Promoting your company culture can have a direct influence on your sales and it is essential that you understand how to articulate it.
One of the first things I explain to my business mentoring clients is that each and every component of a business is interconnected and has a direct role to play in the overall drive for sales.
Too many businesses, even the largest ones operate in silos and they do not work together optimally and seamlessly for the overall benefit of the company and I talk here from my own experience with my own companies as well as some of the companies I mentor.
Take the example of the sales and marketing business functions:
In reality, the two functions have the same objective, but they get there in different ways — I remember the in-fighting between these two functions in a software company that I co-founded and where the two teams would spend hours in meetings debating who should be the first to follow-up on leads that were generated from campaigns, among other issues.
The marketing team wanted to hand them straight over and the salespeople wanted them to be qualified.
It made for some interesting discussions at board meetings, to say the least.
Human resources (HR) is a business division that can be seen as an “internal” organization from the perspective of many employees and even some board members of companies.
If left to its own devices then HR can be an internal, reactive business function that never gets involved with external customers and the dynamics those customers create with the day-to-day problems and challenges they throw at the company.
I had seen this when I was running my global technology staffing company and you would think that providing specialist staffing services would fall directly under the remit of HR which it did, but I avoided this business function like the plague!
It was not that I had anything against the division, but one purely about decision-making.
I wanted to talk to the most senior executives who had to deal directly with their end-user customers and who could make fast decisions relating to the services that I offered — I could also work proactively with these senior executives and start to deliver future-ready solutions and way ahead of the competition.
If I had taken the HR route then I would have to wait for the information to filter down to the division and then wait for my solutions to work there way back up in order to get a decision, which in many cases would have come too late!
HR is a very powerful business function that I believe should be more customer-facing and this would give the people that work in the division the chance to showcase their talents and to explain to customers how talent is attracted, developed, and managed in relation to the end result of giving the customer the best possible solutions, service, and overall experience.
Human resources should and could have a much more powerful role in sales.
Don’t worry if you are a start-up, operate as a one-man-band, or simply have a small team without a formalized HR function, it doesn’t matter…it’s far more important that you understand the sentiment of what I am talking about and you will naturally increase your business functions as you expand.
The power of recruiting
Take a look at this article talking about job adverts that make you want to apply.
And imagine if you were a customer of these companies — would the adverts influence your opinion about the company?
I believe they do.
Sitting down at the hotel bar after dinner with a European client, I was asked the question that seems to tie many people up in knots…at least in their own minds:
“Why are you different from the other suppliers that want our business.”
This guy had more of a reason to ask because my company did not operate in his country and I had approached him from a cold call.
Our dinner was extremely pleasant and I had done my research on his company so everything was set up nicely.
My answer to his question was simple — I explained that at face value, my company was no different from any other in the market; our services were similar, as was our pricing.
But, the difference came down to my philosophy, the vision I had for the industry and my passion to execute against that vision.
Now I had created a separation between my competitors and me, even though they were just words…I now had to follow with something more tangible.
I explained my business and entrepreneurial philosophy as well and how I had admired military strategy and the development of special forces soldiers who could operate in small teams with each person being a specialist in their own right, but when they operate as a team those skills combine to create a powerful and formidable force.
I further explained that I didn’t want to become the biggest staffing agency or to have to hound customers to find out what vacancies they had, it was all a matter of gaining the right market and customer intelligence, being pro-active and working in anticipation to predict future problems, challenges and then design and deliver services in relation to them.
And that I wanted to grow my company by hiring only the best people and offer a specialist, customized service.
I could see his face change and his interest climbing — he now proceeded to help me with my recruiting strategy by offering me advice and tips based on his own experiences of trying to do the same when building his own division within his company.
That experience taught me a very valuable lesson and it shifted the focus from my overt, deliberate sales drive to a more subtle one and one where I could start to impart my own philosophy into the process and one part of that philosophy was to establish the right company culture…the right one for me at least.
Putting HR into action
Later in my business career, I had the opportunity to present at the board level, to a major international concern in Asia.
The solutions we presented were both software and people-driven and if we won the account it would have required the recruiting of local talent to support service delivery, which meant getting the head of HR involved to travel over and start the ball rolling.
But in addition to the obvious function, I made sure the person was at each customer meeting, starting with the first one with the CEO and then the subsequent meetings with the leadership team.
Only by understanding the challenges and pressures, the client was under and how we as a company were there to help and remove them could the HR head understand the type of people we would need to hire, and also they were able to describe the culture we had created as part of the overall selling process to everyone in the meetings.
The experience proved to me how invaluable it was to focus on leveraging the total capability of the company, rather than simply focussing on sales.
There is a misconception in business that each business function is a profit center in its own right…bear with me on this because at face value it would seem totally true and should be encouraged by all business leaders.
But for me, this only serves to increase the problem of operating in silos.
I have tried this approach in the past and that is exactly what happened — each function was actually competing with others in an order to prove who was more profitable and better. Whereas in reality, those functions should be joining forces to compete against competitors and with the ultimate aim of serving the customer.
I should have pulled these divisions together and made sure they were playing the part of the overall profit center.
Getting back to the original point of this article — your own recruiting policies can definitely help you drive sales if you are able to articulate them and in relation to your overall company culture.
Be proud of what you are trying to create and make sure you tell the world about it!
If you want to talk about this more, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.
Last modified: November 1, 2020