(Note: Since there are numbers of comments, you may want to read a copy of this post on LinkedIn.)
I hosted best-selling author, Mike Weinberg, the other day for a powerful and memorable webinar about dysfunctional sales management. At one point during our discussion, I brought up the powerful cultural message: “Sales Eats First.”
Recalling that imperative brought me back just a few years…
I don’t hear the phrase “sales culture” very much any more. That’s too bad. In the past, that phrase was most commonly used in two situations:
First, by venture capitalists who were determining if a CEO in whose company they were considering investing had the orientation and experience to support sales to the extent that it would drive the company’s growth at a predictable and significant rate. There was always a danger, especially with tech companies. Founders too often depended on product innovation to drive sales and paid little attention to the sales function, as in “the product will sell itself.” (I’m certainly willing to admit that Apple and Tesla survived rather well using that model.)
The second situation related to high-performing sales people who wanted to understand whether the companies they were interviewing with and considering had a sales culture. They wanted to be sure that they would be empowered, not inhibited, in their selling efforts.
When I think sales culture I think Larry Ellison and Oracle. I think Marc Benioff and Salesforce.com. Whom do you think of?
I also think back to Kevin Madden and Joe Puishys at Honeywell Building Solutions (HBS)… I first heard the phrase “sales eats first” at a President’s Club meeting in San Diego where I presented to HBS’s top salespeople. Kevin Madden (VP World Wide Sales at Honeywell Building Solutions) and Joe Puishys (former President of Honeywell International, and now CEO and President at Apogee) each spoke as well. It was Joe who talked about what “sales eats first” meant to him and the future success of Honeywell. Kevin was beaming, having the unqualified support of his boss. I was beaming as well.
(Honeywell Business Solutions, under yet again, strong, new leadership are featured in a case study in Steve Andersen’s and my book, Beyond the Sales Process. In fact, Sean Mahoney, VP of Sales, Honeywell Americas, was a panelist at a recent event Steve and I facilitated. HBS is a Performance Methods, Inc. client.)
The following is a quote from an 2007 article by Joe Kornik in Sales & Marketing Management Magazine about Joe and Kevin.
“One of the defining moments [of a cultural turnaround] was when Joe spoke for the first time in front of the sales team,” Madden says. “He stood in front of the troops, and he said ‘I’m going to tell you right here and now—sales eats first.’ It sounds simple, but that declaration completely changed how we played the game.
That’s what I’m talking about.
I’m not sure why having a sales culture either isn’t talked about very much anymore or it isn’t seen as the positive thing it is. Come back to me in a comment with your views on the importance of a sales culture. I’m really interested in your opinions and experiences.
Photo credit: © Alexander Raths – Fotolia.com