At Last, a Sales Culture Maturity Index!

In recent years, TALENTUUM conducted numerous projects during which we observed several deficiencies regarding the sales culture. Here are some examples:

  • Many people believe that business development is only the responsability of vendors or partners.
  • Few organizations encourage and recognize the contribution of their people in the business development process.
  • Presence of one or more “sales prevention” departments of (eg. “Tell your client …”).
  • The sales process is often informal.
  • If it is formal, it is seldom known by those who are not directly involved in sales.
  • Many people do not know when and how they can contribute to the sales process.
  • Sometimes people do not know what their organization sells and who are the buyers.
  • Within many organizations, only few references come from inside the organization.
  • Several organizations have very basic tools to estimate the potential future income (sales funnel).

In addition, a study produced by John Kotter, published in his book Corporate Culture and Performance (1992), clearly indicates that companies having a culture of performance, get much higher financial results than those with no culture of performance. The table below provides some proof:

The birth of an innovative index

Kotter’s results as well as our own research efforts have led to the creation of a unique assessment tool: the SCMI (Sales Culture Maturity Index). Using an online questionnaire, 12 specific dimensions are measured. See table below:

Why measure your SCMI?

Many companies that have submitted their employees (sales, sales support, etc.) to the SCMI questionnaire could quickly identify the dimensions that need improvement. In addition, one of these companies told us about major outcomes obtained after the implementation of some recommendations coming from the SCMI analysis. The table shows examples of actual outcomes:

Such results are common for companies that have used the SCMI to transform their sales culture. If you also want to perform an SCMI analysis to quickly identify areas of strengths, concerns and weaknesses in terms of sales culture, and then transform or improve your sales culture, contact TALENTUUM.

Download the SCMI brochure at

Louis Larochelle
Vice-president Professional Services


3 Reasons Why Your Reps Need You in the Field (Brooks Group, May 2011)

64% of the sales managers we polled in 2010 told us they joined their salespeople on sales calls fewer than six times a year, and half of those said they “very seldom” (once per year) or “never” went out in the field with their salespeople on joint calls. In our seminars and coaching sessions, we often hear sales managers say they “just don’t have time” to get in the field as often as they’d like. Ideally, at least one third of a sales manager’s time should be spent on joint calls—that equates to six to eight business days on the road per month. But company leadership frequently tie up sales managers’ time with conference calls, meetings, and requests for reports.

I’d argue that you don’t have time NOT to get into the field with your salespeople. Joint calls are the single best tool sales managers have in fulfilling their three core responsibilities; they give you most of the information you need to do your job well. If your company’s leadership challenges your need to be out observing your salespeople or you feel you don’t have time to do it, try emphasizing how being in the field lets you achieve the results your company needs:

Core Sales Management Role #1:  Developing strategy.
How joint calls can help…

Being “in the trenches,” face-to-face with your company’s customers, gives you insight into how your company is perceived, how your products and services compare, and what new solutions prospects are seeking. This will allow you to help your company maintain and enhance the value of what you offer to your customers, define new markets, and stay on top of trends. When you observe all of your salespeople regularly in the field, you’ll notice patterns in what they do right…as well as what they do wrong, helping you make decisions about hiring and firing, training opportunities, and territory assignments with 100% confidence.

Core Sales Management Role #2: Communicating regularly about critical sales activities, expectations, and results.
How joint calls can help…

Are you providing ongoing feedback related to the sales activities that directly affect results, and do your salespeople know what those activities are? Are you holding them accountable for the right activities? Sales numbers don’t tell the whole story. What if your highest volume salesperson is sacrificing margin because he or she is intimidated by objections? What if the salesperson who hasn’t met quota for the last three months is sitting on a goldmine prospect but doesn’t realize it?

There’s no substitute for being on sales calls with both your top performers and your worst performers, observing how they handle critical sales activities. Joint calls are a natural environment for communicating with salespeople in a way that’s relevant to their real-world challenges.

Core Sales Management Role #3: Coaching to empower and improve.
How joint calls can help…

While the first part of coaching is providing clear expectations related to goals, measurement, conduct, and priorities; the second part is helping your salespeople make progress toward the goals, measuring their results, observing their conduct, and keeping them focused on priorities (their own and the company’s). Being in the field with your salespeople allows you to do all of those things, plus demonstrates to them that the sales role is important…and that you value the job they do. And when you make coaching points immediately after a sales call, they’re so effective because the experience is fresh in the salesperson’s mind and he or she knows you were fully present during the interaction.

I’m not suggesting you can transform your organization’s approach to sales management overnight. It takes time and demonstrated results to convince your boss, whether it’s a VP or the CEO of the company, that being out regularly and frequently with your salespeople on joint calls is a valuable endeavor. If you’re one of the 64% of managers who rarely join your salespeople in the field, consider making incremental changes to slowly increase the amount of time you invest on joint calls. Keep yourself focused on the three core sales management roles while you make joint calls, and you’re guaranteed to get compelling results.

Your Personal Sales Talent Audit (The Brooks Group, May 2010)

To maximize your talent, you need to identify what talents you really do have. The most successful salespeople in the world are those who are most aware of their strengths. They also know what their shortcomings are and work very hard to (a) recognize them, (b) improve them and (c) avoid relying on them until they have improved them to the point that they became an asset.

Here is a short, self-scoring audit. Please be as honest as you can about yourself. The only way to improve at anything is to have a baseline that says, “I’m good at this and not so good at that.” People who refuse to face the truth rarely improve at anything. And professional selling is all about continuous improvement. Here we go:

How Did you Do?

Let’s take a look at your score and what your score means.

If you had between 18-21 yes answers, congratulations! You’re well on your way to sales success. If you scored less than 14, you might need some help.

Either way, evaluate if there is a particular area or two that you could develop. Sometimes focused attention and improvement in one phase of the sales process can make a big difference in your overall performance.

What do the various questions ask?

Questions 1-6 dealt with the Investigate Step of the IMPACT Selling System. This step involves prospecting, uncover• ing information about your prospects, and the general things you do before you ever get in front of anyone.

Questions 7-8, the Meet Step. This step involves the initial meeting with your prospect and the things you do during • that part of the sale.

Questions 9-10 dealt with the Probe Step. The Probe Step involves asking your prospect targeted questions in order • to determine what type of product or service to present to them.

Questions 11-14 are the Apply and Convince Steps, while questions 15-20 dealt with the Tie-it-up phase of the • process. The Apply Step involves presenting your product or service in a way that satisfies what your prospect really wants, while the Convince Step pertains to proving your claims, handling objections and anything else that comes up. The Tie-it-up Step is the close.

Number 20 was a straightforward question relative to how you feel about sales as a profession.

Depending on how well you did on the audit, you may want to take a look at targeting these specific areas and working on strengthening them.