Many businesses are emphasizing company and team culture more than ever. We know that building company culture that is positive and supportive creates harder working, longer-lasting, and happier employees.
When your team is happy and enjoys what they do, your customers and prospects will see it. And it can make a huge difference.
However, many new and established companies still don’t think about their culture much. Maybe they don’t know how to build one, or it’s just not a priority. But those who aren’t focusing on it will eventually be left behind.
If you are not mindful of it, intentional about it, and consistently communicate it, your employees will be less bought into the mission. They’ll feel less motivated to work hard and experience less remorse for moving to greener pastures.
Why Building Company Culture is So Important
What businesses don’t realize is company culture is there. It’s just not one that they cultivated and nurtured. So it may be a negative one built by the staff. The foundation of that workplace culture is how management treats and communicates with them.
If you don’t manage your garden, your flowers won’t bloom. And weeds are more likely to appear.
You probably think this is common sense, and essentially, it is. And yet, it happens all the time. We’ve all worked in companies filled with disgruntled and defeated employees. Do you think it’s a coincidence that all these Negative Nancies went to work in one place?
Nope, not likely.
- Lack of a solid mission and shared core values
- Little or no support from management
- Poor or unclear communication
All of these lead to the complete opposite of the positive and uplifting work environment you want to build.
Communication Drives Company Culture
Recently, we were talking to a team about a potential partnership. While discussing the project, the head of product kept making some version of this statement:
“We don’t want to be high pressure, but this thing sells itself. You should have no problem justifying the cost because it’s an easy sell. This tool simply works!”
This is the same thing that sales managers and leaders have been saying forever. I’ve heard it from coaches, consultants, founders, and managers galore. It’s one of the worst yet most common contributors to the negative stigma of sales. And it directly impacts the lack of a positive and supportive sales culture.
Let’s put ourselves into the shoes of a new salesperson hearing this from their manager.
They are hearing:
- This job is easy.
- The tool sells itself because it’s the best.
- You’re a failure if you can’t sell it to everybody.
When managers say this, they think they’re just getting people pumped up about selling. Instead, they’re actually encouraging a high-pressure, results-only sales culture that beats many salespeople into the ground.
A Strong Culture Leads to Less Turnover
If you’re rolling your eyes, consider that everybody’s different. Look at the turnover in sales. How many salespeople fail to hit quota or are constantly changing jobs? The answer is A LOT! According to a 2018 report, salespeople only stick with a company for 1.5 years before moving on. And the turnover rate in sales is significantly higher than in any other department or industry.
If you don’t think that is a big deal, you must not realize how expensive and time-consuming it is to replace a sales rep.
That’s why being intentional about fostering a better workplace culture is so important. The sooner you do, the sooner you can hire salespeople that will stay with you through thick and thin. And those that will follow the process and hit the goals you create together.
It all starts with how you communicate.
Yes, believing in what you sell is vital. But how you communicate that belief makes or breaks your team. In my opinion, that line starts and stops when you start making assumptions.
No single product is an easy sell to everyone.
Building a Company Culture That Supports Realistic Success
Most founders and owners can’t look at their ideas or creations without puppy love eyes. Since you’ve put your blood, sweat, and tears into this thing, it can be hard to detach yourself enough to see why people do not want it.
But this is one of the first steps in creating a repeatable sales process. If you can’t understand why someone might not see value in your tool or service, how prepared will you be when (not if!) those inevitable objections come up?
No one thing will be suitable for every person on earth, and assuming the sale (especially too soon) leads to a lack of trust. If you can prepare for those objections, you’ll be better positioned to close more deals. Establishing a strong culture that encourages and supports that idea is better than pushing salespeople to sell to everyone.
Even huge companies forget this…
At one point, we were considering Hubspot’s partner program. During a Zoom call with someone from their team, I asked them who wouldn’t be a good fit for Hubspot. This salesperson looked me dead in the eye and said, “Everyone should be using this tool.”
I was immediately confused and somewhat put out. This company puts out mountains of content about “target market” and “customer avatars.” Yet, this salesperson was on here telling me that every company on the planet should be using it.
That ruined any credibility he might have had up to that point.
When you think EVERYONE should use your product, it diminishes the recommendation for people who know better. Instead, you come across as a salesperson who just wants to make a sale, not one who cares about finding the best solution for the individual.
Encourage Salespeople to Ask Questions, Not Sell
There’s nothing wrong with believing in or loving the thing you sell, but it begins to get dangerous and annoying after a certain point. If you’re not careful, you become the grown version of the annoying kid who keeps asking, “why?” when somebody turns you down.
The prospect is the person who signs the contract, so if there is no value in their view, you are not getting the sale.
A time-saving solution doesn’t hold value to someone who thinks they are not wasting time.
The new and improved solution doesn’t hold value to someone pleased with the current solution.
In 2011, I was determined to sell fixed annuities for the bank I worked at. In my opinion, they were highly valuable and an absolute no-brainer. Without going into too much detail, the interest rate was significantly higher than most other savings accounts, although it locked up your money for longer. But the higher interest rate meant way more money, so I believed it was the best option for most people.
Needless to say, many of them didn’t agree. Most people didn’t see enough value in an increase from 2% to 4%, especially considering they couldn’t touch the money for 5-7 years. No matter how many graphs and numbers I showed them, they didn’t want to lock up their money for that long.
And I hadn’t learned enough about qualifying and intentional selling to ask them the right questions to determine what did hold value for them.
It was a struggle, and honestly, it’s still a struggle. But asking questions to determine what is important to your clients will get you much farther than forcing a solution they don’t believe they need.
Train Salespeople to Know the Product, Not Follow a Script
Every founder thinks their solution is the best, nothing new there. The idea that your tool is the best because “it just works” doesn’t help in sales conversations at all. If anything, it reduces the view of the salespeople’s efforts in the organization.
A tool that does what it’s supposed to do has no value, so the benefit statement of “it just works” doesn’t work.
Is this really how you want the sales team to respond to questions from prospects when they want to know how it works or why it works? Probably not.
When you were a kid and asked your parents for something, how happy were you with the answer “because I said so” when they said no?
It’s a non-answer—a platitude, nothing more.
When I was in the web agency, people would ask me if we worked in WordPress. I couldn’t wait to proudly say yes and give them all the talking points about its greatness. One of those talking points was that it was easier to use.
One understandably skeptical prospect asked me how it was easier, and I realized I had no idea. I had been parroting the same thing for so long without having any actual knowledge behind it.
Nobody expects you to know or be prepared for every possible question, but you should be able to showcase how and why you are different. Essentially, you should be able to support your claims of having a solution that works.
Furthermore, giving your salespeople all the knowledge they need to talk about your products increases employee engagement. They’ll be more bought into why it’s such a great product when they feel confident that they can discuss all aspects of what it is and how it works.
Building Company Culture Takes Time…
But it’s worth it!
The people you choose for your team represent you and your product. Salespeople, especially, are often the face of a company.
Don’t you want them to be able to build relationships, gain rapport and trust, and discuss your product with ease and confidence? Of course, you do. Well, their ability to do that starts with how you communicate those goals to them.
You want your team to love and believe in the product as much as you do, but telling them “it sells itself” isn’t helpful. It’s defeating. Prospects are more careful and vigilant than ever before, and no product or service sells itself. If it did, you wouldn’t need salespeople for it at all.
Building company culture that promotes positivity, hard work, and helpful intention may take time, but it can be done.
Put the focus on your sales team—their efforts, ability to follow the process and have great sales conversations, and desire to sell. Have them take personality assessments so that you can better communicate with them, and they can learn to better communicate with each other and their prospects.
Those two things will lead to a work environment that supports salespeople who stick around and hit their goals.