Core values drive your sales team’s performance

Understand this first: culture is your competitive advantage. But core values support that company culture.

Core values are fundamental. They support company culture and, consequently, your sales performance and profits.

I witness the importance of the company’s core values daily. Core values define company culture, inform businesses’ strategic plans, and drive sales activities and performance.

The primary objective for any sales force is predictability and consistency in meeting sales targets and quotas.

Core values, and the company culture they cultivate, are the crucial ingredients in achieving predictability and consistency in the sales team’s actions and behaviors that foster desirable results and success.

The key to success is to standardize and enforce subjective and objective measurements across every department within the organization.

sales leader speak with prospect and sales team

Why are company values important?

Sales departments love to believe that they can measure everything.

Leadership looks to measure sales professionals based on their numbers because it is the most simple approach.

Sales management measures revenue, KPIs, sales activity, and more. It’s an objective assessment of an individual or organization.

Sales is the only department that is only measured objectively; leadership, marketing, operations, finance, HR, and admin/IT are most commonly measured subjectively.

The challenge for sales leaders is that many need to learn how to measure and view sales reps and sales managers subjectively. And it usually stems from a lack of standardized subjective measures across the organization.

When I consult companies that don’t organize themselves around clear company values, management’s decisions vary from topic to topic, department to department, and from year to year, resulting in destructive behaviors.

sales team and sales leader

Let me define both the subjective and objective:

  • Objective: Every department has transparent KPIs and is held accountable to those KPIs.
  • Subjective: Every department is held accountable to the common values and culture of the company.

Remember, culture will form whether you purposely create it or not. To enable a consistent culture, you must standardize it across your company.

When there is no alignment, or the core values are vague, each department will run its subjectivity differently.

It creates a mismatch and a clash in your culture between departments and breeds unhealthy disjointed business culture.

Your core values are the right way to measure your entire organization and keep culture consistent or develop a culture.

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Defining Core Values

Core values are simply what your company stands for. You may express in a core mission statement, or a series of action statements with common themes that senior management upholds and believes will lead your company to success. Therefore, it reinforces the actions and performance of the organization. 

You can represent the relationship this way:

core values → company culture → actions/performance

These are the subjective measures of the business or organization’s personality and body myth.

They are distinct values and not vague or temporary proclamations open to interpretation by employees, customers, and clients.

Core values are specific and measurable, identifiable from a desired attribute it wants to support, which leads to better decisions by management and engaged employees.

For example, if senior management values integrity and fairness, the core value could apply:

“Always do right by the customers, employees, and shareholders, and our decisions do not favor one over the other.”

Your message clearly states that no group will benefit at the expense of another.

meeting between salespeople and sales leader

The core value translates into a sales management style that does not reduce sales commissions to divert money to shareholders with higher dividends. And instead, rewards and incentives top performers to sell solutions that customers value.

It informs sales culture so that sales reps are solutions-focused, striving for a better understanding of customers’ pain points and continuing to reframe value and success for the customer and not read them a list of features and benefits of the product or service.

In this example, no single action benefits one group at the expense of another.

In contrast, when a company’s core values are vague, like; “do the right thing,” it is open to subjectivity in leadership roles, department teams, individual salespeople, and existing customers.

Do core values make a good sales team?

There is a difference between a good sales team and a game-changing sales team. I don’t want a good sales team but a game-changing one. 

And you should too.

A sales team is an interdependent group of salespeople sharing responsibility and a common sales goal. This is true of different teams within the sales organization: sales enablement or operations. 

Game-Changing Team is an interdependent, stable group of individuals with defined roles who share responsibility, mutual trust, and core values. It also has strong leadership conveying a clear and common goal enforced by core company values. 

The critical differentiator in each of these definitions is the role-defined group. Ultimately, you want individuals that understand their job. 

Talent is a factor, but it depends on whether your team members want it. And their motivation directly correlates to their belief and internalization of the core value. 

That ultimately boils down to their surroundings, so you must control the environment with core values. Control the setting, and you have a shot at controlling the results in the outcome. 

If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, you must go together.

It would help if you had a team to achieve meaningful results – they need to be bought in with the right culture. Whether you choose to build it or not, a culture already exists.

Understand this first: culture is your competitive advantage.

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Building a sales culture

Culture is complex because it requires accountability and transparency. Your life becomes complicated if you hold people accountable, and you can only hold people accountable if they know the standards owned collectively.

Both objective and subjective standards must be visible and transparent at all times.

There is an old saying that what gets measured gets improved. I don’t necessarily believe that.

What gets measured and reported is what indeed improves.

For the objective standards, I recommend using public metric dashboards, like a jumbotron, for the entire organization. Everybody views the results, and everyone is held accountable for the results. It allows individuals to spot weaknesses and improvements. It also further holds your team accountable and boosts commitment levels.

The subjective standards, or company core values, must be published and posted throughout a company. Leadership reviews them in business meetings, stand-ups with all employees, or any other suitable venue.

sales leader and sales reps

When you communicate these core values, ensure that you create an emotional connection between each core value and all employees.

Simply reading or pointing them out to staff will not foster successful adoption and internalization. 

When core values are internalized, salespeople understand them profoundly and cultivate the desired culture. Further, each sales team member understands that they are held accountable to these core values, just like meeting their targets and numbers. 

Any violation of a core value will result in disciplinary action. It is the sales leader’s job to enforce these enforcing actions. 

There is a level of discomfort required to have these tough accountability conversations with employees; discomfort levels ultimately prevent progress.

You must continue reinforcing standards because otherwise, sub-standards become standard, your sales culture has begun redefining itself, and your A-players become B-players

You want to avoid B players because your team’s effectiveness is the most critical factor that will allow your company to become a game-changing company. It’s the factor that impacts your growth the most.

What gets measured and reported is what indeed improves.

Align your salespeople to the company's core values

So, how do you measure salespeople subjectively? You can measure salespeople subjectively against the organization’s core values. Likewise, evaluate new company hires subjectively.

Ask yourself:

  • Does this individual align with our company’s core beliefs?
  • What actions show this to be true?

If there is no core value alignment in existing employees, you need to eliminate them.

You need to give them a warning, feedback, and a chance to realign themselves with the values.

Where you have more significant problems is if these sales manager or rep needs to be aligned and hit their numbers.

You’re essentially exchanging salary for support and infrastructure; it’s counterintuitive.

Here’s how this conversation will go:

Step 1: Frank and Candid Conversation

Start the conversations by telling your salesperson what you know to be true.

Explain why you feel they’re misaligned and what specific actions depict the misalignment.

Avoid asking questions and seeking clarification for individuals with misalignment and poor performance.

I only want to seek clarification from top-performing team members. These members will provide you with feedback that might unearth misalignment in other individuals, management or processes.

Ask them:

  1. “Are you aligned with our sales goals and our company’s goals? And, are they your goals as well?”
  2. “Can you adhere to our organization’s standards and core values?”
  3. “Can you be a positive influence on the sales team?”

If their response to these questions is not a resounding YES, it’s time to transition this individual out of the organization.

And from there, I clarify expectations and set what I want to see from them.

sales hiring and sales team

Step 2: Performance improvement plan

You tell them exactly what needs to be true over an exact period. And it is conditional for them to maintain their employment.

What you need to be true:

  • You need to show core value alignment.
  • You need to be a positive member of the sales team.

Period.

No negotiating.

If not, there is the door.

Attentively, put time aside to meet with this individual again at the end of the period.

 

Reinforce a culture of winning

sales hiring and sales team

When your organization grows, you have to reinforce a culture of winning. This is effectively the role of a good leader. You have to be honest and provide candid and timely feedback to all team members up and down.

You see an individual making a mistake, you tell them so they can fix it. You identify a problem inside of your company; you point it out. You constantly need to improve yourself. Use your brain and think about solutions to issues preventing progress.

We help your team close deals faster and at a higher rate. Rose Garden is solutions-focused, using Team Assessment or our Sales Accelerator to provide you with an in-hand diagnostic, source future leaders, and provide you with a sales experience roadmap for quick results.

Startups and SMEs must stay up-to-date and ahead of the competition in today’s ever-evolving sales landscape. We provide Founders and CEOs with hands-on coaching, tools, and support to create systems & strategies to scale their sales teams. 

You can’t afford to leave anything up to chance.

About the author:

Ali Mirza is the Founder & CEO of Rose Garden, a national sales consulting organization, and featured in Forbes, Inc, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Business Rockstars, and The Wall Street Journal.

Ali is a highly sought-after public speaker presenting at multiple national conferences on innovative ways to accomplish transformational growth on your sales team.

Rose Garden provides unparalleled support and guidance to growth-minded founders via sales strategy differentiation, world-class sales culture creation, and exclusive playbooks, processes, and scripts to position them for limitless growth.

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