As a sales coach, I travel the country meeting with executives, business development managers, sales directors and others in charge of growing companies.
If they’ve called me in, chances are they’re dissatisfied with a team’s current performance. And one common misdiagnosis I hear is, “I just need that one good salesperson.”
How many times have you thought this yourself?
At some point in our careers, we probably all have. But it’s fairy-tale thinking. Salespeople are not magic wands, and one single salesperson is unlikely to turn your division or company around. Consider that plenty of hall-of-fame athletes—people we would describe as “one good football player” or “one good baseball player”—failed to win championships.
Sustainable growth never comes from just one person. It comes from developing an effective sales culture.
I know culture is a buzzword. What is culture anyway? Most of us can’t really describe what it is but we all want a good one. At the end of the day, though, culture is the sum of our behaviors.
Here are four behaviors—four actions you can take right now—to help your team build an effective sales culture.
Define What Success Looks Like
If you’re looking out for number one, get used to finishing last.
The most successful salespeople prioritize the accomplishments of their clients over their own accomplishments. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have personal goals and targets. But sales is more about consulting, coaching and cooperating than it is about closing deals. You are going to meet or exceed your own personal goals a lot faster if your focus is on putting the needs of others first.
The more you help your clients solve their problems, the more inclined they are to buy your product or services. It’s common sense, really. But all too often, common sense goes out the window when selfishness and greed cloud our thinking.
From our fingerprints to our perspectives on life, every human being is unique.
Too many of us, though, seem to forget our sense of identity, conforming in our careers to an industry standard for what a salesperson should be. When we look, act and sound like every other salesperson, we create ourselves into a commodity.
Commodities are products that are essentially the same among all vendors. The only difference is the price. The fastest way to fall into the commodity trap is by seeming too “salesy,” by talking about ourselves and our products too quickly in the sales process.
In an effective sales culture, you must stand out from the crowd. Be remembered.
There is no single process to avoiding the commoditization trap. Each of your experiences will differ, but they share these key points in common: You must find a way to convey your personal value to the customer and you must find a way to convey your company’s value to the customer.
Know your value
You must know what makes you different from everyone else and emphasize that in your career and in your business relationships.
Our differences are what make each of us valuable. To use what is probably a dated sports metaphor: Phil Niekro wasn’t valuable because he was a good baseball player. (There were plenty of those at the time). He was valuable because he knew how to throw a knuckleball.
What’s your knuckleball?
To find out, you need to do some soul searching. Think about the personal experiences, beliefs and life lessons that guide you. Think about how these elements of your life relate to your clients and how you are better able to do business with them.
Know your company’s value
You aren’t just a salesperson, you are an extension of your company. Therefore, you have to know your company’s value, too, and be able to demonstrate that value when you interact with clients and prospects.
Your company’s value isn’t in your earnings or profits. After all, clients don’t care about your company’s success. They care about how you can help their company succeed. That’s where your value is, in how your company has helped others. (Sound familiar?).
Therefore, the best way to express your company’s value is through the power of storytelling. Learn what your most valued customers say about you and then share those stories back with others.
Humans are hardwired to relate to stories and the experiences of other humans. It builds trust way faster than just repeated tired explanations of your products features and benefits.
There are no shortcuts
These concepts are easy to understand, but there are no shortcuts. Each of the four steps takes patience.
But I can guarantee they are much more effective than daydreaming about growth while you wait for that one good salesperson to materialize.
Commit today to changing your culture instead of your roster.