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The Sales Syndicate community was recently treated to a workshop by corporate anthropologist, Michael Henderson.

Michael has a passion for unlocking the true potential of people and organisations. With more than 25 years’ experience working locally and internationally and as the author of 8 books on the subject, Michael knows a thing or two about culture.

Michael shared with us many significant and confronting messages. Most of us have heard the now famous Peter Drucker quote, ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’. But Michael is insistent that in his experience having the right culture is 8 times more important than strategy; particularly so with Sales Teams.

That raises a very good question. If culture is that important, then why don’t we as sales Leaders spend more time developing culture? Is it because we just don’t recognise the value of how important culture is or is it because we don’t know how to go about it?

It turns out that improving our sales culture might be the most important thing we can do. Enhancing sales culture in your company will not only have a significant impact on your team enjoying what they do but also contribute to significant top and bottom line gains.

The number one area where a business needs a positive culture is without doubt sales. Putting it simply you can’t perform at a high level in sales if you don’t have a clear sense of purpose and are not in a great mindset. Both of these qualities are the outcome of having a clear, compelling and meaningful culture.

Here’s a quick summary of some of the main principles Michael shared with us:

  1. You already have a culture in your business and in your sales team. A key question to ask yourself is, has it been developed deliberately & consciously or has it just evolved by “accident” over the years?

  2. You can have the best product, best price, best strategy – BUT your sales team can’t outperform your culture.

  3. Culture is not as simple as the oft quoted “it’s the way we do it around here”. A rich culture taps a deep sense of purpose and being-ness. Culture answers – what do we really care about, how much do we care & how many of us care?

  4. The power & influence of the sales team (culture) will always be way more powerful than the influence of any one individual, even a star performer

  5. You can’t measure Culture; you can only experience it. But you can measure the performance that is impacted by your Culture

  6. Integrate culture and your business strategy so your goals are aligned

  7. Branding & Strategy are vital to achieving success but ultimately it is your culture that delivers the experience your customer has of dealing with your business


Here are some top tips for building a winning Sales Culture

  1. A key question to ask yourself, “is your current sales culture working for you or against you?”

  2. Recognise the importance of culture & choose to invest time developing & working with it. Always be ‘culturing’ – it is the new ‘ABC’ in sales leadership

  3. Create an environment where success and hard effort is applauded & where complaining and lack of effort is not tolerated

  4. Make sure that your team is having fun, keep things light (even when it is serious), and make sure that each one of your sales team knows that ‘you have their back’

  5. See your sales team as a ‘sales tribe’ – they will be human beings before they are salespeople. Understand each of them as individuals; who they are, what interests and motivates them.

  6. Point out examples of your culture, tell your war stories & then ask the all-important question – “are you in?”

  7. Don’t micromanage, provide an environment with a certain level of autonomy

  8. Run sales meetings that add value & create an environment of continuous learning

  9. Be clear in the team goals and be laser like in your approach to achieving them, smash everything that stops your sales team from being successful

In closing, Michael challenged each of us to raise our game as Sales Leaders. Be the example by working harder than your team (‘walk the walk’); understand that performance shifts up and down & that your job as a sales leader is to work out why; believe in the value of the team and most of all be an approachable leader who always acts with humility.

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