Creating a Sales Culture

What does the word “combat” have in common with creating a sales culture? The word “combat” in any context sounds harsh, right?  As a result, when I speak at senior living conferences, I am frequently asked to change the title of my presentation, “Selling at Combat Speed,” because the word “combat” seems too harsh.  Therefore, allow me to explain how a personalized sales training coupled with accountability tools like mystery shopping can create a sales culture throughout your organization.

Train as you Fight

First of all, I have never known an organization that trains and prepares individuals the way the U.S. military does.  As a result, a soldier is trained to act without thinking. Wow, did I really just say that?  You see, in a life or death situation, if a soldier has to stop and think about the training he received, he may lose his life or cause the loss of other lives.  But we are talking about salespeople in Corporate America, not soldiers . . . right?  Correct! But whether you are in combat, Corporate America, or professional sports, the same methodology for creating a sales culture applies.

Muscle Memory

If a wide receiver has to stop and think about all the tasks involved in making a catch, he will more than likely miss the ball. Furthermore, he may not even see the ball coming at him.  If a golfer has to think about the mechanics that go into a perfect swing, his golf shot will be as inconsistent as mine.  If a salesperson has to stop and think about the steps of the sales process or the questions he needs to ask, he will not be focused on the prospect, but on what he is going to say next.  In any profession, to perform effectively, we have to commit these processes to muscle memory.  They must become habits. We should not have to think about them.  They should just happen.  That’s what it means to sell at combat speed.

To create a sales culture, salespeople in the senior living industry need to take ownership of the sales process.  As a result, we will follow the core steps of the sales process, while making it unique – to suit his or her personal style.  How does this happen?

Lose the Scripts

First of all, trainers need to lose the scripts.  The training should focus on a core process with reinforced coaching resulting in the development of a unique sales process based on that salesperson’s style.  The questions that I feel comfortable asking could make you very uncomfortable when you ask. Consequently, ninety-nine percent of the time, a salesperson will not ask a question that makes him or her uncomfortable.  But we can change the way we ask the question to gather the same information.    Asking the right question at the right time requires skill, even more so if the question that needs to be asked takes the salesperson out of the comfort zone.

Accountability is not an Option

Second, accountability needs to be in place.  If your organization cares enough to invest in implementing a sales process, then you need to care even more about accountability of your sales team.  Successful organizations manage accountability by implementing goals.  For that reason, managers work with the team to establish mutually agreed upon goals  – and the entire team is accountable for meeting those goals.

Measure your Success – Mystery Shopping

Above all, you need to have a system in place that identifies the strengths and opportunities of each salesperson.  You can’t expect it if you don’t measure it.  The most cost-effective tool to identify coaching opportunities is mystery shopping.  A comprehensive mystery shopping program will include web, phone, and in-person shops.  Read more about “Mystery Shopping Statistics in the Senior Living Industry.”

These first three steps will get you started in the right direction in creating a sales process that allows for creativity and innovation.  Furthermore, to become a master of your trade, you must commit to continually refining your skills.  Those skills need to be practiced until they become part of your subconscious and you no longer have to “stop and think” about the sales process.  Consequently, the process becomes part of who you are.  This is what it means to sell at combat speed.


This is an excerpt from the book “Stop Selling and Start Caring.”  CLICK HERE to purchase your copy of “Stop Selling and Start Caring.”  If you would like to order an autographed copy, CLICK HERE.

Primo Solutions, LLC is the largest provider of mystery shopping in the senior living space.  We specialize in Independent Living, Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing, Memory Care, Rehabilitation, Respite Care, and Home Health.

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