In a post at HubSpot, Jim McDonough, VP of sales at Attend.com, correctly identified 6 elements of a high performing, modern sales culture. As he noted, the elements of a 21st century sales force are:
- It has to be data driven: Going on your gut is no real strategy.
- It must have transparency: In order to be data driven, data needs to transparent.
- Everyone on it has to have accountability: Teams collectively celebrate their wins and understand their losses.
- It should be competitive: Healthy competition is essential to building energy and growing.
- It can’t stop practicing: Training is an ongoing process, not an onboarding process.
- It must stay agile: In the words of Andy Grove, “Success breeds complacency, complacency breeds failure, only the paranoid survive.”
The elements he identifies are all extraordinarily relevant and he elaborates on them very well.
I would humbly add one to the list. And I’d place it at the top.
A high performing, modern sales culture has to incorporate core values that leadership is willing to hire and fire by.
Defining core values gives leadership the opportunity to communicate the expectations of the sales team. If leadership expects the sales team to never stop practicing, remain agile, and promote a healthy degree of competition, they should incorporate those expectations into the foundation of the sales environment.
Core values are the foundation of a sales environment and they’re important for both leadership and the sales team.
Defining core values forces leadership to clearly define the behaviors that contribute to developing the most productive culture. It is a necessary exercise for leadership to go through and it removes ambiguity for the sales team by providing clarity of what is expected. If the expectations are more than just high sales performance, as it should be, it’s necessary for leadership to clarify what those expectations are.
Defining core values also provides clarity for leadership while recruiting. The person responsible for hiring is more likely to hire candidates that can meet all the expectations if those behaviors are clearly articulated up front. The interview process should be developed around finding the candidates that meet all the expectations.
Of course, developing core values is meaningless if leadership fails to hold everyone accountable to both the tangible (sales performance) and intangible (core values) expectations equally. This includes scenarios where sales performance is high and productive behaviors to the culture are low.
The core values are a foundation for all the behaviors that make up a team. They aren’t buzzwords. As Brent Daily, founder of RoundPegg, recently said in a Twitter chat, “People see through buzzword bullshit.” That pretty much sums it up and differentiates those who walk the walk, building world-class sales teams, from those who wonder why they’re still addressing the poison-like, prima donna behavior on their so-called teams.