If your sales are struggling, it can be hard to determine the problem. You might look at the process, your team’s skills, or individual salespeople or managers. One factor that often gets overlooked is company culture.
So how can your company culture hurt sales?
Whether it affects salespeople or customers directly, company culture can drive behaviors in many ways. Here are 7 examples of culture problems – and ways to address them.
1. Chaotic company culture leads to tentative sales.
If your company is going through significant uncertainty, salespeople may be unsure of what message to bring to the market. If the chaos is visible from the outside, prospects may also be hesitant to move forward.
Communication is the best solution to this problem. Work to ensure that your salespeople know what’s going on and what you’re doing. Keep them in the loop as you plan external messaging so they know what their prospects are likely to hear.
2. Toxic company culture infects sales.
We’ve all seen it – a political, backbiting culture full of gossip and finger-pointing. Unsurprisingly, it’s hard to successfully sell in that environment. Salespeople will be hesitant to depend on anyone, and it’s often difficult to sell without support from management and other departments. Prospects can often sense this kind of culture, and they tend to run away.
This is a big problem to solve. One first step can be to establish clear expectations within your sphere of influence. If you won’t tolerate gossip or personal attacks, your group’s culture will begin to improve, and it will begin to influence the overall company culture.
3. Aggressive company culture creates pushy salespeople.
Last year’s Wells Fargo scandal is just one example of what can happen when a company culture is too aggressive. On a smaller (and less criminal) scale, aggressive culture can lead to unpleasant, pushy salespeople who prospects avoid.
If you’re struggling with an aggressive culture, start by re-evaluating your goals. Establish realistic goals that stretch people without breaking them. And teach your salespeople to know the difference between assertive and aggressive behavior.
4. Repressive company culture inhibits sales.
Are your salespeople afraid to make suggestions or point out problems? That’s a sign that you may have a repressive company culture. This will inhibit good ideas and keep you from avoiding some missteps. It can also drive to gossip as salespeople turn to peers and friends to share things they’re prevented from sharing at work.
If you’ve struggled with a repressive culture, just saying you’ve changed isn’t enough. Actively solicit feedback and ideas, and celebrate people who provide solutions. Eventually, people will be comfortable speaking up.
5. Competition-bashing company culture poisons the market.
Some companies seem obsessed with their competition. Rather than advertising their own value, they tear down their competitors. This position usually spreads to the sales team – their collateral often emphasizes competitors’ weaknesses. This can be frustrating for prospects as they find the approach off-putting and just want to find the best solution.
If you find yourself spending more time thinking and talking about your competitors than yourself, take a step back. Work with your team to identify the unique value you provide and align your marketing and sales collateral around that.
6. Dishonest company culture drives salespeople away.
Are your products and services ineffective? Do you consistently fall short of commitments? A dishonest culture will drive salespeople to leave – good salespeople won’t sell something they’re not confident in. And while you might get some customers to buy, they won’t come back for repeat business.
Some failures are inevitable, and no product is perfect. If you try to sweep these problems under a rug, they will quickly impact your company culture. Instead, be open about problems and your willingness to work toward a solution.
7. Complacent company culture accepts mediocre sales.
If your salespeople consistently fall short of their goals without any repercussions, you might have developed a complacent culture. This is common in some smaller businesses who are hesitant to fire anyone and don’t have mechanisms for accountability.
Accountability and transparency are the solution for complacency. When goals and results are public, it’s hard for people to hide. And when you review performance consistently and hold your salespeople accountable to their targets, they’ll develop the right habits quickly, or they’ll leave to find a new place to be comfortable.
If any of these culture problems resonated with you, you may have some work on your hands to change it. Check out our resource on developing a healthy sales culture!