Three years ago I was sitting at the kitchen counter in Denver with my dad after accepting a job to ship off to Columbus, Ohio. I was to become the sales guinea pig for some obscure start up.“Well I guess you’ll go from drinking the Kool-Aid at Southwestern to being the guy in charge of making the Kool-Aid. Pretty cool.”
Truer words about my job description have never been spoken. For the company to scale and products sell, I would have to contribute to and define the sales culture, aka craft the recipe of the Kool-Aid.
Fast forward three years and that Kool-Aid recipe has helped our company rack up a few major awards – Inc500 winner for fastest growing companies in America, #1 fastest growing company in Central Ohio, Best Places to work in 2013. In 2014 we’ll have over 100 sales reps in major markets as we continue to grow in size and overall production for a homegrown business-to-business salesforce.
A well running sales organization is a thing of beauty when it’s rolling. So how do you create a culture of winning? Adventure and purpose? Opportunity and freedom? Contribution and creativity?
I’ve broken down the recipce to six key ingredients:
Use more ‘carrots’ than ‘sticks’
- As much as managers want to use quotas, minimums and repercussions – most salespeople are more motivated by awards, money, and incentives.
Lead from the front
- No one in leadership is a hired gun who’s never done the job themselves. We’ve been promoted because we’ve excelled and continue to lead from the front line, not managing from afar.
Check egos at the door
- We’ve hired former top producers that have excelled. And others flopped. But we’re always very clear that respect and promotions are earned by what you do here, not your previous job.
Let the scoreboard rule
- We broadcast everyone’s performance and rankings to recognize top producers and make sure you can’t hide from accountability.
Recruit based on character
- Current reps are always the biggest recruiting factor and will either attract or repel candidates. Plus integrity and leadership will appeal to those burned out on corporate culture.
Focus on habits and activity, not results
- Habits and activity always win out over time. They’re controllable and duplicable; final production is not.
Our sales culture is by no means perfect. But it has lead to great results and continues to attract top producers from other companies and become a major asset within our industry.
Like Kool-Aid? Have you been part of a sour sales culture, or one with a delicious recipe? Share the post or comment below:
————————————–About Patrick: I grew up in the small town of Morrison, Colorado where I learned the value of hardwork and knowing the right people (Mom was the mayor!). In 8th grade I started my first business with my buddy Derek – P ‘n D Landscaping. We had business cards, quote sheets and customers until a major drought wiped out most of our clients. I then worked in restaurants through middle school and high school when soccer, studying and extracurriculars would allow. My persistence and inspiration in the classroom landed me a Chancellor’s scholarship at Unversity of Denver to study international business, French, and finance. During my time at DU I interned with a private jet club company, then followed my older brother Ryan’s advice to try a sales internship with Southwestern Advantage. One summer ’try’ turned into four committed years of personal development and organizational leadership throughout my undergrad and MBA. As I interviewed for management consulting or sales careers, I received a phone call from a fellow Southwestern alumnus, Michael Hawk, who asked if I wanted to build a $100M international online marketing company. I jumped on board and packed up an old Subaru to leave beautiful Colorado for Columbus, Ohio. And that journey in life and business continues…