February 16

Three Obstacles to Building a Sales Culture of Excellence

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Excellence means greatness and we enjoying watching moments of excellence. It can vary from watching a Broadway musical where actors and actresses thrill us with their ability to effortlessly dance and sing. Or, you attend an athletic event where you observe playbooks being executed flawlessly in spite of the competition trying to present obstacles to that execution.

Sales leaders also strive to build excellence in their organization. However, attaining excellence isn’t easy. It’s not for the faint of heart because leaders will run into obstacles even when your sales team knows that excellence is what keeps you in business, it’s what makes you competitive and it’s also what makes selling easier.

Let's explore three common hurdles that sales leaders face in their quest to build a culture of excellence.

Resistance to Change: A Common Foe

One of the primary adversaries in the pursuit of sales excellence is resistance to change. Despite understanding the importance of adaptation, human nature tends to resist unfamiliar territory. It's not just about logic; our brains instinctively perceive change as a threat.

In the sales arena, this resistance can manifest in various forms, from reluctance to adopt new technologies to sticking with outdated sales methodologies. The reptilian brain, responsible for fight, flight, or freeze responses, often takes over, overriding rational decision-making processes.

So, how can sales leaders tackle this obstacle?

Educate your sales team about the neuroscience behind change and its impact on decision-making. When faced with change, the reptilian brain sends messages indicating that change is dangerous. It’s better to play it safe. By increasing your sales team’s awareness of the biology behind “change reluctance,” you’ll foster an environment where change is perceived as normal, not dangerous. This creates a sales team that adapts more effectively to evolving landscapes.

This agility creates a sales culture of excellence.

Investing in Training: The MVP of Excellence

Consider the dedication and countless hours of training any person or team of mastery has invested in honing their skills and knowledge. Sadly, sales organizations often fall short in investing adequate time and resources in training their teams.

Common excuses I’ve heard include:  

  • I hired veterans. They have years of experience. (And nothing has changed in 20 years????)
  • I can’t afford to take my team out of the field. (But you can afford to have them continue to making the same sales mistakes…)
  • We don’t have a budget for training. (Ironically there is a budget for hiring and training new salespeople because of high turnover because people aren’t ramping up quickly enough.)
  • We invested in training and nothing changed. (What???? One day of training didn’t improve their habits, attitudes and skills. It must have been the instructor’s fault.)

Enough with the excuses. Even if you have a limited budget, you can always find ways to learn and improve:

  • Create a book club and meet twice a month to review how to apply the learnings from assigned chapters. There are a lot of smart people out there---learn from them.
  • Listen to a podcast or watch a TED talk at a group sales meeting. Discuss how the information can be applied to your business.
  • Ask each member of your team to teach a concept they have found useful during sales calls. There is a lot of wisdom in the room. Create a venue for sharing.

CEO’s and sales leaders, it’s up to you to recognize the pivotal role of training in fostering a culture of excellence.

Defined Values: The Guiding Light of Excellence

Values are not mere words plastered on office walls; they should be the guiding principles that actually “hit the halls” and shape organizational culture. Unfortunately, many companies struggle with defining and integrating their core values into daily practices.

Undefined values lead to ambiguity, resulting in attitude and behavioral issues that require micromanagement. To combat this, assign actionable behaviors to each core value which clarifies expectations of what it means to be a member of an excellent sales team.  

For example, integrity might be one of your core values. The actions associated with this value is that the data put into the CRM system is accurate. There is no “fudging” of date because that is a nice word for lying about your actions.

Perhaps you’ve chosen respect as a core value. The action associated with this value is showing up to meetings on-time, respecting everyone else’s schedules. It means paying attention, giving respect, to team members when they are speaking during meetings rather than returning a non-critical email.

Defined values help each team member bring their “best selves.”

And a collection of “best selves” is an excellent sales culture.

If you want to win in this fast-paced world of sales, pursue excellence. Embrace change, invest in education and demonstrate your values.

Good Selling!


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