In today’s marketplace a great product or service alone isn’t enough. Success requires managers to cultivate a sustainable, strong, and vibrant sales team. Over 20 years of experience has taught me that the top three factors influencing the development of a positive, amicable and respectful culture found in a successful sales team include:
- Mutual trust
- Clear expectations
- Managerial support
It is a manager’s responsibility to observe the team’s behaviours, communication, and mindset. Does something need to change? Ask your team for input and make a list. The amount of feedback you receive may depend on how everyone is feeling: if you elicit little feedback, this may be a sign that things are starting to deteriorate, or are already off the rails. You may need to consider a survey that provides anonymous feedback.
Creating a positive culture begins and ends with trust. It is the foundation of strong relationships and successful businesses. Trust is earned by doing what you say you’re going to do. We have all seen examples of CEOs called out for the “do as I say, not as I do” approach.
I once worked for an organization that was acquired by a larger company and was given the opportunity to move into the new sales team. As part of the process, I met with my sales manager and the new VP Sales. At the end of the interview I had only one question, “Is my manager coming too?” The answer was yes. That was enough for me. I was willing to power ahead, knowing that he would have my back as we started on the new journey.
Clear expectations are our road map. We need to understand what is expected if we are to perform at our best. Create goals together, with incremental ones to stay on track toward big goals. Measure and evaluate outcomes and course correct together when needed. Celebrate when a goal is achieved.
Coach for Success
Let your team know that you’ll be implementing one-on-one coaching with each member of the team as an additional level of support. Start by asking how they are doing and what are they feeling good about. Do not start discussing sales numbers unless they do. This is about the person, not the position. Coaching is the forum where you get to know them on a deeper level.
If the culture of your team could be enhanced, be honest with yourself about what needs to change. Be willing to accept feedback. It will be worth it.