One of my favourite B2B sales authors Andy Paul makes a strong case that today how you sell is more important than what you sell*. Amazon, salesforce.com and box are great examples of companies achieving massive success due to a great sales culture. They are winning because of how they sell and not what they sell. Yet many sales leaders are still focused on hiring based on sales ability over sales culture.
Just as recruiters look for cultural fit to ensure candidates have synergy with company culture — leading to better hires — sales leaders should also be actively promoting their sales culture for better alignment.
In a buyer-centric world, your buyer and how you sell to them has to be at the heart of your sales culture. But many sales teams don’t appreciate how far the sales landscape has shifted and continue to push traditional sales activities, resulting in disengaged buyers and frustrated reps.
Sales Cultures That Get It Right
Here are three virtues I have noticed in all great sales cultures. If you can add to this list please share your thoughts and experience below — let’s have a debate about what makes a great sales culture!
1#: Pick Up The Phone!
Last year I was walking through a client’s office and nearly picked up a phone that kept ringing. It had rung more than six times on a floor of a 100+ sales people, and not a single person cared enough to stop what they were doing to pick up the phone. It was very obvious to me what the culture of responsiveness was like.
When I was working at Rackspace, we had a rule. The phone can not ring more than twice. Yesterday while calling my bank First Direct I realised they operate on the same principle. As a buyer, there is nothing that builds trust than knowing you can always reach out.
Great sales cultures are responsive to their customers’ needs.
2#: Deliver Value In Exchange For Time
· Customer: “I only have 5 mins.”
· Salesperson (in their head): “OK, let’s see if we can use the time to deliver value.”
· Salesperson: “The last time we spoke you mentioned sales enablement is not a priority. We just did a study of how our customers are solving productivity challenges….what’s the one sales productivity issue we could help take off your plate allowing you to focus on the more important list you have.”
This value orientated question opened up a challenge the rep could help with. 45 mins later the conversation is still going, and the buyer said, “every time I speak to you guys I learn something new.….I would love for my team to see the product.”
The best sales teams are focused on delivering Value in exchange for time — it’s all about buyer engagement.
3#: We Don’t Have To Be Geeks To Geek Out
Since I started my career in sales, there has always been the stereotype of the unknowledgeable sales person. When I started BuyerDeck I remember talking to one of our customer’s prospects who continued to praise the buying experience and knowledge of Tom Scanlan, sales director at GoodData, then a sales representative she was working with.
“The best salespeople have the most interesting insights and knowledge about this space, I have been very impressed.” she said.
The Future of IT Sales researchers from the Gartner group found that customers that buy more than a 2:1 margin, would rather deal with technical specialists or an industry expert, than a salesperson.
Therefore great sales cultures need salespeople to become experts too. When someone truly understands the buyer, their organisation, their industry, challenges etc., and also has an in depth knowledge of the product they sell, they will also know how to sell.
What unites the above three points is that they all demonstrate the importance of building your sales culture around the buyer. Being responsive to your buyer’s needs, delivering value and taking the time to become an expert, so that you can tailor the buyer experience to each account.
What do you think?
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