Todd Cohen is a prominent thought leader on sales culture and is also my great friend and colleague. He states, “sales culture is one where everyone in the organization is in sales.” As Todd emphasizes, learning is selling, and education is selling. He believes, and I wholeheartedly agree, every conversation is a selling moment. I’d like to share three characteristics of a great sales culture.
The first is that everyone in your organization puts the needs of the client first. Whether it’s the sales professional, the person in accounts receivable or information technology, everyone needs to really understand that without your clients, you’re not in business! Pay attention and remember to take care of their needs pre-sale and post-sale, whether they are complimenting your products or service, or they’re disappointed in a delivery…LISTEN and respond.
Clients are the lifeline of your company and they are your best advocate when they refer other clients to you. Every time someone gets on the phone with a client, it’s a sales opportunity. Your clients expect excellent response, and they expect you to be cordial and have an attitude to help in any way even if it’s not your job. Everyone in the company needs to take ownership when serving the client.
A fitting example is Massage Envy where I go to get a monthly massage. They call two days in advance with a reminder of my appointment with Rich. When I get there, they greet me by saying, “good to see you Stu, we have you checked in with Rich.” When I leave they ask me how my massage was, would I like to book another appointment with Rich and would you like to pay with your card on file. Quick, easy, pleasurable and memorable. Everyone is focused on me, which should be the goal of everyone in the company.
The second characteristic of a great sales culture is the willingness to take risk. Sometimes we need to step out of our comfort zone when a client asks for something that’s never been done before. If we never take risk, we are surely missing out on new opportunities and on taking our performance with our clients to a new level. It’s been said that you never learn from mistakes you never made. We learn from trial and error and no one should be punished for making a mistake. It’s a learning opportunity and it hopefully keeps us from making the same mistake again.
A few examples…
How about shipping product to a client knowing the purchase order hasn’t come in house yet. But you trust them when they say it’s coming but they need the product immediately. Or maybe it’s delivering the product knowing they’re over their credit limit, but their past performance shows them living up to their word. Risk is okay when we know there is limited liability to the company’s overall financial health.
The last characteristic of a great sales culture is leveraging the entire team to please the client. A great sales culture has all departments in the company aligned to value and support the client. Every team should be doing what they can to please the client. It’s sales, service, information technology, delivery and accounts receivable, all having the same attitude of stellar service. The Scandinavian root word for sales is “to serve.” I believe that says it right there. When we serve our clients, sales will continue to happen.
A great sales culture starts from the top of the company. Everyone serves the client first. We take risk when it helps the client through a specific need and the entire team works together aligned to wow the client.