At the core of great sales cultures, you feel trust. It's okay to fail. It's okay to try new things. We've all heard that hitting your goals is the only thing that really matters. But great sales cultures develop a sense of collective consciousness, which is a term developed by philosopher Emile Durkheim. In the future, sales teams will become more distributed; more people will be empowered to make decisions, but they will need to be comfortable trying new things and making mistakes. Great sales cultures are adaptable, and flexible.
My experience has been mixed. I have been at companies that use people analytics to measure people against competency models. But you’re fooling yourself if you think you can force people into models. People analytics are most powerful, I believe, when they focus on how people feel — about their work, their teams, themselves.
As leaders, I believe we have a duty of care to help everyone on our teams. Potential is not something that some people have, and some don't. Everyone has potential. The leader’s job is to figure out who has momentum, because peoples’ momentum ebbs and flows over months and years. As a formula, momentum equals mass times velocity. Mass generally increases over a lifetime as one gains experience, skills. Velocity rises and falls for all sorts of reasons. I don’t base my time and attention on how a person is performing because work — like life — moves in cycles. Some quarters or years will be great, others won’t. I might advise a top performer to focus on skills development because next year might not be so great. For someone who is struggling, my job is to encourage and remind them that they might be the ones on top next year.
A 2019 McKinsey study across 1,000 large companies and 15 countries found that businesses ranking in the top 25% for gender diversity on their boards outperformed peers by 25% in financial terms. When you look at companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity, the percentage by which they outperform other companies rises from 25% to 36%. Diversity in gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, emotional intelligence, adaptability, experience, and creativity — it all matters. If you are not making efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in your teams and business, I believe you will fall behind. That said, finding diverse talent can be difficult. Most of the time, we're looking for someone with five years of experience, knowledge of specific solutions, industry experience, three languages, and so forth. Now, we are adding diversity to that list.
Start with your network. Before you go looking for candidates, take a step back and think about how you might make your network more diverse. Find and join organizations and forums for women and minorities in business. When you make your network more diverse, it becomes much easier to reach a more diverse pool of candidates when hiring. This has worked well for me.
It’s easy to get things wrong by thinking money is the only way to a salesperson’s heart. Here at G2, our value system is based on Maslow's five-tier hierarchy of needs. The hierarchy starts with basic needs — warmth, food, rest, and safety, and then moves up to psychological needs such as belonging, prestige, accomplishment, and finally to self-actualization and realizing one’s full potential. Non-monetary rewards work extremely well because they allow us to address higher levels in the hierarchy of needs. Once the basic needs are met, it is the feelings of belonging, love, and a shared sense of purpose that create real connections and bonds.
Throwing money at people is often the easy option. But when you really care about building connections and making people feel connected to you, the business, and its purpose, you need to focus on the non-monetary. Great companies and great leaders believe in giving employees opportunities not only to fulfill basic needs, but to feel they belong and are appreciated. At the end of day, you need to care about building relationships with people.
(The interview was conducted during the second half of 2020. It has been edited for brevity and clarity.)
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