Category Archives: John Waid

Sales Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

By John Waid

How to Create a Sales Culture for Increased Profits, Faster Revenue Growth, and Better Salesforce Retention

John Waid-sales cultureDon’t you wish your salesforce sold twice as much as your competitors, your business was extremely profitable and your salespeople and customers loved you? Is this even possible? Chik-fil-A produces twice as much revenue as any other fast food chain and they are closed on Sundays. An investment in Southwest Airlines in the early 1970’s of $10,000 dollars was worth close to 12 million dollars in 2000—the highest return of almost any company in a thirty year period—and it’s a low cost airline in a very competitive industry. Zappos shoes went from start-up to being bought by Amazon in ten years for more than 1 billion dollars. These companies all have one at least one thing in common.

When sales managers are asked what makes for a great salesforce they’ll often cite characteristics like great products and services, excellent strategies, sound processes and systems, and being in the right place at the right time. Although these elements are important, there is one secret that the really successful sales leaders have.

When the founder of Chik-fil-A was asked why they were so successful, he mentioned that the company’s success comes from its people. Regardless of your particular industry, once you establish the mindset that you are in the “People Business” then it almost does not matter what you sell. The mindset of the great salesforces starts with focusing on the salespeople and their attitudes and behaviors.

Below are three mindsets you can work on with your sales leaders to move towards having much better employee and customer loyalty and amazing financial results.

The company’s success comes from its people. Click To Tweet

Salespeople First, Customers Second, Money Third

Let’s face it: we are driven in companies to push the salesforce for results, and in many cases, financial results. This focus on money first leads us to then focus on customers (where the money comes from) and then as a distant third, fourth, fifth or more, we spend some resources on the salespeople.

This order is actually leading to less profits, upset customers and high employee turnover. What would happen if we changed the order in which we focus on these three elements to employees first, customers second and money third?

Richard Anderson, the former CEO of Delta Airlines, realized that if his company was to survive (he helped bring two airlines, Delta and Northwest out of bankruptcy) it was going to be because of the people. During his tenure at Delta he focused his time and communication on employees (who he thought of as all selling the Delta brand) and making sure they followed the company founder’s values and behaviors. To do this, Richard found an employee manual from the 1940’s and rewrote it into what became the driving principles at Delta. This led to a rebirth in a sales and service culture which led to record profits.

If you want to be truly successful, change the order in your mindset to focus on salespeople/employees first; this drives customer satisfaction and as a result more profits.

Sales Culture First, Structure Second, Strategy Third

For at least the last century the focus has been on sales/company strategy, creating a structure to support it and finally (as an after-thought many times) creating a generic culture. What has this led to?

As companies focused on getting things done, too many strategies) were completed which did not fulfill the key element of strategy, which is to create a sustainable competitive advantage. While sales managers pushed to get things done, they created structures to support this frantic activity. After the strategy and structure were created (with little employee involvement) sales managers wondered why employees did not want to execute the strategy and why restructuring the salesforce was not working.

Make your sales culture the focus of your efforts and then the structures and strategies to support that culture. This will lead to highly productive and happy salespeople who customers love and buy more from. A good culture to start out with is one based on the C.A.P. values of Curiosity, Accountability and People Skills.

Sales Leaders First, Coaching Second and Managing Third

A leader focuses on salespeople and sales culture, a coach on sales processes and a manager on sales strategies and results. It is important as a sales leader to focus on all three of these areas, in the order mentioned, as people first need to be inspired and have a culture to live, then be in a structure that grows and then be held accountable for producing great results.

There are currently too many sales managers, a few sales coaches and hardly any sales leaders. This heavy emphasis on managing the salesforce with quotas and a “Beatings will continue until morale improves attitude” is leading to salespeople who sell because they have to, customers that buy because they have to, and profits that come in below expectations because everyone is being forced to do something sometimes against their will.

When you lead first, coach second and manage third you will have a salesforce that likes and is successful at selling, treats customers well and produces great results.

A secret to having a great salesforce is to hire and promote well and this is again done with an emphasis on hiring people that fit your culture, growing them with coaching and training and holding them accountable to reach the high levels they are capable of.

Remember: Sales culture eats sales strategy for breakfast, and ensure that you adopt a culture-driven selling mindset.

John Waid is the founder of C-3 Corporate Culture Consulting, a keynote speaker and author of the book, Reinventing Ralph. With a specialty and passion for corporate culture, sales and global business, John believes culture is the engine that drives companies to better results, higher morale, and increased profitability. An active speaker, trainer and subject matter expert, John Waid holds an enduring belief that corporate culture is the key to success for companies. For more information on John Waid, please visit: www.CorporateCultureConsulting.com.

The Three Values of Great Salespeople

Put on Your C.A.P. and Evolve as a Leader in Sales

 By John Waid

John Waid-values of salespeopleDon’t you wish you felt like someone wasn’t trying to merely sell you something and instead was really on your side and wanted you to be happy with what your purchase? Wouldn’t a world with less pushy salespeople be nice? The best salespeople don’t simply adhere to acronyms like ABC—Always Be Closing—or the X-step processes that remove the humanity from sales interactions. The majority of selling is not technique, but plain old people skills.

When people are asked what makes for a great salesperson they’ll often cite characteristics like listening, asking great questions, caring more about the buyer than themselves, building rapport and being liked as people, handling objections well and shutting up. These are all behaviors that can be found in the three values every great salesperson must possess.

Let’s dispel the myth of what selling is. Most salespeople will tell you that they sold something and yet, if you think about it, they did not sell anything without someone buying. Selling is not the action, so really, salespeople could be called facilitators of buying. “To sell” sounds aggressive and can put the customer in a defensive position, and the inherent “tricks of the sales trade” often leave buyers with a sour taste in their mouths. There is a better methodology that goes to the core of why we sell in the first place—and it’s one that is not financially-driven. Believing in and selling a product or service that can improve an aspect of a buyer’s life should be the primary motivator for salespeople. It’s much better than selling just to hit a sales target or benchmark.

Once you establish a purpose aside from financial gain, there are three distinct values and some adjoining behaviors that drive the best salespeople. The acronym CAP is easy to remember and you will see that after we talk about all three, you or great salespeople you see will have on this CAP every day.A positive mental attitude and deciding to like everyone for something is something that is not only great in sales, but also in life. Click To Tweet

What is the first value? Are you curious? The first value is Curiosity.

Curiosity is the value that drives the best to want to know what is behind the reason why people are buying something. Why do some salespeople create rabid fans around buying their products and services when others do not? It’s because these salespeople add value.

Let’s pretend you have a paperclip company that sells plastic paperclips in ten colors and three sizes. Let’s also say that these paperclips are three-times more expensive. The first salesperson, Jim, goes to call on clients and pushes the paperclips. He has yet to meet his numbers. The second salesperson, Jenny, goes in asking questions to the business owners like, “How important is organization to you?” “How and why could organization help your business be even better?” “Why is being innovative in business important?” Jenny has resolved to selling an organization system and innovation in what most would see as simple clips that really do not warrant spending three-times more money on. Jenny is excellent at asking great open-ended questions and listening for the last drop to uncover value for the client in her products, whereas Jim is simply pushing paperclips.

Developing an attitude of curiosity to help build value for the customer along with the two key behaviors of great open questions and listening can lead you to enjoy selling like Jenny much more than Jim.

The second value is the one that makes you do all the right things and not cut corners: Accountability.

Accountability is an attitude that exudes success. Think about how much better you could have done in school if you had prepared before each quiz or exam, finished reading and taking notes on every textbook and gone to every class and asked for help when you did not know something. You might have gone to a better school and possibly had an easier life. Have you ever tried to build a piece of furniture without first reading the instructions? How long did it take you to build the furniture and how painful was it?

The best salespeople prepare in writing and are meticulous about preparing their territory plans, target accounts, their positive mental attitude, materials, open questions, objection handling, etc. There is a great story about a sales manager that went out on a field ride with one of his sales reps. As they were on the road the manager asked the rep if he had a catalog of the products. The rep said it was in the back seat. The manager then started on the first page and asked if he had a sample of that product with him. The answer was no, so the manager ripped out the page and threw it out the window saying, “I guess we won’t be selling that product today”. He threw the whole catalog out the window after going through this exercise several times. The lesson learned here is that preparation is 90 percent of success and if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

The third value is a love for people through great People skills.

Is it more important that you like the customer or that the customer likes you? Before you rush to answer the question, think about it a bit. How is the customer going to like you if you do not like them? Having a positive mental attitude and deciding to like everyone for something is something that is not only great in sales, but also in life. We spend much of our time interacting with people and if we do not do this well it can cause a lot of heartache. Many of the most successful salespeople create rapport and learn to mirror the behaviors of others for better understanding of them and themselves. The ability to create likeability is the first step in creating “trustability”. Helping people to buy is not easy when they do not like you.

So there you have it. These three values and the adjoining behaviors are key to sales and even make for a better life. Put on your sales C.A.P. daily and you’ll begin to see a boost in relationships, a boost in your numbers, and a boost in your satisfaction as a salesperson.

John Waid is the founder of C-3 Corporate Culture Consulting, a keynote speaker and author of the book, Reinventing Ralph. With a specialty and passion for corporate culture, sales and global business, John believes culture is the engine that drives companies to better results, higher morale, and increased profitability. An active speaker, trainer and subject matter expert, John Waid holds an enduring belief that corporate culture is the key to success for companies. For more information on John Waid, please visit: www.CorporateCultureConsulting.com.