6 Things You Can Do to Create a Better Sales Culture
It’s going to take a lot more than just a great product and a pretty website take your startup to the next level.
Sure, those things are great if you want to run a decent, small-scale company. But, if you want to become a dominant force in your industry, you’re going to need sales.
…lots of sales.
If you know me, you know that I’m an advocate for founders to sell as long as they can. But eventually, you’re going to have to hire a sales team.
Now, the words “sales team” doesn’t always bring the best thoughts to mind. For many people, it conjures up Wolf of Wall Street-esque images in which a bunch of drunk dudes are huddled around a ping-pong table screaming at each other.
…and that’s definitely one type of sales team.
However, it doesn’t have to be like that. In fact, I’d recommend that you don’t build a sales team like that (too much money wasted on booze and broken ping-pong paddles).
Instead, you should build your team around experience, skills, and values. It’s going to be a lot more beneficial for the future of your company.
Check out these tips on building the perfect sales culture.
Identify Your Sales Process
Every company has a different sales process. For some companies, every deal involves a software demo their customer’s IT manager. For others, each deal involves a meeting with the CEO.
Once you’ve sold to 4 or 5 companies, you’ll start to notice these patterns emerge. You should take note of these patterns and map them out on a whiteboard.
Ultimately, this will inform your hiring decisions later on. If each sale requires a meeting with the CTO, you’re going to want to hire someone who is familiar with technology and can speak that language.
Understand Your Buyer’s Process
In order to figure out your own sales process, you often have to figure out your buyer’s process first. Even though you have a protocol for selling things, they also have a format for buying things.
Obviously, their process is much more important.
So, you should identify the patterns in their buying process and use it to map out your own. Again, you’ll want to identify the key figures/job titles in each deal (VPs, C-level figures, lawyers?) and look for candidates who have experience selling to those types of people.
Only Hire the Best-Fitting Candidates
It’s easy to get tempted into hiring someone because you like them. But, just because your cousin is unemployed (and a generally good guy), doesn’t mean he’s the right fit for the job.
Even if he has some experience selling cell phone cases, it doesn’t mean that he’s equipped to sell $10,000 software to the VP of a large software company.
Once you have your sales process and your buyer’s process mapped out, you should look for people who can work within those models. Whether they have experience working with a similar sales process, or selling to similar companies, they’ll help you to create a strong sales culture.
Don’t Build the Culture Around Competition
There are folks that will tell you the best way to hire a sales team is to hire two people and fire the one that doesn’t work out.
Don’t do that.
All it does is create a really weird, competitive environment where your salespeople are worried about their job. They won’t be focused on selling. It doesn’t help anyone.
If you hire smart people who understand the industry, have sold to clients like yours, and have similar values to you and your team, you’ll be fine.
You can continue to experiment with sales process for as long as you need to, but canning the person with the lowest numbers is just going to create a really anxious working environment.
Set the Example for Your Team
As the founder, you have to be the example of what you want to see.
If you don’t assholes on your team, then don’t be an asshole. When you start raising your voice on calls, then you can bet that some of your salespeople are going to be shouting at customers, too.
Founders create the culture. So, act however you want your salespeople to act and do things that you want your salespeople to do.
Do Sales Yourself for as Long as You Can Manage
If you read my blogs regularly, you’re aware that I’m a huge advocate of founders learning to sell. Unless you sell the product yourself, you won’t have a good grasp on the sales process, the buyer’s process.
And you won’t know how to choose the right candidate, either.
It helps for salespeople to learn from the founder when (and why) to do things like giving free trials, and what happens when a trial customer converts to a subscriber.
It also helps them to see firsthand the type of contracts that are worth going after and how those contracts are pursued.
Eventually, you’ll probably have to step aside and leave the work to your team. Until that’s absolutely necessary, however, you should stick it out and keep pounding the pavement alongside them.
In the end, this will do wonders in helping you to build a good, productive sales culture within your company.