SUSTAINABLE GROWTH MODEL
Most of us believe our “culture” has an impact on many agency dynamics. The people, attitudes, values and norms comprise our agency culture. A sometimes intangible and often misunderstood dimension of agency growth, our sales culture is one of the largest factors influencing productivity and results. Some crucial elements we believe paramount are:
A simple solution to create a powerful sales culture is to build it with hungry sales people with highly effective sales skills. We believe authentic sales talent finds a way to achieve great results, if for no other reason, to realize their own expectations for success. Far too often we see many sales forces comprised of people that are not hungry to grow or they lack the necessary sales skills to grow at a high level, even though they may be strong technically.
Setting Expectations with Well-Defined Goals
Each member of your sales team needs a clear path to achieve expectations and creating structure allows employees to execute and trust your leadership. Setting milestones and communicating them across the team goes a long way. Individually goals and expectations should be set around the right behaviors (lead indicators) that drive growth, not just the end result (lag indicators i.e. revenue).
“What Gets Measured Gets Done.” To be successful, you have to know what success actually means to you. This requires measurement, of course. But more than that, you need to look beyond the numbers; it’s not enough to know what results happened, but why they happened. We believe monitoring the right sales behaviors and gathering valuable insights from data analysis is key. Keep an eye on results and pinpoint areas for coaching opportunities to optimize activities. It’s not just about the bottom line revenue number, but measuring the steps along the way that get us there.
Regular one-on-ones to provide feedback on how an individual is performing against expectations is a necessary part of creating a powerful sales culture. The compound effect of regular feedback sessions provides accountability and identifies opportunities for coaching.
Deliver Quality Training
Truly great people also have an interest in continuously improving and becoming the best. By providing quality training, you motivate great people to come and stay with your sales team. You also create a consistent pipeline of talent and ensure quality sales results across the board.
It has been consistently shown that repetitive interactions inspire success. Facilitate a culture of collaboration and allow your sales organization to benefit from a well defined, strategic sales process. This allows your entire operation to “sing from the same hymnal”. The right process will put your sales people in a position of strength and your prospects will follow because it makes sense for them.
Constant Improvement Through Coaching
Agencies with the best sales cultures tend not to rest on their past successes. A key asset in this regard is regular sales coaching. Studying sales performance metrics to identify specific areas of weakness in the sales process of their entire team or an individual rep should be a high priority. A commitment to coaching should foster a sense of personal and professional development that “accountability models” cannot provide. Coaching cultures create highly accountable people without the toxic environment that “accountability cultures” embody; that rely solely on accountability to produce results. Beyond sales talent, a coaching model, may be the best source for creating a highly effective sales culture.
Provide Recognition & Celebrate Wins
This is the easiest one on the list. Recognize achievement and effort on all levels. Praise character, mentorship and external metrics of success publicly and keep morale high. Put your winners in the limelight so that others will strive to be like them. Put contests together and be intentional about spiffs. Celebrate as a team when things go well. Get out of the office a few evenings each month to help the team bond.
Adaptability & Flexibility
The status quo can be toxic to a sales culture. Discourage stubborn thinking or that cringe-worthy explanation: “Because that’s how it’s always been done.” Stagnation can be a culture-killer. Change is inevitable: your mission is to foster an environment that thrives during the inevitable periods of change to develop team members who are easily flexible. Great salespeople are able to take a look at data, analyze it, and react quickly.
Transparency Across All Levels
“The rising tide lifts all boats”. High performance sales organizations have nothing to hide. They are proud of their accomplishments at all levels across all departments and will publicly and transparently display their inner workings, even if the performance has a lower trajectory at times-it’s only temporary right? Infusing a sales dashboard that displays the monthly bookings of all your reps is a good start toward creating this type of transparency. Watching many prospects traverse through each phase of your sales process can be transformative to your culture.
Moving People Out
There are way too many producers inside of agencies all across the country that are either unwilling or unable to perform the duties of a highly effective producer. A common sales culture-killer is having people who have no business being in your sales meetings and apart of your overall growth initiative. Moving people out can encompass a broad range of strategies depending on the individual success (or lack of) and the overall contribution any one person has made to your firm’s success.
Sales Effectiveness is the ability of an organization or individual to acquire new business at their desired rate with ideal clients. Highly effective sales teams relentlessly pursue improving their sales skills and are highly motivated to improve their performance in all the Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) that yield the best results. Highly effective sales people show the ability to:
Build trust and lower buyer’s resistance quickly
Get real decision makers open and honest about their current situation (the holy grail)
Educate prospects on what is possible when prospects commonly “don’t know what they don’t know”
Differentiate at the results/outcomes layer instead of generalities/capabilities
Create high value by aligning agency tools, resources and capabilities with a buyer’s desired outcomes
Engage a prospect in an “advisory” process that is client-facing, transparent and creates value for the prospect even before a proposal is delivered
Contrast the standard industry model with your agency’s model to produce a better result
Leverage innovative packaging techniques in the proposal phase, making it difficult to transition your solutions to incumbent providers or other competitors
Take advantage of the compound effect of daily habits that lead to results in the top 5% of sales performers
Use sales metrics to gain a competitive advantage and reach their full potential
Execution speaks to results and it is viewed by Blueprint as the central unlocking move for most growth agencies. It includes the prioritization of goals and allocation of limited resources ("trade-offs"), adherence to sales disciplines, planning and sales management, acknowledging the importance of personal productivity, and fostering a culture that values making and keeping commitments. The necessary components are:
A clear vision for the future
Roadblocks are identified
Strategies are outlined to overcome any roadblocks
Tools and resources are allocated
Timelines and Habits are implemented
Regular progress reviews for course correction until desired result is achieved