First of all, it’s not about sales at all.
It’s not about selling, it’s about buying. A high-performance sales culture is extremely adept and successful at convincing people to buy; it’s not focussed on creating the behaviors necessary to push (sell) products at people.
The problem I have with most sales organizations is that they are infatuated with instilling sales 101 principles on every salesperson which basically means being better at pitching the proposal and closing the sale.
How to cold call; how to make an effective sales presentation; how to gain the client’s trust; how to build a lucrative sales funnel; how to get to the C-suite and how to close the sale are all subjects that command the attention of most sales training programs.
The problem with the traditional sales approach — hence the culture it produces — is that it’s extremely one-sided. It demands the salesperson push the organization’s wares at the customer to try and force them to buy (in fact the “closer” gets their gunslinging reputation from beating the client into submission); it remains woefully inadequate in recognizing the needs, wants and desires of the customer and as such creates no long term growth opportunities for the organization.
The fact is that amazing, one-of-a-kind sales cultures that consistently produce unmatched results are based on (here it comes; I know you’ve heard this many times before)… RELATIONSHIPS.
High-performance sales cultures are mindless about generating the behaviors in salespeople that enhance the relationship between the customer and the business. And at its very core, these successful cultures believe that it’s the relationship — not the product or service — that spawns not only a single sale, but many sales over and over and over again.
Here’s what a salesperson in a high-performance sales culture looks like:
Salespeople in this world really care about humans; I truly believe that they are borne with the caring gene. They are hired because of this attribute and leadership then trains them on whatever else they don’t innately understand to do the sales thing.
In this culture, the first question asked of a potential candidate is “Do you love people? Tell me a story about yourself that proves it.”
They have an obsession over the little things. It’s an empirical fact that it’s not the big things that destroy relationships, but rather the lack of attention over time that eventually drags the trust ledger down to zero.
For example, it’s one thing for the technology to have a glitch and be unavailable for a period of time, but it’s quite another thing for a salesperson to overlook a detail in the sales proposal, not return calls promptly or forget an appointment.
The former “happen” because of the vagaries of technology; the latter happens because another human forgets to pay attention and honor their obligations. One can be understood; the other can not be forgotten.
Mission to astonish
They always try to “astonish” another person; to WOW! them. They understand that it’s not good enough to merely satisfy someone, they need to blow them away in some way that’s meaningful.
Salespeople here are discoverers of fashion; they seek to understand at a deep level what would amaze their client and they provide it time and time again.
Astonishing is actually a key strategic concept in a high-performance sales culture because it explains why clients are loyal to an organization and keep buying from them. As an aside, salespeople in these cultures try and astonish each other with the belief that if they can do it with a colleague, it’ll be a piece of cake with a client!
They know how to turn anger into a hug. They learn to be artists of recovery: how to successfully dig out when the customer (or sales colleague) has been screwed over.
Why is this so important? Because people remember what you did to remedy the mistake as the memory of the mistake fades for them.
Relationships aren’t built on perfection and never having an OUCH come between partners, but they ARE build on what is done when things go awry — it shows how important the connection between two people is.
Innovate not copy
They thrive on innovation for their clients because relationships require constant renewal.
High-performance sales cultures are not fans of copying or benchmarking others and applying what others do to their own client’s situation; in fact, the whole copycat notion is a turn off.
They recognize that innovating for a client recognizes them as special in some way and deepens their relationship. And at the same time pushing the innovation button constantly separates their organization from everyone else who is on the lookout for a best practice to copy and who remain part of the common competitive herd as a result.
These cultures have a “try” work ethic and get that successful results are rarely achieved if trying and failure don’t regularly occur.
They chase imperfection because the journey to find the perfect anything is a very long one if it ever ends at all.
Clients are “unreasonable” as we all know and they expect results NOW, and that demands not only innovation, it also demands workable solutions that can be delivered quickly.
The best solution to anything is the one that minimizes the degrees of imperfection inherent in it, so high performance literally means being the organization that is able to generate more imperfect creative solutions than anyone else in the market.
The ONLY one
Individuals in this culture strive to be one-of-a-kind salespeople who are special and distinct from other salespeople in a way that is meaningful and compelling to their clients.
They seek to be the ONLY ones that do what they do. This is critical to relationships because if the salesperson is delivering something essential to the client in a way that no one else does, the client is surprised, delighted and…. the bond strengthens.
High-performance sales cultures pay attention to the details that make people want to hang out together.
Build your culture on these principles and I guarantee you will be hanging out with the clients you want for a long time.
Oh, and by the way, sales quotas will be easy to achieve.