Are you ready for sales growth through top performing sales talent? If so, it’s a good idea to examine your company culture. If you’re looking for someone who will take the bull by the horns and work till the goals are accomplished, your company culture will play a role in attracting this type of salesperson. This blog is about understanding culture so you can assess if your company is ready for this type of fire power.
Let’s begin by defining culture. Preston Pond, Organization Design consultant and author of many 360 Solutions programs defines culture as, “The set of shared attitudes, practices, and beliefs of members within the organization.” It is what we do, the attitudes behind and the belief driving our attitudes and actions.
So why is it important to understand culture when looking to find stronger talent? How we carry out sales strategies and plans eventually comes down to everyday attitudes and practices. If your new plan to bring in stronger sales talent works against these attitudes and practices it will become very difficult to realize the results intended. Understanding your current culture will make it significantly easier to build on the strengths you possess or identify weaknesses that will hinder progress. To understand your organization’s culture, observe and assess your collective everyday attitudes and practices around your work, management, customers, and fellow employees. Then examine the core beliefs driving these practices. It is important to first look at your attitudes and practices before examining your beliefs. By doing it this way you can ask yourself what beliefs do we have that drive the attitudes and practices. If you begin with beliefs before examining attitudes and practices, it is easy to deny beliefs that are weakening and instead profess what you want your belief to be.
I worked for two companies that had very different cultures. Both were in the cellular industry. Look at the two examples of attitudes and practices and then we will examine what their beliefs might be.
Company A – Attitudes and practices
- The owner was hands off and allowed General Managers autonomy
- Management had high expectations, were friendly, fun and helpful
- We had open communication between employees and customers at all levels
- Employees were given resources and authority to take responsibility for accomplishing their work
- The quality of product and customer service were #1 priority
- There was genuine collaboration between departments
Company B – Attitudes and practices
- Owner was hands on and would bypass his management when he felt discipline was needed
- Senior managers made decisions to keep owner happy (yes men)
- Information sharing was not consistent and expressly withheld at times due to lack of trust
- Policies were set with threats
- Employees communicated what they thought management wanted to hear vs. what was true
- There was difficulty between many departments
After examining these two companies it is easy to see two different cultures. By taking a closer look we can identify what core beliefs might be driving the two different cultures.
Company A – Beliefs
Company A’s core beliefs are that employees are very capable and worthy of trust and empowerment. They believe that the customer comes first and believe they should deliver the best quality product possible.
Company B – Beliefs
Company B has core beliefs that employees cannot be trusted and to get what you want you need to control people.
If Company B wants to hire a top performing salesperson things might not work out. Top sales people are used to being trusted and allowed to work independently. The company could lure the sales person in with talk of empowerment and trust, but if their beliefs don’t change they will soon begin controlling the salesperson. Control is not what this sales rep signed up for. As a matter of fact, Company B verbalized many times that management trusted and appreciated the employees but the attitudes and practices that were demonstrated did not support the claim. This is why it is important to examine attitudes and practices first, and then relate them to the beliefs that drive them. The proof is in the actions.
Company B was not aware of their beliefs that affected their actions. If they took the time to become aware of their beliefs, they then have a fighting chance in changing them in a way that would support their desire for a top salesperson. Company A was aware of their beliefs and continued to build on their strength.
Both companies were acquired by a larger organization over time. The principles and senior management teams did not stay with the new ownership. They took their cultures with them and started two new companies. Company A built a thriving cellular business that maintained its productive culture, grew to over 250 employees and ultimately sold to AT&T. Company B built a wireless internet and web business that peaked at 40 employees.
When we view culture as our beliefs, attitudes and practices we can see that culture impacts every aspect of a business. Your challenge when deciding to hire stronger talent is to understand if your company culture will support or detract from a top salesperson’s potential. By adopting the beliefs of Company A you will have your best chance at building and growing your business through others.