- Have you ever heard someone in your company says, “Oh, no, I’m not in sales”? Everyone who comes in contact with the customer has the opportunity to make or break that relationship. That is sales. Each of your employees should be a walking advertisement for your company. Why would you want anyone working for you who wasn’t? The single most important thing a CEO can do is create a culture of sales—one that lives and breathes sales, one that supports every sales effort.Everyone should be reminded that without sales, the company will go out of business and they’ll be out of a job. Without customers, there is no company. If all employees are focused on sales and how what they do affect sales, the culture will begin to change and sales will increase.Understanding the role of sales
Few people truly understand what sales is and what salespeople do. Part of sales is building relationships, but that’s only part of it. Sales is a lot of hard work, requiring considerable energy and planning. Salespeople have to be in a good mood, they have to be exceptional listeners and they have to be patient and persistent at the same time. They also have to battle against negative views that customers may have from problems caused by customer service, accounting or other departments in the company.
That’s another reason everyone has to understand how what they do is related to sales. Repeat business is critical. Each customer touch has be satisfactory (if not outstanding), so that not only do you retain customers, but they become a source of referrals.
In hiring for any position, I suggest including some of these questions:In your past positions, how have you been involved with sales?
- How would you promote this company to your friends and family?
- What ideas do you have for selling our product?
- How do you see the role you are applying for assisting with sales and interacting with the sales team?New hires might have some incredible and unique ideas about sales. Not only that, but by asking these questions you set the expectations that they will be doing their jobs with a focus on sales and that you expect them to represent your company in the community.
- Employees and sales
- What would happen if all of your employees loved and understood your company so much they became walking advertisements for it? What if each employee, each year just brought in one additional sale because they talked about your company with those they met?Building a sales culture takes time and focus. Here’s what you need to get started:
- Do an employee satisfaction survey. Find out what your staff thinks about your organization, other departments and sales.
- Start hiring with sales in mind. Ask your sales team to provide some interview questions.
- Make sure every employee (even the custodian) understands your company’s mission, vision and goals, along with a general understanding of your products and services, and who your target audience is. Review all of this information with them annually.
- Have volunteers from all departments shadow your salespeople to learn more about sales.
- Have your salespeople give employees a presentation on what they do and how they do it.
- Make sure Sales and Marketing work together and that Marketing is generating leads for sales.
- Have employees participate on support teams for sales.
- Move towards performance-based pay where each employee’s pay is tied to sales success.
- Reward employees for sales leads.
- Send employees from all different departments to networking events with your salespeople.Following these guidelines will generate momentum toward a true sales culture within your organization. If you already have a great sales culture, remember to appreciate employees publicly. Give them kudos and rewards to acknowledge their efforts. Vistage Associate Alice R. Heiman is president of ARH Consulting, LLC, a sales consulting and sales management firm based in Reno, Nev.