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By: Liz Heiman
Categories: lead generation, Sales Coaching, Sales leadership, sales relationships, Setting Goals

Did you ever wonder why values are part of a strategy or strategic plan? It’s interesting how some people get really excited about mission, vision, and values, while others like to focus on goals and actions. I get it. Goals and actions feel like getting down to business, and vision and values feel like fluff to some people. There is a reason we do both. Your vision, values, and mission are the foundation for the goals. If you aren’t clear where you are going (vision), how (values) and why (mission), it’s difficult to get there. Our goals tell us what needs to be done to get to our destination, but our values tell us how we are going to do the things we need to do.

What you value and how you state it matters @LizRHeiman Click To Tweet

Values shape our culture which inspires our actions. Is there a difference between valuing technology VS innovation? Is it the same to value systems and security? Can you value both speed and perfection? What you value and how you state it matters. It matters because it frames the way people perform and what they prioritize.

If you look at company values, you tend to see similar kinds of things. Companies value integrity, respect, excellence, responsibility, teamwork, innovation, passion, leadership etc. These are all really good values. It is nice to work in a company where people are honest and innovative and respect each other. But, we need to think about values that drive the results we want. How do we select and define the values that will shape the company culture we need and want to get the outcomes we are looking for.

Building a Sales Culture

The only way to have a culture that supports and drives sales is to make a concerted effort to espouse the values and hire people who will support that culture.

Are you wondering what I mean by a sales culture? Maybe the easiest way to understand it is to think about what isn’t a sales culture. Well, a company might have a customer service culture, an innovation culture, or a product-centric culture. What we want to create is a culture that brings sales into the core of your company rather than leaving it on an island or in the periphery. What that really means is making the customer the focus of your business so that sales, service, development, and delivery are all about what the customer needs rather than what you want to produce. The sales team then becomes the engine that drives the company. They communicate with customers and give feedback to the organization about what they need and want. They make sales so we have the revenue to develop new products, to package and deliver.

To have a sales culture, everyone in your company must understand that they play a role in the sales process, and what that role is @LizRHeiman Click To Tweet

To have a sales culture, everyone in your company must understand that they play a role in the sales process, and what that role is. Sales reps need to be considered part of the corporate team. Sales need to be seen as the engine that drives the company and allows the rest of us to do what we do best. We need to understand that we help sales by keeping customers satisfied and jump in to support the sales team when customers are unhappy.

Here are some of the values that help to create a positive sales culture:

  • Satisfied customers are the #1 priority
  • Relationships matter
  • Everyone is part of the team
  • Setting goals and reaching them is a team responsibility
  • Love what you do

Satisfied customers are the #1 priority

Selling is always easier when the customers you have are happy. When planning revenue, a certain amount is dependent on recurring revenue or repeat sales to existing customers. If customers are unhappy, they will not renew or buy something new. The most discouraging part is that it is easier, faster and less expensive to sell to existing customers than to find new customers. As Alice says, “There is no point bringing in clients through the front door if you’re losing them even faster out the back door.”

“There is no point bringing in clients through the front door if you’re losing them even faster out the back door.” Click To Tweet

We also know that business we get from referrals is more likely to close faster, buy more and stay longer than customers that come through another channel. Salespeople count on referrals to bring in sales. If our customers are unhappy, they will not refer us. It is always harder and more expensive to start over than to tend the garden you have.

Relationships matter

Everyone who is customer facing an organization impacts the overall relationship we have with a customer. Salespeople count on the relationships they develop to close sales, get additional sales and get referrals. Every customer-facing person in the organization, whether in customer success, accounting, inside sales, shipping or product development has the ability to grow or undermine a relationship the salespeople have worked hard to build.

If there is a problem with a customer, whether they haven’t paid, they aren’t responding, or they always have a problem, we need to understand the underlying cause and help resolve it. One surprising thing we have discovered is that often, a customer who has had a problem that gets solved to their satisfaction is more loyal than customers who never had a problem.

NOTE: It is never OK to talk negatively about our clients. If there is a problem or repeating problem that we can’t solve, get help. If even senior people in the organization can’t solve the problem, then it is time to part ways amicably. Chances are that the customer was never a good fit for your solution, which is not their fault and they have every right to be upset or frustrated.

Everyone is part of the team

I can’t tell you how often I hear people talk negatively about people from different departments. Throwing people under the bus is never a good idea. If salespeople are not filling out forms or keeping the CRM up to date, then someone needs to understand why. I just spent time working with a client on a CRM that was so complex and out of line with what they were doing that no one could use it effectively. Find out what’s wrong and work together to solve it, don’t blame.

It is common for sales to get frustrated with product development or onboarding because sales reps are the ones left holding the bag when they sell something that doesn’t work or can’t be delivered in a timely manner. Meanwhile, production and onboarding are frustrated because sales is out selling what can’t be delivered. Keep sales in the loop on development status. Keep production and onboarding in the loop around expected sales so they are staffed appropriately to deliver.

When we talk about building a sales culture, it helps if people understand what others do and how their behaviors and decisions impact each other’s ability to be successful. Have someone from accounting shadow a salesperson for a week. Traveling and going to dinner with clients may sound like fun until you actually have to do it. Have sales see what happens when they don’t fill out an order form properly. Have Marketing sit with sales reps trying to sell to the leads they acquired. Have ops on the phone with sales when clients are complaining. Have sales work with ops or product development to understand why changes are being made. Create a team that values the work the others do and supports each other’s success.

Setting goals and hitting them is a team responsibility

Finger pointing when goals aren’t hit is never effective. I have heard every reason imaginable for why sales goals weren’t hit. I almost never hear a whole team say, “How can we work together to hit our goals next quarter?” 

Hitting sales goals requires an effort from everyone. First, when senior management establishes goals, they need to meet with all of the departments to be sure that the company can support those goals. If marketing is responsible for filling the top of the funnel, they need to be clear what they need to do to deliver the right kinds of leads, so sales can move them through the funnel effectively. Sales need to have enough resources and appropriate skills to follow-up on the leads that come in. If sales hit their goals, can onboarding, production, and shipping deliver on what was sold? It takes a team. Everyone needs to play their part. If the funnel isn’t full, then sales is either prospecting or chasing leads that aren’t a great fit. If sales isn’t following up on leads, they won’t hit their goals. If the company can’t deliver, sales spend time putting out fires instead of selling. If we see ourselves as a team, we hit goals. If we see ourselves as islands, we point fingers instead of helping to hit goals. 

Love what you do

When we love what we do and the company we work for, it is really easy to be a positive part of the sales culture. If we are happy, we love making our customers happy. If we love what we do, we want to see other people making the best of what we do. If we love what we do, we want to help others be successful. If we all love what we do, we love the team we work with. Teams that love what they do, love their customers and naturally create a sales culture. 


Do you need help creating a winning a sales culture? I’d love to help! Follow this link to schedule virtual coffee with me and we can chat.

Liz Heiman
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Liz Heiman

Sales leadership coach at Alice Heiman LLC
A strategic thinker, sales strategist, Japanist, and Rotarian, Liz is a coach, trainer, and prolific speaker on the topics of sales and sales leadership. Liz loves sales, and enjoys working with sales leaders to create strategies and processes that make sense AND bring in results.
Liz Heiman
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