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Culture Over Direction – Insights in Sales Engagement

2 minute read

Richard Cogswell, Author of the new book, ‘The Cultural Sales Leader,’ has worked for numerous startups within the payments industry, sports, advertising, and healthcare sectors. Here are offers his sales engagement insight, including how they are impacted by culture over direction. 

It’s been proven repeatedly that leaders who put “people and culture” at the core of everything they do, not only build organisations to be admired, but they deliver exceptional results in the process. However, more directional, Key Performance Indicator, (KPI,) driven sales engagement is often more common. 

Metrics and KPIs are without doubt an attendant part of any sales function. Which ones are selected and how they are used to drive things, even when certain metrics are used, can have a real impact on the cultural environment, as they show what is uppermost in the sales leader’s mind.

Metric danger

While on the face of it funnel metrics such as number of emails, calls, meetings, and proposals can certainly drive activity, the danger of such an approach that defines “x” number of calls => “x” number of meetings => “x” number of proposals and “x” number of sales, can often drive activity for activity’s sakes. 

Furthermore, top-down messaging is never likely to blossom creativity when it is most needed. At worst, it can produce panic and an impetus to score any deal, no matter whether it's good for the business or not. What you do not want is people working to metrics as opposed to people thinking and acting creatively about their businesses.

Leadership perils

Overall, directional leadership can lead to reduced employee morale, diminished creativity, increased stress, and higher turnover rates, ultimately hindering overall productivity and innovation. The counter point is leadership which focuses on culture, through the lens of a mantra, such as “Behaviours create Culture, leading to Results.” 

This approach focuses on creating a psychologically safe environment, which is positive, supportive, and empowering, though tightly aligned to widely understood organisational values and goals. 

A key part of making this work is to have a very clearly identified and shared mission. This includes defined winning use cases, aligned customer facing departments, openness, and collaboration, and supported, lived values and behaviours, resulting in strong work autonomy and collaboration among team members. 

Enhancing employee motivation

This approach enhances employee motivation, job satisfaction, and productivity, while fostering innovation, stronger team dynamics, and long-term retention. Employees in people-first cultures are more likely to bring their full selves to work, which leads to greater creativity and innovation. They are also more bonded to the mission, meaning they are more likely to go that extra mile in achieving team and organisational goals.

The benefits of culture-led sales leadership over directional micromanaging are clear and compelling. By fostering a supportive, empowering environment, culture-led leaders enhance motivation, performance, and job satisfaction, while building stronger, more adaptable teams. 

Connection over isolation

When considering a culture, it is good that people feel connected to a larger mission than the current financial year in isolation. Over time, the effect you will see is that your team will believe in the longer-term mission and goals. They will also want to stay for it, thereby enriching the overall organisational culture, paving the way for enduring, transformational success.

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