Creating a Culture of Positivity
Sales can sometimes be seen as something that’s on a level playing field to everything else, to product, to marketing, et cetera. I don’t necessarily agree with that, because in any of those other jobs, you’re getting told “no” or “this isn’t right” 80 percent of the time. It’s not a positive kind of thing.
Create Culture and Prioritize Sales
One thing I understood from day one is that without a doubt, sales is generally the hardest job in any business. We knew that to make this business successful and to have the great strategy that we wanted, it was all down to sales. One of the most important things we did was to create a culture where everyone knew not only how important sales was, but also prioritized it across the business. I always felt that would help people understand the importance of what we were trying to achieve as a business.
Give Equity in the Business to Employees
There were a few different ways that we achieved that. Five percent of the equity of the business was given out very early. Lots of people worry about giving it away to investors. Obviously you have to do that sometimes, but you’re much better off giving your equity to your employees. They’re going to feel a lot more invested in the business. In the grand scheme of things, if this is a long-term goal for you, then five percent is nothing. Giving it to your employees lets them feel that they’re part of the company and part of the journey, and not just a number.
Then we were completely transparent with everything from day one. What I mean by that is everyone knew the pain immediately. Everyone knew the numbers, or as much as they could. We had Friday morning meetings where everyone knew what we were doing. Everyone knew the sales stories from last week, the pain that was happening, what we were going for. And that wasn’t just sales; that was every department. But there was this culture where everyone felt like there were no skeletons in the closet; everyone knew what was going on. Everyone had a good understanding.
Organize Quarterly Business Updates
Then to put the icing on the cake culturally, from a new employee engagement perspective, we would take a half-day off-site every quarter to do what we called a quarterly business update. That was where the whole business gets together and really takes some time out to take a deep dive. I know that a lot of companies do that annually, and we do it quarterly. It really keeps everyone motivated. It keeps a real pace to the business, a good momentum, because we take that time out to reflect on what was going on. Again, there iss lots of transparency, and every department has a chance to contribute.
Keep the Focus on Sales
Once you add all those things together, it creates the kind of equation, culture, environment—whatever you want to call it—to make that work. At the end of the day, everyone’s business is different, but in most cases, whether it’s Facebook or a restaurant or anything else, if you don’t have sales, you’re going to out of business soon. It’s a pretty important thing to make sure you get right and to keep up the momentum.
About Tom Lavery
Tom Lavery is CEO & Founder of Boston-based startup Jiminny. Jiminny is a sales coaching platform specifically designed for B2B sales. It helps you coach your team more effectively to improve performance and drive success. Jiminny will help you make coaching part of your day to day sales operation.
Previously Tom was on the board at Reward Gateway for five years and was their Global SVP of Sales for 8 years. He has seen them through two MBOs. One for $40m to Inflexion PE in 2010 and for $220m to Great Hill Partners in 2015. He has over 15 years experience in sales and sales leadership and has worked in the U.S, Europe, and Australia.
Tom is also the author of the Sales Shake, a no-nonsense blog that gives sales professionals practical advice you can read today and implement as quickly as tomorrow. He currently lives in Boston with his family and is a huge sports fan who loves soccer and tennis.