I can’t tell you the number of times I have asked sales personnel why they are leaving their current job, and had candidates respond with: “the culture’s terrible”. This could be for a number of reasons; Staff feel undervalued, unfulfilled, bored, they dislike the people they work for or with, they feel like they are not growing, the hours are too long, the work is too stressful or they just don’t have enough light in their office. It could be one or all of these reasons, and many more. One of the biggest contributing factors to staff being unhappy in their job is the lack of culture in an organisation.
But what is culture, exactly?
Culture is defined by a number of different factors in your business. Everything from the employees you hire, to the physical environment, and even dress code can shape a team’s culture. Culture is about more than just having office parties and financial remuneration. Happiness at work comes from a culture that values and challenges employees, not one that simply uses perks to cover over the fact that someone may hate their job. Great culture is about working with people you enjoy, having a strong network of support at work, feeling valued and being stimulated.
Sales personnel are the heart and face of a company – they speak with clients (both present client and potential future clients) all the time. They often have quite a difficult job, and frequently encounter rejection and high levels of stress, so it is important that they feel like they are part of something bigger. Unhappy and under-stimulated sales staff could be disastrous for your business; high staff turnover means high staff costs, and clients who are wary of your business.
By creating a great sales culture your business can benefit from high staff retention and even higher client retention. If staff are happy, they are more likely to sing your praises to new and existing clients, who will likely feel more comfortable with your company handling their account. Creating sales culture will also help ensure that you keep the morale of your team high, and ultimately ensure that your team works harder and sells more.
So how do I create great team culture?
Choose the right people – people you don’t mind working until 3am with, people you enjoy talking to, people who you would have a coffee with, or invite to your home. You might think that hiring the most experienced person is the best decision, but they might just not be the right fit for your company. Don’t just hire people because you need someone fast, or because they seem brilliant on paper. Hiring staff is also about personality and cultural fits – if you don’t get a good feeling that someone will fit in, make sure you understand why. If you need to, have several interviews with a potential employee to make sure you are 100% certain about hiring that person.
Make a time for your team to come together every week
Sales teams often don’t spend that much time together. They are usually out and about seeing clients. Creating a space for them to come together at least once a week and discuss what they are working on, any issues they might have, how their past week was and encouraging them to talk to each other frequently can help them to build a sense of being part of the wider team, and not like they are an island. If you work in an environment where the sales team does spend a decent amount of time together, then try to ensure that you do have weekly touch bases with the whole team anyway.
Do things with your team outside of work
Often sales personnel do not spend much time in the office. They are out all day and may not spend that much time with their team. Creating a relaxed environment where they can get to know one another in a more social setting, and also feel part of that team, can go a long way to boosting their morale. It will also help them to bond with the team, and give them a sense of belonging to the company’s valued team. Ideally, you would also get them to interact socially with some of the other employees in the company too in order to make them feel part of the company.
The office environment
Office décor might be the very last thing on your list, but a happy, comfortable and interesting space can go a long way towards making employees feel a little bit more at home in the space where they spend their time. If your sales team spends at least a little time in your office, encourage them to make the space their own, ensure that they have access to tea and coffee, that the space is welcoming, and feels inviting.
Ongoing training and development
Training and investment in the skills of your sales team shows that the business cares about their growth and development within the organisation. Nothing is worse for a dedicated hard working employee than feeling like they are not advancing. By allowing them the opportunity to advance their skill-set, you are arming them with the tools they need to work harder for your company, but also giving them something to take into their future.
Encourage feedback and communication
Make your team members feel like they are given ample support on a day-to-day basis, that you listen to and action their feedback and that you give them constructive feedback frequently. This will demonstrate that you are an engaged leader, with their interests at heart, and are actively seeking ways to improve and guide their performance.
Create a strong connection between sales staff and technical experts and other avenues in your business
Putting your sales team in close touch with the other areas of the business will make your sales team feel like they are part of the business decisions and have a deeper understanding of how everything operates. The more they have access to other parts of the business, and the more they understand your business, the better they will be able to sell.
Incentivise hard work with rewards
Meritocracies are beneficial. Sales is a numbers game, after all. The harder your sales staff work, the more your company will earn. Simple maths. Sales staff often have no incentive to work just a little extra if there is nothing in it for them. I am not just talking about commission-based rewards and meeting targets with a bonus at the end of it. I am talking about giving staff a weekend away or an iPad for top performers. Even little things like days off work can motivate people to be the best.
However you choose to focus your efforts on creating a sales culture within your organisation, try to remember that at the heart of any great culture are the people. If you get that right, it goes a long way towards creating a strong, healthy team of happy employees. And happy, passionate and motivated employees mean hard work and ultimately happy clients.