Cultivating a Sales Culture of Transparency
Building a sales culture of transparency and accountability is a new concept for most sales teams. In an environment filled with strong personalities, this can be a difficult thing to accomplish. You may have hired a group of sales managers and salespeople who hold their cards firmly close to the chest. They bring home the big deals at the end of the quarter and don’t expect to account for their activities in the interim.
While this can work for teams of a certain scale, growing your team beyond 8 to 10 salespeople requires an optimized approach that maintains visibility throughout the sales cycle. One way to establish this visibility is to build a strong sales culture of transparency within your company.
Four ways to do this are:
1. Top Down Transparency
Modern company culture is built upon a company’s core values and how these values are evangelized by the CEO. When senior management is transparent about their goals, a sales culture of transparency will follow naturally. Some ways to implement top-down transparency are to implement companywide OKRs that show the progress and goals of each department. In addition, creating a way for the CEO to regularly share daily activities with the company as a whole, as well as sharing the inputs and outputs of board meetings set the bar for a culture of transparency. If you can convince management to lead by example, your sales team will become more receptive to sharing their own progress and goals.
2. Recognize Team Success
Is everyone on the team aware of how much revenue your VP of Sales needs to bring in this quarter? Does each sales rep know how much they need to contribute to making this a reality? Shifting the conversation from rep-centric quota attainment to team success helps to open everyone’s eyes to what is happening in the room. You don’t need to make major changes to compensation plans. An additional bonus or the promise of a team trip at the end of the quarter is often enough. What you might find is that by publishing and highlighting the team goal, you as a leader implement and exemplify transparency. This is the first step in implementing these changes for your team.
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3. Set Targets for Activity, New Pipeline Generation and Revenue
Whatever data you have in CRM, share it with the team. Make sure everyone knows the number of marketing leads that you expect each month. Set targets for the number of meetings you expect your Sales Development team to set, as well as how many calls and emails they need to send to get them booked. Likewise, set targets for the amount of pipeline you want your sales team to create themselves, as well as the amount of revenue you expect them to close. Don’t be afraid to add in the number of meetings your CEO, or your VP of Sales, has with customers, or the number of new leads your Customer Success team has generated through referrals. By mandating accountability for everyone across the board, you lift the burden on your sales team and they won’t feel like they are the only ones who need to be transparent to the company.
4. Win and Lose Together
Celebrating together is easy. Accepting that a particular sales campaign or pitch isn’t working, or that a new pricing strategy is driving down your deal sizes, is harder to do collaboratively. Likewise, sitting down with your team and running an analysis on all of the deals that you lost last quarter can be demoralizing and painful. Don’t dwell on past failures, but do take the time to address them as a team. Run sessions where each salesperson presents a maximum of one to two deals that they lost and make sure to provide them with constructive insight on how they can improve moving forward. When you are making changes to pricing or messaging, explain why you’re doing it and the rationale for the new approach.
Takeaway – Building Sales Culture
Injecting transparency and accountability into the sales culture is one of the trickiest steps in building highly optimized sales teams. Changing set attitudes around the way your team does business may seem daunting at the get-go. However, the payoffs are huge when people begin to trust and work with each other. Through these four steps, you have the potential to turn a team of lone wolves, who win or lose on their own merits, into a strong, supportive pack that succeeds and fails together.
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