Almost a dirty word in many a business since the construct first began to seep into b-schools around four decades back.
I myself suffered the indignity of having my detailed attempts as a cubrep to build a sales office culture of success rebuffed. With the withering denigration, ‘that’s business school nonsense’.
Well, I was right then, and I remain right now.
Culture is the bedrock of a truly, sustainably winning salesforce.
Let’s take a sporting example of the Summer.
The England football team.
With players no better than those preceding them, the current crop have reversed a lifetime of underachievement to reach three semi-finals in three years. Including – for only the second time ever – one final.
We English have continually sent squads expected to merely turn up and win. All the way from Mexico 1970, right through to the most over-rated yet still labelled ‘golden generation’ that could only muster quarter finals.
The typical fan bewildered by the lack of effort, absence of togetherness and unidentifiable plan perceived from within the national side.
The realisation was simply that “we can’t keep doing what we have been doing”.
Those newly tasked with supporting the show behind the scenes accepted this around 2013.
Things had to change.
The one element they felt missing was culture.
This was not just one random aspect either. But the heartbeat of any pursuit aimed at glory which was nowhere to be felt.
In the past, players would even forgo the chance to represent their country because the experience was less than enjoyable.
From being treated less satisfactorily that when at their clubs, to facilities being behind the Premier League curve, and the debilitating lack of spirit from cliques causing rifts between the players (apparently most notably from the Man United vs Liverpool axis).
Well, they could work on a more inclusive club-like approach, ensure they move to a leading edge mentality, and if the Spanish could get over their even more pronounced version of this latter problem (Barca vs Real enmity) to win multiple trophies then surely England could smooth theirs.
Whereas Team England were expected to be world beaters because of the badge, a new focus on England DNA sought to ingrain a joined-up culture of consistent striving for success.
A restructured youth set up (having assessed what championship-winning countries did elsewhere) to bring on the next generation of talent, each playing with a shared philosophy, bore the sweetest of fruits by the stellar 2017 amassing of age-group tournament wins. (Showing the initiative was working.)
High quality staff at the state-of-the-art HQ gave players the belief in nothing taken for granted.
And the (partly fortuitous) arrival of a head coach firmly believing in the path that the players felt genuinely got what they were about and were willing to follow him diligently.
England are now among the favourites for next year’s 2022 World Cup on merit as proper contenders.
Luckily, you don’t need the resources of an international football powerhouse to replicate this approach.
Mindsets cost nothing.
What is it that your sales endeavour is about?
The constantly performing salesteams I encounter all know this.
And the best of the bunch, all link it with their own process.
I have conducted a kind of surreptitious exercise on this for companies.
Almost as an aside, rather than full-blown workshop, asking the sellers to list what they think they stand for when selling, and what their company stands for too.
Just a trio of simple bullets from each member.
The results when collated can induce horror in the bosses.
When too few are on the same page, and even fewer are aligned with where management feel they ought be.
Fixing this is another matter. Yet the key to any attempt at starting this most important of shifts, is to know where you want to go. And with that, you probably already have an inkling as to direction.