Every year Forbes publishes its list of the 100 best companies to work for in the United States. They look at several factors including how many people are employed by the company, employee satisfaction, employee pay and equity, how frequently employees get promoted within the company, and other questions. But one of the most important things they measure is transparency.
Even though this is an article pertaining to sales, it applies to any type of business out there as there are many reasons why transparency is vital to have in a workplace environment. Transparency, in regards to your business, means being able to have a clear understanding of what’s being done. When it comes to the workplace, transparency gives individuals the opportunity to better understand how their work will be valued.
Why is transparency important in the sales workplace?
Transparency is the cornerstone of any relationship. It creates trust and respect. For sales teams, you need to make sure they know what they need to succeed. Being able to track their progress gives them a clear view of what’s going on and helps you check in on them as needed. When everyone has a chance to see what’s going on, they feel more invested in the process and see the value in it.
Transparency is important in every workplace, but it is essential at sales jobs. Why?
The answer is that transparency makes trust possible. Trust is crucial to sales, both internally and externally. David Jacoby writes: “Trust is essential to successful selling. When the buyer trusts you, the buyer believes your promises, gives you access, takes your advice, and gives you referrals. A buyer won’t buy from your sales teams unless he or she trusts you.”
What can a company do to improve transparency and visibility?
All companies try to improve their sales performance, but some do a better job than others of letting employees know what's expected of them and letting them track their performance. Transparency and visibility are closely related. Employees want transparency because it helps them judge how they're doing and keep a track of their progress. And they want visibility because it makes them feel they have a stake in the company.
Transparency and visibility are especially important in a sales workplace. Salespeople are on the front lines, and they are often close to customers and customers' problems. If customers don't trust the salespeople, they are unlikely to buy. When salespeople feel that the company they work for is transparent, their actions will also reflect transparency and they will build long-lasting relationships with the customers. Salespeople also need visibility because they often spend much of their day working alone. Being able to tell when they have done the right thing and how well they have done it helps them stay motivated.
There are three important techniques for increasing transparency and visibility in a sales workplace:-
1. First, companies should develop goals and performance standards for salespeople, and give them a way to track their performance against those goals.
2. Second, they should let salespeople know how they are doing by publishing reports. A sales report doesn't have to be fancy, but it should clearly state what goals the company expects salespeople to reach, and how salespeople are doing towards them.
3. Finally, companies should let salespeople know how they are doing with customers by publishing reports showing how customers feel about salespeople and how well they are meeting their needs.
Do you think Sales incentives need transparency?
A sales incentive plan is a business tool. Like a hammer, a wrench, it has a purpose. It can help a sales organization hit its goals or, worse, drive it astray. It should, therefore, be as simple as possible. It should be easy for the sales team to understand and follow.
It should, in other words, be transparent.
But most sales incentive plans are not transparent. They are full of jargon, rules, and restrictions. They make it difficult for the sales force to understand them, or for them to meet any reasonable definition of performance. Also, in many organizations, managers distribute compensation in a manner they control. They decide who is promoted and who is demoted. They decide how teams are staffed, who gets which projects, who gets what bonuses. This can create a situation in which visibility and transparency are little more than buzzwords. Therefore, Salespeople need transparency because they need to know what the company is doing. Salespeople need transparency because they need to know if they are doing things right. Salespeople need transparency.
Few tips for the Sales Managers to improve transparency
Here are a few tips for the sales Managers or leaders on how to improve transparency:-
1. Managers shouldn't always be saying "no". Instead, managers should share information more often and create an environment that is conducive to sharing information.
2. Managers should treat salespeople as colleagues, not as employees. This doesn't mean expecting them to act as managers. It means treating them like people.
3. Managers should praise their team members for sharing information.
4. Managers should publicly accept if they commit mistakes and encourage their teams to do so.
5. Managers should discuss with salespeople the standards they expect of them. 6. Managers should recognize that salespeople are very good at understanding their own strengths and weaknesses.
The most successful salespeople I know are comfortable with uncertainty, and willing to take risks. They understand that uncertainty is part of selling, and that the best way to deal with this uncertainty is transparency. They are not shy about sharing what they know, and about what they don't know. They know that transparency makes everyone smarter. Measured against the years they have spent in sales, every salesperson I know is a beginner. They are still learning, still refining their approach to uncertainty. But they have a head start. They know that the key to success is learning as much as they possibly can from the experience of others. They know that the key to learning is transparency.
The most successful salespeople are obsessed with learning, and so are their customers. They know that the best way to get customers is by making them think you have the answer to whatever problem they are trying to solve. The first step toward solving a problem is to recognize that there is a problem. The first step toward solving a problem is transparency.
So, in the end, isn't this what it is all about? Isn't it all about learning? Isn't it all about transparency?