A "company-wide sales culture." Every CEO and business owner dreams of it, but few realize it. It is where everyone in the organization plays some role in supporting sales and growth efforts, though roles will vary. The most commonly cited reason for its absence is that most of an organization's employees aren't sales professionals and therefore don't have selling skills. That may be true, but it is not a valid deterrent.
At the heart of any company-wide sales culture is a belief in the philosophy that nothing happens until a sale is made. No one at your company would be employed if it weren't for the team's selling efforts. With that idea in mind, the role every employee must play in supporting the sales process becomes clear.
The objection heard most often by employees without sales backgrounds is "we don't have time for sales" or "current customers are more important than new ones." Of course your customers are important; however, it's not an either/or choice.
I understand the struggle to focus on both given our innate tendency to gravitate toward what we know. Here's a perfect example. I enjoy client work. I do not enjoy financial analysis. I recognize that financial analysis is critical to our company's financial stability and growth. I'd prefer to focus all my time on client work -- stretching that work to fill my day and far over-delivering for clients in the process, in an effort to avoid financial analysis. But I know that without financial analysis, the business will die.
Without business development, your business will die. You certainly can't grow without an active sales effort, and unless you retain 100 percent of your customers, you won't keep the doors open without that selling effort. As CEO or business owner, you must help your employees realize this truth.
What can you do to create a sales culture? Help employees understand how they will benefit. Developing a sales culture empowers them to create their own success and future job opportunities by helping the company grow. Then begin with small steps such as teaching your entire staff how to deliver an elevator pitch and inspiring them to see sales leads in their day-to-day interactions -- both personally and professionally.
Establish a program that rewards and recognizes all-stars in your sales culture. Give those employees access to management. Hear their ideas. Let them lead important initiatives. They are your future and will inspire others along the way. Be sure to also layer in sales tools, coaching and accountability. Making it a fun and rewarding process will help employees get on board.
Even with these efforts, it won't be an easy shift for many. Be patient. Do a little reading on the "change management curve," and support your team through it. Most importantly, don't waiver in your belief that a sales culture is a company imperative.
Lori Turner-Wilson can be reached at www.redrovercompany.com.