Ep 041 More Than a Number: Establishing the Right Sales Culture
We all want to have the right people working with us. But what happens when we have the right person but the wrong fit for the company’s sales culture? My guest today is an expert who is helping companies identify not just the right people for the job, but the right people for the sales culture at that job. Andrea Pagnozzi is the Principal Coach and Consultant at Flint Coaching and Consulting.
Hear our conversation with Andrea Pagnozzi where we discuss:
– What (if anything) we’ve learned from the Great Resignation
– Why the key to thriving in a sales culture is through belonging and connecting
– Sales managers becoming good coaches and mentors for their employees
– Why sales training and coaching tends to be too tactical
– Andrea’s three-pronged approach to training.
– Why any L&D spending should start with your leaders
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Learning from the Great Resignation
At this point, the pandemic’s wake may seem to be stretching out infinitely — and most of us are understandably tired of talking about it. But to understand sales culture in today’s landscape, it has to be addressed.
In many ways, sales teams everywhere have learned valuable lessons about remote work and adapting to crises. We’ve come a long way since the first surge in cases a few years ago.
Should — heaven forbid — another pandemic strike, we have the systems and technologies in place to be prepared for another unexpected stretch of mandatory remote work. That’s a good thing.
But it’s only half the battle.
The lingering effects of the pandemic include the infamous Great Resignation — wherein workers across many disparate industries shared a mass “aha” moment. They realized that a steady paycheck wasn’t enough; the flexibility and other benefits afforded them by the necessities of social distancing shone a spotlight on the faults inherent in “the way things have always been.”
And what did sales leaders learn from this?
If you ask Andrea, her answer may initially seem deflating.
“Nothing,” she says.
For Andrea, sales managers — who may have handled the once-in-a-lifetime crisis as well as one could realistically expect — have yet to candidly reflect on what went wrong. They need to learn from the Great Resignation.
Of course, it’s understandable that sales managers may be overlooking the most important lessons. After all, as sales people moved on to greener pastures, they were the ones left scrambling to fill these employees’ shoes and struggling to reprise the roles that led them to become leaders in the first place.
But therein lies the key: If managers had done more to empower their employees, maybe the Great Resignation could have been avoided in the first place. The real lesson from the Great Resignation is that sales leaders need to shift their focus from simply hiring and developing the “best” salespeople to hiring and developing the best salespeople for their sales culture.
That’s the secret to thriving for the long-haul, no matter what new challenges your team faces.
A Sales Culture of Belonging and Connection
Building the kind of sales team that can weather any storm is no easy task, but there are a few considerations managers can draw upon to craft the kind of sales culture to rise to the challenge.
Namely, ensuring they build the team around two things: belonging and connection.
Sure, many sales managers understand the important role these play in retention, but, sadly, most still don’t prioritize these when it comes to building their teams. And the culture suffers.
To illustrate the point, Andrea cites the usual considerations when hiring new sales talent. Most managers focus inordinate attention on the raw sales acumen of their candidate above everything else — an understandable, if flawed, outlook.
That’s not to say that proven skills don’t matter — far from it — the problem only arises when these distract from other, equally important considerations. Chief among them: whether the candidate is the right fit for your sales culture and how they could potentially help improve it.
“Building a culture isn’t about checking boxes,” Andrea says. “It’s about finding the right skill sets to complement the rest of your team.”
What sales managers really need to focus on — whether that be for new or existing employees — is inculcating that sense of belonging and connection. It’s how you foster a sales culture filled with loyal employees dedicated to your long-term success.
To accomplish this, Andrea suggests giving potential hires plenty of opportunities (and time) in the hiring process to ask questions about your sales culture and, importantly, how they can fit in and connect to it. After all, the interview should go both ways — at least, if you plan on giving your sales culture the attention it deserves.
Of course, to shore up that culture, you need to attend to existing employees, too — thankfully, there’s no need to start from scratch.
Ultimately, culture is created from the top down, so sales managers need to learn the right way to coach and mentor their team.
“A better way of doing things as a sales manager is to lead with empathy, but also lead with efficacy.”– Andrea Pagnozzi
Coaching and mentorship
Sales managers can reinforce their sales culture by taking a three-pronged approach to training, says Andrea.
In her trainings, the process goes something like this:
- “See one” — the salesperson learns from educational materials. This could be through watching sales experts work, attending lessons or can even be self-guided.
- “Do one” — with coaching from their manager, the salesperson applies these concepts in the field, working through what they’ve learned and building experience.
- “Teach one” — the student becomes the teacher as the salesperson sets about teaching another team member the lessons they have learned.
It’s this last one that’s most important for building behaviors, says Andrea.
It’s not until you have the ability to teach others what you have learned that you can ever truly absorb the lesson for yourself. Without this crucial step, it’s far too easy to fall into the trap of merely “checking the boxes.”
To get the most out of mentoring within this framework, Andrea emphasizes that sales managers need to strike a balance between stepping in modeling the right behaviors and techniques and allowing their team members the room to succeed or fail on their own. If you continuously step in, you risk signaling to your team that you don’t trust them.
That perception leads to turnover.
“A better way of doing things as a sales manager,” Andrea says, “is to lead with empathy, but also lead with efficacy.”
Ultimately, if you want to build a thriving sales culture that can weather pandemics or economic downturns, leadership needs to be fully present and empathetic, without ever coddling or micromanaging. That’s how you foster belonging and connection.
That’s the lesson sales managers need to learn from the Great Resignation.
Sales Culture Podcast Related Links
Follow Andrea on LinkedIn
Flint Coaching and Consulting website
Follow Andrea on Twitter
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