components of an effective sales culture.
How to create a culture to support the tenacious sales professional.
Let’s unpack this a little more and see how the components of an effective sales culture can only benefit the skills that your sales team bring. Let’s take Mr Tenacious as a first example. Mr Tenacious is determined, persistent and has grit and desire. We could assume that Mr Tenacious is quite a confident addition to the team which on the face of things is fantastic, just what we need to get back in the saddle again as we all return to normal. But if we bring Mr T into the business with no process we run the risk of not giving them a steer or direction on what is expected. If Mr T comes into a team that ‘doesn’t do it that way’ , without the framework that process can deliver you might soon find a fractured team behaving in different ways to what should be expected.
Risk of lacking process include
- Lack of accountability
- Poor service
- Knowledge gaps
By developing a process for your organisation you might find a tenacious team is able to deliver consistently improved customer service, finds the provision to hold and be held accountable within the team, and even transfer shared knowledge across the team for all-round improvement.
How to create a culture to support the resilient sales team member.
Resilience is evidenced by the ability to accept objection and or rejection and the acceptance that we must press on in the face of adversity with persistence and consistency to the quality of our work. An example though of where our three components can help support a culture to support the resilient sales professional is that of confidence. Does your culture encourage the faith, increase in skill and support to continue to press on?
Risk to neglecting confidence as a component of your sales culture
- Disjointed management team
- inwardly reluctant team
- Slow down in results
- ‘what we’ve always done’ mentality
If confidence is a missing component of your sales culture as recognised by the risks above, you can expect several benefits by working to remedy this exclusion but perhaps recognising this gap is the biggest first step.
Expected benefits of improving the confidence of the sales team
- Agile to customer needs
- Loyal and more open to and embracing of change
- Self accountable
- Happy to take responsibility
- increased overall effectiveness.
So where does structure fit?
We’ve addressed the component parts of a sales culture that could better support the skillset that our tenacious and resilient sales team bring to the sales function. At all levels and roles however, we can encompass structure as the third component to our sales culture. As an organisation you may focus on process to help Mr Tenacious, and you may have built a confidence building environment to support the resilience of the new team. But without tapping in to an effective structure you may be open to more risks that can manifest in several ways. Do you recognise any of these traits within your organisation?
The risk of not addressing lack of structure
- Middle management without direction
- Disconnected team and management
- Ideas but no consistent approach
- Difficult to measure success or failure or ‘good ideas’
Expected benefits for improving your sales structure.
- Faster decision making
- Improved operating efficiency
- Greater employee performance
- Reduced conflict
- Better communication
- Repeatable and accountable at all levels
Suggested takeaways from this article.
This article has aimed to highlight the opportunities your company or sales team has to improve their skills whilst you, the sales leader, are harnessing the three main components that we think enables a successful and long-lasting effective sales culture.
- Focussing on primary skills is good, but be prepared to improve your component parts of the sales culture
- Revisit your sales culture and ask yourself if you are viewing it with a balanced lens or a biased lens
- Aim to improve the areas in which you are weak. Two strong components risk creating gaps.
- Revisit your sales culture periodically and challenge yourself and the team to consistently improve and work towards sustaining a meaningful sales culture across the whole business.
- Take action and don’t ignore the risks that you may face by not addressing the components of an effective sales culture