Build a Thriving Sales Culture

Companies need new revenue to survive the demands of business today. In most business-to-business sales environments an experienced, knowledgeable, professional sales team is critical to achieving such. Many times, there can be intense internal pressure to recruit and hire more salespeople quickly. However, if you hire too quickly and neglect to focus on building or maintaining a strong sales culture in which people can thrive you could risk future success.

Of course, we believe that the resourceful men and women across the Baillie Group, who form our Hardwood Lumber Trader team are “a breed apart.” They are a specialized group of individuals whom we count on to keep our pipeline filled and active. They have proved that they certainly do a great job! However, we also realize it’s up to us as an organization to continue to foster an environment in which each of their skills can flourish in the ever changing hardwood lumber industry.

Times change, markets move and circumstances vary, so over the years we have found it is really important to continue to invest in creating and developing a sales culture that allows the team to thrive.  In doing so, these best practices have worked well for us.

Hire carefully. As noted, there can be a strong urge to ramp up your hiring process and sort out things out later. But “settling for someone who is merely adequate but not the best fit can actually kill your sales culture,” notes business authority Megan Totka. It’s preferable to create a profile of an ideal salesperson for your product and target customer and hire accordingly.

Avoid micromanagement. A majority of hiring processes place an emphasis on skills and talent. It’s important not to micromanage the people you bring on—or risk diluting their sense of initiative. Encourage sales reps to devise their own systems for cultivating (and nourishing) sales leads, letting them know you’re more focused on results, rather than daily activity. Don’t look over their shoulders and try to avoid “sweating the small stuff.”

This is something we have found important when we bring a new Lumber Trader aboard. We place an emphasis not on the system for lead generation but rather on our team members building relationships and networking with people within the hardwood lumber industry. Whether that is a provider of excellent White Oak or Walnut lumber, or individuals on the manufacturing side in the cabinetry, flooring, millwork, or other industries. 

Make sales technology available. Sales automation enables reps and managers to closely monitor the status of any given prospect. Give your team sufficient access to technology so they can stay on top of customer relationships, actively respond to prospect inquiries, share knowledge with coworkers and needs, and minimize paperwork that only serves to slow the process.

Promote accountability and listen to feedback. While avoiding micromanagement, it’s essential to promote personal and team accountability, so that sales quotas don’t devolve into fuzzy areas like “suggested” sales targets. Your sales team must clearly understand your company’s expectations.

Encourage team members to offer feedback on their own performance. Do they feel they’re given sufficient sales training? Would they like more (or less) help with prospecting or closing deals? At regular intervals, ask if reps have questions or other needs that might be better met. They’ll appreciate the opportunity to get assistance and offer input into the sales process.

Include the whole organization. A thriving sales culture has to be more than a sales group effort. All the departments in your company have to understand the desire to be a sales centric culture. Everyone needs to support and nurture the initiative and prioritize the delivery of an enhanced customer experience to be successful long term.

A thriving sales culture not only benefits your business but can instill the entire organization with a stronger sense of purpose and meaning.

What ways have you found effective in building a thriving sales or company culture?

Tony C.
Baillie Group
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