Every sales teamn has a "culture" that defines how employees are supposed to behave. The easiest way to understand that culture is to examine the metaphors that team members habitually use. For example, sales reps who constantly compare business to a "battlefield" will react more vigorously (and perhaps precipitously) to a competitive threat, compared with sales reps who tend to view business as a "playing field."
Here's how to assess your sales team's culture in about 30 seconds.
INSTRUCTIONS: For each question, pick the ONE answer that you think most team members would say "feels right." Keep a running total of the points for the answers you selected.
QUESTION 1: On my team, business is seen as:
- ...A battlefield. (ADD 1 points)
- ...An ecosystem. (ADD 2 points)
- ...A game. (ADD 3 points)
- ...Controlling employee behavior. (ADD 1 points)
- ...Managing based on events. (ADD 2 points)
- ...Coaching employee behavior. (ADD 3 points)
- ...The enemy. (ADD 1 points)
- ...The other team. (ADD 2 points)
- ...Potential partners. (ADD 3 points)
- ...Avoidable. (ADD 1 points)
- ...Inevitable. (ADD 2 points)
- ...Desirable. (ADD 3 points)
- ...Fear. (ADD 1 points)
- ...Greed. (ADD 2 points)
- ...Vision. (ADD 3 points)
- ...Troops. (ADD 1 points)
- ...Children. (ADD 2 points)
- ...Associates. (ADD 3 points)
SCORING: You now have a number from 6 to 18 that reflects your corporate culture. The easiest way to evaluate that number is to look at the extreme cases, where the number is either very low or very high.
Companies that score low (6 to 10) tend to be highly traditional. They generally have strong chains of command and a well-defined way of getting things done. They are often quite aggressive in the marketplace. Because they tend to demonize the competition and look at other organizations with suspicion, they often find it difficult to partner with other firms. Employees and managers alike tend to "hard-nosed." There is often little tolerance for personal lives. Managers who bully are seldom fired and often promoted. There is probably a corporate "uniform" that almost every wears.
Companies that score very high (14 to 18) tend to be highly innovative. They tend to have looser management structures. It's often not entirely clear, even to employees, exactly how things get done. They are as quick to compete as to partner with other firms. However, they can focus when confronted with a determined competitive threat. They are more likely to have female executives in positions of real power and may have relatively generous family-oriented employee benefits. Managers and employees socialize with fair frequency. There is generally more flexibility in what people wear to work.
Most companies score somewhere in the middle (11 to 13). Such firms are always a combination of elements borrowed from traditional and innovative firms. In most cases, these firms are slowly gravitating towards one end of the poll. For example, many Silicon Valley firms were originally quite high on the scale, but over the past two decades have gradually tended towards the low end. In other industries (media, for instance), the trend has been the other way.