September 29, 2022
A Sceptic’s Guide to Finding Your Sales Team's Purpose
Today's big idea: To help re-energize your sales team, look beyond the company purpose and focus on Building (or Rebuilding) your Team's Purpose Statement.
I'm skeptical on the topic of Purpose because many organizations and leaders don't even try to live up to the principles they claim to promote. The term has turned into one of those corporate buzzwords. For many companies it has lost all meaning.
Companies now are pushing the idea of Brand Purpose. One influential investor called out this craziness recently by commenting on an earnings call, “A company which feels it has to define the purpose of (their) mayonnaise has in our view clearly lost the plot...”
It seems the business world has once again overindulged on a good idea.
AND IT IS A GOOD IDEA! Surveys suggest that nine out of ten employees are willing to trade a percentage of their lifetime earnings for greater meaning at work. (https://tinyurl.com/42pvx3ry)
Employees want to feel connected and connected employees are engaged employees. Engaged employees are happier and more productive.
Looking beyond the mayonnaise, it's obvious that teams who have a clear and compelling purpose perform better while experiencing lower employee turnover. Any sales leader should seriously consider their team's purpose when looking to improve performance. Energized sales teams spread positive energy to clients. Being excited about what one sells is contagious. Forget the company purpose, focus on the team. This, I believe with all my skeptical heart.
How to Build a Team's Purpose
Get the sales team together, offsite, if possible. This can be done remotely or face-to-face. (One-person teams can also follow these steps.)
1) Admit there is a lot of B.S. out there when it comes to discussing Purpose. Sceptics want to hear both sides of this story so call out the corporations that have let us down. The ones who say they are protecting the environment but get caught polluting. The banks who fund very bad people, the tech companies who mislead their customers and misuse their data. Pick your poison and call out those who ruin corporate purpose. Have this conversation over a plate of mayonnaise sandwiches.
2) Show positive examples of team purpose statements. I've spent a lot of time researching this topic and am happy to report that there seems to be more positive stories here than negative ones. Teams who give back to their communities and leaders who sincerely give a damn are out there. These examples are inspiring and make a grumpy guy like me tear up like Nadal at a Federer retirement party.
3) Define your Team's Values. Team values are a set of beliefs that help determine actions and behaviours. These values should help as you develop your purpose.
- Team Values can include: Creativity, Driving Solutions, Being Helpful, Loyalty, Curiosity, Taking Responsibility, Looking Out for Team Members, Risk-Taking, Teamwork, (for a giant list of value descriptors, email a request to info(at)leadershipnomad.com)
- NOW Come up with 10 words that describe your team's common values.
- Once you have 10, collectively choose the 5 that are most important.
- For each of these 5 words, come up with a short story or reason why this word resonates so closely with the team. These don’t always have to be massive events. Sometimes small moments can help show values. These stories are potentially CORE messaging for customers as well.
- Review these 5 words. Can you group them into categories? For example, Driving Solutions and Being Helpful are similar. Can you articulate why these groupings are important to the group?
The goal for a sales team is to get the group's values to connect with both their company and their customers. Think #symbioticsales.
4) Build the Purpose Statement. As a group or in small groups, answer the following questions:
- What does your team do?
- Who do you help?
- What is the impact we want to make?
Discuss the responses and then map these to the values you created earlier. Now see if you can create a statement. Start with this formula:
Our team (does what) for (who) so that (intended impact)
Example: Our team provides consultative solutions that help CIOs make better decisions faster so they can support their teams across the world.
Interestingly enough some of the most powerful statements focus on the team rather than the client. Teams can have more than one purpose statement.
Example: Our team works together to hit our sales goals while supporting ongoing learning for future career success.
If you have a team purpose you really like, consider including it in your hiring process. Many sales teams ask potential hires to deliver a presentation on their product. Instead, ask them to think about your team's purpose statement and present on how their individual purpose overlaps and why.
Articulating a sincere set of values and purpose statements can re-energize even the most skeptical salesperson and boost performance. Try it out and let me know what you think about this topic!