In a world of radical transparency, internal culture is now external brand. How your employees are serving customers is a complete reflection of how those employees are served by your company. In a consumer market, customer centricity is queen.
For a salesperson, putting the customer at the center means creating trust. As a salesperson, you have to provide a prospect with the value propositions that are relevant for them to sell up the chain. In order to provide them the most effective value propositions, a sales person must know the prospects needs and fears.
This requires trust. Trust is built when there is a willingness to learn, driven by curiosity. Continuous learning, curiosity and active listening seem to be well understood in the customer-salesperson relationship, but often lost when it comes to sales team dynamics.
Creating a high value exchange is the most effective way to close a sale, this means uncovering customer needs and positioning value propositions around those needs. Rather than having incentive structures and processes handed down as mandates, team leaders can create the same kind of high value exchanges with their team by leveraging the tools of curiosity, and active listening with a focus on learning and growth towards success.
Team leads that take the time to understand their people’s individual motivations, goals and ways of working, achieve 3x the return (Great Places to Work study on high trusting teams).
To create a higher value exchange, we recommend asking your employees questions like:
The first step of creating a high value exchange on the team is creating leaders as learners. When leaders are fixated on defining the “right” way of working, they deem deviant sales styles as wrong. In order for sales team leaders to accept that there are other perspectives and ways of working, there must be a willingness to learn from other perspectives.
When we can distance our personal identity from “the way things are done” it becomes less about protecting our individual beliefs (and ultimately identity) and more about working together toward a solution. Once leaders can separate identity from behaviors, it becomes easier to listen and to act on feedback.
Simon Leslie, Co-founder and joint CEO of Ink Media has a staff of more than 250 people in six offices around the globe. Over time he had noticed that some of the senior sales leaders were not advancing the same way others did on the team. The feedback was that traditional trainings were not resonating anymore. They wanted a fresh perspective. He sought out new thought leadership to give his team the support they wanted to learn how to level up and set new standards for goals they set.
Working with Silvia Christmann allowed Simon and his team to uncovered blind spots in their own approach especially when it came to developing their female leaders. His curiosity and willingness to learn set a tone across the organization that places continuous learning at the forefront of its culture which yields favorable results bottom line results.
The challenge in creating high value exchanges on sales teams lies within dated systems and hierarchies that are inefficient and don’t focus on employee growth. Authors of Primed to Perform, Lindsay McGregor and Neel Doshi, studied 20,000 workers of all skill levels across U.S. industries and found that there are two types of performance, tactical and adaptive performance. Every high performer needs both but they are only measured on tactical performance.
The problem is that tactical performance doesn’t allow for collaboration or creativity, binding salespeople with processes and manuals. Adaptive performance welcomes continuous learning, curiosity and active listening necessary to create a high value exchange with the customer and in turn on the team.
When we measure both types of performance we create much more valuable employee relationships by incentivize innovative behavior and giving a voice to those that could hold solutions to pressing organizational problems.
A relentless focus on learning is the only way to achieve both tactical and adaptive performance.
When employees see that their organization is invested in their growth and they are working together towards a high value exchange this creates higher performance.
Taking it Across the Organization
If you want a responsive support department, a committed sales team and an innovative design team, then start with a responsive, innovative, leadership team. If you want an external brand of customer service, you must have an internal culture of customer service. Customer service needs to be integrated throughout the customer journey (not just delivered in the sales process) for the customer to have a coherent experience.
Want to transform your sales team and culture to be truly customer centric? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
This post is a collaboration between Tirza Hollenhorst, SilviaChristmann and Sarah Howard.