If you want to boost sales at your company and you focus on techniques such as cold calling, networking, or advertising, you may be missing a crucial part of the equation. Your salespeople are the ambassadors for your company. If they’re not excited about work, your company will struggle.
According to research conducted by the global consulting firm Korn Ferry Institute, a strong workplace culture can increase sales by 30%. Furthermore, in a study conducted by Queen’s University Centre for Business Venturing in Canada, organizations with an engaged culture were shown to have 15% greater employee productivity and up to 30% greater customer satisfaction levels.
Do your employees come to work excited every day? Do they tell everyone they know about your amazing products? If not, it may be time to work on your company culture. Keep reading to find out how your current company culture may be costing you, and learn how to improve it to boost sales.
Your Culture May Cost You
Workplace culture is a company’s personality — from the perspective of the employees. It describes how employees experience a company’s mission, values, ethics, expectations, goals, and workspaces, and how employees think of an organization and its products.
Ideally, the experience of a company’s employees should mirror the experience of its customers, and the company culture should reflect the brand. Etsy, the online marketplace for creatives, is known for its vibrant culture, which reflects the company’s unique mission. The furnishings in their Brooklyn headquarters were made by local craftspeople and Etsy sellers, and handmade artwork adorns the walls. Employees have access to a printmaking studio and attend monthly on-site craft nights.
If your company culture doesn’t reflect your brand, your employees may not understand or believe in your values. For example, if you sell healthy food to the public but serve junk food in your cafeteria, your employees may be confused about your mission.
Only 41% of employees say they know what their company stands for and what distinguishes it from competitors. Moreover, a little more than a quarter (27%) of employees in a Gallup survey say they believe in their companies’ values. It’s difficult to sell a brand you don’t understand or believe in.
Build a Company Culture that Boosts Sales
Want to boost sales? Your company culture should reflect your company’s values and foster the following qualities.
Sales expert Steven W. Martin analyzed the behavior of 1,000 successful salespeople and found that 82% of top sellers were extremely curious. Good salespeople need to learn as much as possible about a company and its products, ask the right questions to understand clients’ needs, and listen more than they talk when conversing with potential clients. Curious employees not only make more sales, they learn quickly, are more positive at work, and are able to successfully bring ideas to fruition.
Organizations that encourage curiosity are more likely to attract curious workers, according to research conducted by the pharmaceutical company Merck. Curiosity includes openness to new ideas, inquisitiveness, creative problem solving, and the ability to tolerate some distress, which is normal when people are confronted with new concepts. To create a culture of curiosity, employees need to take a more active role in their work.
How to foster a culture of curiosity:
- Be curious about your employees, their interests, and their pet projects.
- Allow workers to choose their own ways of accomplishing tasks.
- Give employees time and resources to explore new ideas.
- Provide educational resources and training.
- Reward employees for innovation and offering new perspectives.
- Be willing to hear constructive feedback and embrace change when necessary.
The days of hierarchical and secretive business models may be over. There’s a trend toward more openness and transparency in the business world, which is a good thing because transparency breeds trust and fuels employee engagement. The majority (90%) of job seekers in one survey said they’d like to work at a company that embraces transparency.
Unfortunately, many companies still have a long way to go when it comes to transparency. Only 23% of American workers in one survey feel like they have full insight into how their companies are faring. More than half (46%) said they aren’t confident their company provides accurate information about the health of the business. Nearly a third (31%) say more transparency would help them understand their company’s goals better, and 23% say more transparency would help them be more motivated.
Customers also want more transparency from businesses. In one study, 94% of consumers said they’re more likely to trust brands that commit to full transparency. And More than one third (39%) said they’d switch to a new brand in pursuit of product transparency, and 73% said they’d pay more for a product that promised full transparency.
How to foster a culture of transparency:
- Include salary ranges in job postings.
- Have regular meetings with your team to discuss the company’s successes and challenges. Tell it like it is instead of putting a spin on it.
- Share your financial model, cash flow statements, documents, and meeting notes with your entire team.
- Use a team communication tool, such as Slack, to distribute information to employees instead of relying on email. Leave communication channels open and transparent for everyone to see.
- Enable employees to give constructive feedback anonymously anytime. Never punish anyone for speaking up.
- If an employee quits or is fired, let the rest of your team know why.
- Make your pricing model and product information freely available to the public.
- Use social media to give people a look inside the business, and don’t edit too much.
It’s time to retire the myth of the lone-wolf sales genius who single-handedly drives a team to success. Salespeople must function as a team and share secrets, tactics, and solutions for a company to thrive. In fact, until recently many people didn’t realize that collaboration is more important to innovation and success in all fields. As creativity researcher Keith Sawyer explains in his book Group Genius, “Innovations once believed to be the creation of a genius actually emerged from invisible collaborations.”
In a Miller Heiman study of successful companies, salespeople were twice as likely to collaborate across departments to close deals than they were in less successful companies. Moreover, in a study conducted by CSO Insights, 59% of salespeople met their sales quotas in companies with a formal collaboration approach, compared to only 39% at companies with no collaboration model or an ad-hoc approach (meaning people shared information when they felt like it).
Still, collaboration is lacking in many companies. In one survey, 39% of employees said people in their organization didn’t collaborate enough.
How to build a culture of collaboration:
- Hire people who describe their past work experiences in a way that emphasizes teamwork.
- Give bonuses to people who collaborate well with other team members and across departments.
- Distribute commissions to everyone who collaborated on a sale, not just the lead salesperson.
- Give your salespeople the tools and technology they need to collaborate.
- Make sales, marketing, and customer service data available across departments, and establish similar metrics for success.
When you recognize your employees’ unique strengths and allow them to do more of what they’re good at, it can pay off big time. In a study of nearly 50,000 businesses in 49 countries, employees were assessed for their strengths, coached on improving them, and given an opportunity to do more of the work at which they excelled. The results were impressive. Sales improved 10 to 19%, profits increased by 14 to 29%, and employee engagement went up by 9 to 15%.
When employees in another study were asked what motivates them to do their best work, the largest group (37%) said recognition. The best recognition is individualized, honest, and authentic. It can be as small as a thank you note and as big as a promotion.
How to build a culture of recognition:
- Observe and listen to your employees so you understand their strengths and interests.
- Reward exceptional work by assigning more of the same type of work.
- Frequently offer informal, in-person, specific appreciation to all members of your team.
- Base your formal employee recognition program on your company’s values. For instance, if innovation is one of your core values, reward people for coming up with outside-the-box ideas.
- Recognize each employee annually for their service with a personalized gift or catered lunch.
- Celebrate birthdays by giving employees a personalized gift or a paid day off.
- Adopt an employee wellness program, which can boost employee health and productivity.
- Allow flexible scheduling and telecommuting options, which can be a win-win for employees and organizations.
When your employees love coming to work and believe in your values, they become your company’s passionate advocates. Focus your efforts on improving your company culture and higher sales will follow.