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Building Culture To Increase Profits

Did you know that when you lose a salesperson, it costs you four times what you paid that person during their employment? These costs include not only salary, but benefits, lost sales/profits, time of management support, training costs and, in many cases, lost market presence and bad company image with repeated new salespeople calling on the same accounts. (If you want the entire formula, send me an e-mail at [email protected] and I will send it to you)

A recent Wall Street Journal column showed a graph depicting the level of discontent among workers who are "seriously considering leaving their jobs." They surveyed 2,400 workers and compared a study from 2005 to 2010 showing the percentages of discontent.

Ages                2005                2010
25-34               25%                 40%
35-44               24%                 33%
45-54               20%                 28%

These numbers bring up two significant points. One, as the economy gets better and more jobs open up, plan and expect to lose people. Two, why should people be discontented?

As readers of this blog should know, my answer to the first is to build an ongoing sales recruiting program. The second issue is more challenging, but the answer is critical to sales leaders, creating a positive culture of high performance. In many of my keynote programs, I discuss the need for leaders to "align the soul of the individual with the goals of the organization." This means that the leader must know the individual goals of each person and then show that person they can achieve their personal and professional objectives by helping the organization achieve its goals. If the salesperson wishes to purchase a boat, show them how they can earn the extra commissions to pay for the boat. (Hint: Create a poster with a picture of that boat with a bar chart that reflects the sales goals required to hit the required cost of the boat.) If their goal is a college fund for their children, you should know that as well.

In addition to the personal skills required by sales leaders, you need to create the atmosphere where you reinforce belief in your organization. Focus on building success stories on where your product/service has greatly benefited your client base and share them at least quarterly.

Next, are you creating a fun atmosphere? An office where people enjoy each other, laugh, share ideas, talk about their lives and work together for the common good is essential. One idea I have recommended at this time of the year is to have your sales team and/or management team cook a picnic lunch for all your employees. Make it a once-a-month event during the summer -- it's a way to say "Thank you." Create a theme, allow the president or others to give a short talk about positive events within the company and then, at the end, rally everyone to "get back to work!"

Focus on building a culture where your salespeople are earning top commissions; expectations for high performance are set; discipline, accountability and control are in place; and a positive environment is a priority. Your turnover will drop and your profitability will soar.

If you have other ideas on building culture, please post them below and let's build a library of ideas.

Posted by Ken Thoreson on July 01, 2011