ave you ever had a car that was out of alignment? What impact did that have on where you were going and how you got there? Eventually you might get there, but the ride could get bumpy and it could slow you down.

The same dynamic occurs with an organization. What happens if your sales culture is out of alignment -- with customer expectations and or the changing market conditions?

In today's competitive business environment, organizational detours and slowdowns have a negative impact on sales, costs and profits. So the question is, does your sales culture help or hurt?

Let's define "sales culture." It is the internal written and unwritten processes and behaviors of the way an organization operates and performs.

Executive views

My company recently held a series of interviews with senior executives who candidly discussed their sales cultures. Several industries were represented with a diversity of offerings ranging from financial services to corporate jet planes. All agreed that sales culture alignment, internal

and external, is critical for business retention and profitable growth. They consistently mentioned five common corporate elements. Each is critical to an effective sales culture. When each element is acted upon, you create a culture that contributes to the corporate goals and objectives, and that promotes new levels of performance and retention of your top performers.

1. Vision. Top performers like working for winning teams. Is there a clearly articulated and understood destination, so even if the road gets bumpy your people stay motivated and focused?

2. Talent Fit. Selling organizations, now more than ever, need leaders at all levels who will learn, teach and coach. People who can seize the windows of opportunities with speed and, when

needed, navigate themselves and others through the transitions of change. Do you have the right people in the right positions?

3. Sales processes. It's difficult to create or maintain a competitive advantage without the use of common sales processes. Do you have a road map, a "game plan" strategy, that helps win deals and strengthen relationships with the most effective use of your valuable resources? Do your sales processes facilitate shared knowledge and rapid response to your customers needs?

4. Standards. Winning organizations have the three P's -- principles, policies and procedures. What is critical to your success but not being measured or enforced?

5. Rewards. Ask any top-performing salesperson and they will tell you that their performance is driven by what is recognized and rewarded. is there compensation and recognition in place that keeps your sales people moving at the needed pace and on the right road?

So, does your sales culture help or hurt? Can you measure its fit and alignment with the rest of your organization? Is it a bumpy ride or does your sales culture enable your organization to react to the curves of your business and customers?

Johnson is founder of Dallas-based Sinequanon Group Inc., a sales performance consulting group. She can be reached at ajohnson@sgroupinc.com or by phone at 972.991.6991

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