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Lipkins: Live Your CU Culture Daily for the Culture to be Successful
Monday, September 14, 2015 6:50 AM

L'areal Lipkins

In her Leadership Conference presentation last week, "Unlock Your Sales Culture," L'areal Lipkins focused on culture, culture, culture! The managing partner at Acuity Systems, Inc. told attendees that managing the culture of the organization is the leader’s #1 job.

"It drives the type of people you hire, how you compensate them, your expectations, and the outcomes you get," she says.

Best-in-class companies have both a strong customer service and sales cultures. Lipkins says the companies that take sales training to increased levels of success are those that focus on people—their motivation, commitment, etc. Once you get the right people with the right skills with the right processes in place, the service culture is ready to adapt to a sales culture.

She defines organizational culture as the values and belief system; their priorities and how they relate to employees; their unified strategy; and their set of understandings, expectations, behaviors, etc.

Culture is an invisible set of attitudes and behaviors that affect everything in your organization, Lipkins says. It's something you should see or feel—it defines who you are, creates loyalty, influences brand, and should drive everything in your organization.

To unlock your sales culture, you have to know where you are now. She asks, what are three to five words that describe where you are now and where you need to be in the future? The best-in-class organizations are intentional about their culture, she explains. They have four or five core behaviors that they commit to and live them every single day; and they have the right people in the right roles, people who are motivated and have great desire and commitment.

Lipkins points to today's emphasis on personal development—the training of skills and techniques and coaching on the personal stuff. But, she asks, are your people actively engaged? Are they just doing a job? Only 26 percent of employees are actively engaged—in other words, actively looking for opportunities to improve the organization.

Leaders should ask these questions of themselves and their organizations:

  • Do we consistently meet and exceed our numbers/goals? Do we get results?
  • Do we hold people accountable or do we let them off? The biggest challenge with accountability is clarity of what we will hold them accountable for. Accountability has to be equal and consistent.
  • Do we have people from a sales perspective who are willing to make the tough decisions, willing to be unpopular, willing to say you’re not cutting it?
  • Sales processes. How successful are we in recruiting people into a sales role?

Lipkins says, "The fish rots from the head down; everything starts with leadership. If you look at organizations that do really well, it starts with leadership. If you look at organizations that don’t do well, again, it’s leadership."

A lot of people confuse culture with policy, Lipkins says. "If I implement a new policy, I have to ensure the right culture is in place to support and execute the policy."

Lipkins recommends that employee coaching take place once a week, 15-30 minutes per session, and that the employee fill out a form prior to the coaching. The caveat is, the employee always drives the agenda. Managers should then identify at least one thing the employee is doing well, one thing they're doing poorly, and then coach the area of poor performance.

She explains the difference between a mentor and a coach. A coach is someone who is actively helping coach specific skills, she says, while a mentor is someone who is preparing the employee for a higher level of performance.

Lipkins advises organizations to create a sales culture that is proactive instead of reactive. Sales is the lifeblood of most organizations, but it can also be the most challenging area for companies to improve.