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How to Create a Powerful Sales Culture
What is your role?
Posted Jul 22, 2011
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How can your organization sell more and sell smarter? By creating a powerful sales culture - an environment that inspires and engages everyone in the organization to become part of the virtual sales team and support the business development efforts.

What Is Sales Culture?

It's the concept that everyone in an organization is in sales, including CEOs, accountants, lawyers, administrative assistants, as well as sales team members. Organizations with a sales culture are full of selling professionals, people who embrace the concept that they have a role in sales, whether they are directly or indirectly involved with the actual transaction. Companies with a sales culture have discovered that by mobilizing and harnessing the power of the entire organization they can effectively boost overall revenues, profitability, and growth.

Sales Professional Versus Sales Reps

There are two basic types of team roles in a sales organization: representatives and professionals. We're not necessarily talking about two different people, though. Depending upon what role an individual is playing in the sales process at any particular time, that person could be using the skills of a rep or a professional. In fact, it's important for everyone in an organization to be aware of these roles and when and why they need to exhibit behavior of a rep versus a professional. Nurturing both sets of skills across the entire organization is what builds a truly powerful sales culture.

Both of these basic roles share the same basic set of skills needed to be successful. These skills include the ability to:

  • Represent a company's products and services to potential clients and prospects
  • Develop expertise in an industry niche
  • Know the value proposition and competition cold
  • Know when to leverage other people to help bring a deal to closure
  • Handle objections
  • Do a great job at qualifying prospects
  • Know when to ask for the business to close the deal.

So then, what differentiates a professional from a representative? Representatives are primarily focused on the present, their individual roles, and the here and now of a specific sale. They become fully engaged in providing product information to each customer with their primary goal set at getting a contract signed. A good rep is very effective in this type of situation.

On the other hand, while professionals also need to encompass the roles of a rep, they exhibit an important, additional set of skills. Professionals must take a step beyond their individual roles and the immediate sale to also consider the bigger picture. They are constantly aware of the overall sales campaign and the virtual team of supporters that contributes expertise to the close of each sale. They do a great job of developing high "Relationship Portability"? - building strong, long-term business relationships that extend beyond their current day-to-day obligations.

Sales Professionals: The Key to Building a Strong Sales Culture

Although professionals may at times also need to focus on the daily details of their jobs and closing business, they continually create a culture that engages all relevant players in the selling process. When dealing directly with a customer, they can operate as a rep - doing great discovery and managing their target list. Yet they never lose sight of the importance of creating a system that brings everyone's best efforts to the forefront of the sales campaign. Professionals are the primary players in an organization who "rally the troops" to build a strong overall sales culture, which ultimately drives more sales.

As you look at your own organization, does everyone understand when and how to perform like a professional versus a rep?


Todd Cohen is principal of SalesLeader LLC, a strategic oversight for sales teams ranging from small, rapidly growing start-ups to well-established, large corporations.

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