There’s no denying that it takes a certain personality to succeed in sales. They’ve got a gift for gab and an even better gift for lending an ear. They’re expert problem solvers and flawless self-starters -- not to mention, extremely goal-oriented and driven by the almighty dollar.
But for all their unique attributes, salespeople are still like any other employee in your company. They want to understand how their work contributes to the company’s purpose and vision beyond the obvious revenue stream. They want to feel valued for their contributions and have opportunities to grow and develop.
For many organizations, however, this can be a challenge because salespeople often work remotely -- making it easy to isolate them. With this negative attitude, the sales team may start to separate itself from the organization. Bad move for the business.
Indeed, companies with an inclusive business culture regularly outperform those without one as long as that culture aligns with the business itself.
Fortunately, having this sort of inclusive culture can be easily implemented in our own company by simply committing to employee engagement. And although this commitment varies slightly by organization, it usually includes:
Communication. Without singling out the sales team, communicate company-wide that all employees in your organization are equals. Convey that everyone adds value to the business -- from the top down.
Inclusion. It isn’t always enough to tell staff that employees are equals, so find ways to get your different teams together as often as possible. Regardless of their department, invite and involve everyone in cultural events and activities.
Support. Although salespeople are often self-sufficient, they still need support from their leaders every once in awhile. Schedule one-on-one meetings with your sales force, and conduct them at the corporate office or via video conferencing for those working remotely.
Presence. If certain employees aren’t routinely in the office, their contributions are sometimes forgotten. Appoint members of your sales team to champion culture efforts to improve their organizational presence. In addition, make sure the sales team is always represented at senior leadership meetings.
Mentorship. Like any other employee, new salespeople deserve quality onboarding -- not only to learn the ropes but also to feel part of the organization. Consider establishing a mentorship program for new sales associates.
Recognition. Most organizations reward their salespeople for making a sale, focusing recognition solely on the revenue line. Instead, celebrate other contributions made by department members, such as representing the core values of your business.
Autonomy. As important as it is to include salespeople in company events, you can’t forget that they form a department themselves. Empower them to work together to create their own cultural activities and events to foster teamwork and improve performance within the department.
If the sales team isn’t actively engaged in the company culture, they’re likely not personally engaged in the organization itself. And a disengaged sales force can result in diminishing sales, which means lowered revenue. If, however, your sales team appreciates, values and participates in the company culture, it can sell the culture to its prospects -- a primary competitive differentiator for your business. More importantly, they’ll see that their work directly connects to a larger mission.