It's a funny story. When I graduated from university, I received a full-time job offer with the option of working in either PR or sales. I did the PR assessment, and after I turned it in, they offered me the job in sales. I quickly realized it was the best role for me.
It is the direct impact you can have on so many different aspects of business. The things I do every day have implications for my peers, team, and business performance. As I grow as a leader, it's all about building excellent sales organizations.
Yes. A happy sales culture leads to a high-performing team because it minimizes stress. Stress can be endemic within sales organizations. There is often this sense of urgency that causes people to behave competitively. That can be good insofar as it drives their sales cycle, but balance is needed. When stress levels run high, people lose confidence. When they lose confidence, they stop asking the right questions and stop collaborating with their peers. Confident people are more willing to face and ask tough questions and to recognize when they need help and ask for it. For example, who can I bring into the conversation to help close this deal? My manager? A knowledgeable peer or solutions engineer? When a person is happy, confident, and relaxed, they are more likely to face their weaknesses, recognize where they have gaps, and seek assistance with closing deals.
It's a mistake to assume that all salespeople are motivated by money or that happiness naturally follows strong earnings. There are so many other potential sources of sales team happiness. Personal development. Collaborating on teams. Sharing best practices. Forming lasting friendships with our colleagues and peers. These are all significant contributors. When you foster collaboration in a proper team environment, it goes a long way in building a happy sales culture.
After reading the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services study, I am indeed a convert! I want to make sure my team is happy, and I think it is essential to make it a strategic goal — not just within sales but as part of the company's core strategic vision.
I was fortunate to be part of an executive offsite at Forecast, where we focused on developing a set of core corporate values. One value we are road testing is "Oomph," which means high energy and happiness. Is there energy around this initiative? Are people excited about it? Is it inspiring us to bring our A-game? This value is coming from the executive level at Forecast. It needs to start from the top and trickle down to the rest of the organization.
Recognition, for one! It's easy to recognize top performers, but it's also important to acknowledge people for other things. Maybe you observe someone implementing feedback you provided. Or sharing a best practice with the team. Or trying something new. We need to recognize behaviors that create positive impacts. We also need to acknowledge the ideas that don't work. It all contributes.
Sales leaders create happy teams by prioritizing happiness in everything they do, including hiring. You start by recognizing the characteristics, such as collaboration, that help to promote happiness. You then need to identify those characteristics in new job candidates and develop them over time with your teams.
(The interview was conducted during the second half of 2020. It has been edited for brevity and clarity.)
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