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Sales Strategy
SalesProChat Transcription: "The Impact of Cultural Genetics on Sales"
Aug 30, 2017 | Canadian Professional Sales Association lock

In the August 2017 SalesProChat episode, Charlie Judy talks with host Bill Banham about the cultural DNA of organizations and the impact on Sales. Bill Banham and Charlie consider ways to get at the genetic code of companies and how the data can have big positive impacts on sales.

Charlie Judy is CEO at WorkXO, a company which uses a groundbreaking model to measure workplace culture, a powerful set of tools to analyze it, and a proven system to turn your culture into a differentiator. 

Listen to the CPSA’s two-part interview with Charlie Judy and Join us August 31 for our monthly #SalesProChat Twitter chat.

salesprochat - cultural genome

Listen to part one.

Read the transcription of part one: 

Bill Banham: What if you could identify the makeup of your organization and use it to spearhead new initiatives underlying goals for your sales teams? In the August SalesProChat, I talked with an expert who says you can just that. Listen to this show as Charlie Judy discusses the idea and the implications of mapping the workplace genome and how it can help increase your bottom line.

Charlie Judy is CEO at WorkXO, a company, which uses ground-breaking models to measure workplace culture and ways to turn company culture into a differentiator. Charlie co-founded DisruptHR in Chicago, and he is a well-known speaker. His most well-received sessions include Cultural Intelligence, Not Workforce Analytics, Simplifying Human Resources, and Get Out of the Way and Let Your Employees Lead. Here's the first of a two-parting for you.

Charlie Judy, welcome to the August edition of the SalesProChat Show.

Charlie Judy: Thank you so much! Bill, thanks for having me on. I'm really glad to be here. 

Bill Banham: We're going to start straight away with a big question, Charlie. Why is it important, do you think, to sales teams that their company aligns their work culture with what drives their organization success?

Charlie Judy: Yeah. I think this is one of the biggest questions facing, maybe the most important questions facing the workforce, the world at work, at large these days. It's a new way of thinking about how we get work done, and I think, frankly, we've been missing it. You have a set of drivers that will determine your success, however you define that. It is likely that those drivers are unique and distinct to your team, and to what it is you're trying to accomplish, and what it is that you're facing. If the culture that you've created around it, so for me and for us that's all about the words, the actions, the behaviors, the stuff that you can touch and feel, if those things don't really clarify and reinforce what it is that drives your success, then you very simply have misalignment. You have a contradiction. You have redundancy or overlap or confusion. You have missed opportunity, sub-optimization, etc. because those things aren't all pushing each other in the right direction. 

It's very important to get clear about what distinctly is going to drive your success, and then to make sure that you're reinforcing it and clarifying it every turn so that it is form of mind to not only you, your sales team, but everybody else that relies upon that sales team.

Bill Banham: You've done talks and your company is very focused on this concept of a workplace genome. Can you explain the concept of company DNA and why this is important to the performance of the company, and specifically, its sales-focused employees?

Charlie Judy: We've spent a lot of time and have where we last a couple of decades trying to get better at understanding our workforce. We've put some measures in place and we do some surveys and we are, I think, getting better at collecting data on our workforce. What we're not really getting better at is doing anything with it, and there are a number of reasons for that. The biggest reason in my mind is that we are still measuring things like employee sentiment, how you feel about work or how our employees feel about work. What we're really not doing is understanding at a more intricate and nuanced level how we work. What again are the behaviors and the actions that are driving how we get stuff done? 

If we can't understand it at that root level, the genetic level, just why I kind of referred to it as the workplace genome, it's really getting at the root level how you behave and act in the workplace; then you can start solving for those individual behaviors and actions. Then you can start saying, does this first of all sound like who we are, and then does it sound like who we need to be? Now we're not just talking about outcomes, i.e., how I feel or how happy I am or how engaged I am, but we're talking about drivers. Getting to the DNA is really about the drivers, not the outcomes.

Bill Banham: OK. What does a sales team do with those drivers? How do they interpret that, and then perform better, become more successful sellers?

Charlie Judy: Let's start sales team by understanding what are the behaviors and actions that are necessary to drive your success. What are the things that are going to reinforce and clarify what drives your success? As an example, if it is crucial that everybody on that team has visibility to what everybody else is doing, and that visibility is not about maybe quantity of information but quality of information, and at the right time and then the right places, then you need to start understanding whether or not those things are happening. That's a behavioral thing. That's an operational thing. It's a functional thing. It doesn't really care how you feel about that. It doesn't really matter how you feel about that. It matters whether or not those things are happening.

It is about understanding which of those behaviors are leading to optimized sales and then making sure that you're understanding whether or not those are showing up.

Bill Banham: How can companies dig into the analytics and identify the key cultural priorities?

Charlie Judy: It starts with awareness, and I think that's where our organizations fall down all time. We don't take the time to really understand what is. We take the time to try to figure out whether or not we're fitting into some kind of pre-ordained notion of best place to work or employer of choice, and all of those concepts are really interesting. Again, when you start breaking it down to the individual level, so for the sales team, what constitutes the best place to work for a really bang-up, leading edge sales leader, sales BD manager, even a guy that's picking up the phone and knocking on doors. Those are different prospects. Those are different environments, potentially. They are certainly different relationships, motivators, drivers, aspirations, etc. If we can start unlocking what's happening at that individual team level, and what's going to drive, again, the success of that particular team, then we can start getting serious about whether or not this is the right kind of stuff.

Bill Banham: Why do companies and sales employees need to get intentional about aligning culture with what drives an organization success?

Charlie Judy: It's hard work. It's complex. It's moving. It's constantly evolving. It's constantly being touched on and affected by any person that really enters, walks through experiences your organization. We're learning that organizations that take the time to focus on get methodical about, even establish clearer objectives, deliverables, and points of accountability, or sustaining and/or growing a culture in a way that will drive success are those organizations are finding heck of a lot more measurable results, like growth and net promoter score, and other things that really add immediate value to your organization. You can let a culture grow organically. I promise that most organizations do that. If you do that, however, you are at risk of letting that culture grow into something you don't need it to be, or want it to be for that matter. It has to be nurtured. It has to be cultivated. It has to be given time and attention. There are organizations that are literally putting roles, distinct, explicit roles aside for culture. These are people that are now investing in and putting energy towards monitoring, and constantly and intentionally working towards building that culture that works.

Bill Banham: Let's consider a company that's built their cultural playbook, to borrow a term from WorkXO, and they're ready to take action. What does that look like?

Charlie Judy: That sits in the kind of the last question around getting intentional. Whether you call it a playbook or an action plan or just a set of priorities, you should be explicit about that, and you should be sharing them with all of your stakeholders. These are the things that we believe, in our culture, will help us drive our success. It's important that we all line up against that, but then stay beholden to it. In order for that to happen, we're going to do X, Y and Z. One of the mistakes organizations make all the time, whether we're talking about culture or other things, and certainly, other people-related manners is that they try to blow the ocean, and they try to fix everything in this holistic way. It doesn't work in most environments. It certainly doesn't work in most business functions. 

We've actually borrowed and learned a lot from how software developers get stuff done. We really like the agile software development principles in getting intentional about culture. Those principles, we certainly don't have the time obviously to talk about those, but it means we're going to prioritize, and we're going to understand the things at the top of that list that is going to have the most immediate and hopefully lasting impact on our culture, on our organization, and those are the things we're going to focus on first. In fact, we may just focus on one thing at a time, and we're OK with that because we're about moving the needle; we're about demonstrating commitment; we're about demonstrating progress, and we're about demonstrating results. 

All too often, organizations get data, they talk about it, they may be even getting excited about it, and they all have ana idea about what they want to do about it, but then it goes up on the shelf because other priorities get in the way. You've got to have a methodology that allows you to take this action plan, which you've now committed to the world on, and you start chipping away at it. That's what kind of moving it from ideation to analytics to action and to results is all about.

Bill Banham: Perfect. Thank you. Numbers of course without context are meaningless. How can sales teams align data point with a distinct storyline around how individuals in a sales team really work? The actions, the behaviors, the tangible stuff that sales persons experience?

Charlie Judy: You got to give them that language. We're talking about people, and we're talking about behaviors, and we're talking about human interactions, which are dynamic and have lots of layers to them. I think it's unfair; it's even a little patronizing for the models of the world today that try to sum up an employment experience or a career experience into one number. Go to Glassdoor. Glassdoor has lots of great things that they're offering. If you try to judge an experience or a culture based on one number, you cannot get the context that you need to draw your own conclusions, let alone to fix or to identify, even change that need to be fixed.

What does 3.5 mean? I don't really know. You need language behind that. You need to go to an exercise, your sales team needs to go to an exercise to understand. Alright, let's talk about when we say we need to be transparent, what does that mean? Transparency is a big word. It can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Again, we have to describe what does that look like, what does that sound like, what does that feel like. How do I know that that's happening? Now I can start to hold ourselves accountable to that. I cannot hold ourselves accountable to a 3.5 in transparency and we need to be a 3.7. It doesn't give me anything to work with. Put your own language behind it. Put your own context and color behind it. That can be a group activity, be a team activity. That can be a bottom up or a top down. It doesn't really matter as long as you have a dialogue around or some sort of discovery process.

Bill Banham: OK. Now let's get the grips with the gaps and the priorities. Sales teams, of course, need results and often they need them fostered in other departments. That means that they need to focus on what's driving their organization success, and what might be getting in the way of more of it. Talk to us a bit about the benefits of being a trajectory map as one of these tools. Can they, for example, help highlight things about your culture that impacts performance and the bottom line?

Charlie Judy: Without getting into the science behind some of the tools that we use, here's the easiest way for really any organization to think about it. I like reverse engineering. I like to find the one or two or three, depending on the size of your organization, obviously, or your sales team, find those people that are really most successful. Again, you define that success, whether that's rainmaking, numbers generation or just long lasting relationships. Whatever those things are, figure out who those people are, understand how they work, and also understand how they experience work. When it comes to things like how are decisions made, how do they fix stuff that may be broken in their mind, how do they get the resources that they need; again, that's not just about do they get the resources that they need, because chances are that they do; it's about how do they go about doing that. 

Here's how I do it, I walk down this hall, I talk to this person, whatever the case may be. You can create an archetype for the successful culture in your organization. If for whatever reason other people in that same organization or on that same sales team aren't experiencing that culture the same way, then they're missing something that's going to drive their success. Figure out how to get it to them. That's kind of this carve out the things that we know work and let's make sure everybody gets access to that same kind of experience.

Bill Banham: Well that just leads me to say, Charlie Judy, thank you for being the guest on this SalesProChat episode.

Charlie Judy: Thanks for having me. I really enjoyed it!

Bill Banham: Until next time, happy selling.

Listen to part two.

Read the transcription of part two: 

Bill Banham: Charlie Judy, welcome to the August edition of the sales pro chat show. 

Charlie Judy: Thank you so much Bill, thanks for having me man. Really glad to be here. 

Bill Banham: One of the benefits that I love about mapping a companies cultural DNA is, it could potentially help to identify current unsung brand advocates, and vitally, identify others at our company who could be supported by the organization to help spread the message to new outside audiences, which could then filter back in as new sales opportunities perhaps. Talk to us a little bit about how the lessons and the data ... to get in maybe bigger organizations where these folks may otherwise get missed; talk to us about how that data helps identify those people. 

Charlie Judy: I really like the employee net promoter score. I think ...I'm not going to make any crazy claims here but, I believe that measure in and of itself it's going to become much more prominent in how we think about the workplace experience. I think it's going to become much more prominent in how we measure the success of our workforce. And I think it's a great number of a leading indicator than it is a lagging indicator. But what it says, just as your sales teams are familiar with net promoter in the sense of external market, and customer service and client satisfaction; I mean it really says the same thing about your internal workforce. That's really all about, obviously, an employee's intent to stay committed with the organization. The level to which they are productive. And the degree to which they're out there physically and vocally championing ... becoming a champion for your brand. 

All of those things add value to your organization. So again, if you can find out who those people are and understand how they are experiencing work, and then create that kind of experience for others in the organization, chances are you are going ... and we have a lot of data, by the way that supports this. There's really strong correlations between cultural experience and net promoter. If you can again, reverse engineer that, you can start to spread that experience and you can start to create the kind of promoters that you're looking to create. By the way, you've got to do that at the right level. So you cannot necessarily just look at that at the organizational level. As we just talked about in your last question; you may have to look at, what is the net promoter look like on the sales team, versus what they look like on the finance and accounting team?

It's possible that they look different entirely. They're there to do different things, they're there to accomplish different stuff. They have a different set of aspirations and motivators; and understanding what those things are is going to be really important to kind of replicating that or trying to share it with the broader audience. 

Bill Banham: Okay. Now one thing that we talk about a lot on the sales pro chat show is the power of authenticity. How does understanding the values and goals of a company help sales people to sell more authentically?

Charlie Judy: There is increasing value to authenticity in the world at large. People buy from people who they want to buy from and or work with. And, a lot of that's about authenticity. It's about trust. It's about the sense that what I'm getting is what they say I'm getting. And that the experience I'm going to have is very much like the experience I'm having with this person right here, right now. The representative of this organization, its product, its people. So, I think organizations have to start getting a lot more comfortable with really sharing, again, the context and the color that's going to help their stakeholders, whether we're talking about internal or external, know what it's really like to work there. Or really what that culture is like. And that doesn't mean open kimono, it doesn't mean that you have to share everything and anything. But let's face it, every organization has its things that it would like to do differently, they aren't necessarily proud about. 

It doesn't even have to be about sharing those things. It has to be about sharing, again, those things that really matter to them, and putting the context and the color around it so people can understand with that beyond some buzz word or statement or shared cliché that you find on everybody's website. Find a way to talk about who you are and what you do, in a way that nobody else is doing that. That in and of itself leads to authenticity. 

I can understand that you've taken some time to really think about who you are, what you do, why it matters; because, I've never heard anybody talk about it this way. That's kind of where you start to get that authenticity, is really putting the right color and context behind it. 

Bill Banham: Maybe another place that you can start to get that authenticity actually happens in the recruitment phase? Finding those ... 

Charlie Judy: No question.

Bill Banham: So yeah, finding those sales folk who genuinely identify with your company brand, products and services for the right reasons, okay. So, how can companies use their work based genome to shape their recruitment strategy so that they can attract those sales and business development pros who can fit with the company ethos and can make a difference to the bottom line?

Charlie Judy: If I can take the time to understand how it is that we work culturally, and I can put the color and context behind that so that when I describe it to somebody else; they can get a much better sense for what, again, it is really like to work there. That person, that recruit, that prospect, whatever, is in a much better position to be part of the decision making process around fit ... whether we're talking about fit, or opportunity for success, of whether this is just a place that I want to be. There needs to be some self-selection in that. Right now, employers hold all the cards. We do all the decision making about whether or not this person is going to be successful here. 

The candidate needs to make the same kinds of decisions. I want them to know, that, again let's take transparency, that when I walk in the door, in order for me to get the information that I need, I've gotta ask for it. It's not gonna come and land in my lap automatically. Now, if that's something that's important to me, and I can't see myself operating in that kind of environment, then this may not be the best place for me. 

And I'd rather our candidates make that decision before they even walk in the door than, low and behold find it out three weeks later and they're as good as gone. This is about the discovery and this willingness to own and this ability to help individuals make decisions about whether or not I can be successful in this kind of environment. 

Bill Banham: Now, on the WorkXO website, you guys mentioned one of your clients, who were able to translate their work x genome to direct marketing messages and perhaps sales methods as well, that reflects their employer brand. That sounds incredibly powerful and important. What does that process briefly look like?

Charlie Judy: This was an organization actually a large trucking ... a Logistics organization, which ... in the United States, hiring truck drivers is one of the most challenging things to do. It's maybe even the hardest position to fill. And, what they discovered is that, they were sending messages and talking with their market in a way that was entirely similar to their competitors and others in the same market. They wanted to get to a message that again, was a little bit more authentic; that could add some color and context that would set them apart. So the discovery process that they went through was again, first understanding the DNA of their culture. 

Who are they today? And how did they actually work? And they uncovered some surprised about how their people experienced work. Ways that they had never anticipated. It was those surprises that they actually started to kind of sink their teeth into and say, "You know what? These are the things that actually kind of set us apart, because not only are we surprised by them, but actually, the rest of the world might actually be surprised by them." And so we really want to start highlighting these things as being a true differentiator, a really unique part of our culture. 

And that's what they drew out. And everything from how they talk about themselves in job descriptions to how they talk with candidates, to what it is that they were actually looking for when they were talking to.. You need to understand that this is how we work, this is really important to us; how does it apply to you? Is this kind of what you're looking for? So on and so forth. So, it really starts to permeate everything you do in the recruiting process. 

Bill Banham: Okay. So I'm a leader of a company say, and I've invested in the tools and the services to understand the makeup of my company. But just like our own DNA, the makeup of a company evolves and changes over time. So, what's the longevity of mapping a company's cultural genetics? How can companies continue to learn and develop and adapt to internal shifts and outside pressures?

Charlie Judy: That's a great question. I mean, I think it goes back to again, being intentional about it. Designing a process and or cycle that's going to fit for who you are and what you're trying to accomplish. We believe culture doesn't move as quickly as some of these other, kind of more fickle or superficial employee measures and sentiments and feelings and satisfaction, et cetera. Those are maybe things that you can measure on a more regular basis. We think culture is kind of an annual snapshot. And again, it's about getting that data that will kind of fuel ... more important, about fueling what's going to happen over the next, call it 12 months. 

Okay, we know where we potentially have some misalignment. We know where we've got some missed opportunities. Were gonna focus on those things. By the way, culture ... There's a lot of stuff that you can measure in culture. We know we cannot be all things to all people; and organizations that are trying to be all things to all people, are fighting a losing battle. So find the one or two things that are really gonna matter to you, in the most immediate future, and focus on those. Don't make promises beyond that. Get on those, and then revisit 12 months later. How has the needle moved? Any surprises? Any shifts? Maybe there's something new that we've got to focus on. And chances are there will be something new that you have to focus on.

As you said, it depends on what's going on in the market, with your product, with your people; all of those things are shifting. But I think you've got to be willing to put the time into addressing what you've already uncovered before you start looking for what's next. 

Bill Banham: Well Charlie Judy, that means that we are now coming towards the end of this particular sales pro chat interview. Before we wrap things up for today, how can our listeners learn more about you?

Charlie Judy: Yeah, just hit the world wide web. WorkXO; we're out there, we like to talk culture, whether it's about what we do and our platform and technology software that helps people do it, or if it's just in general. We're really interested in the conversation. We're in the social media sphere, we're on Twitter. You know? Just look us up and engage; we'd love to talk to anybody who's interested in learning more, or just shooting the breeze and sharing their own experiences in how they get and stay intentional around culture.

Bill Banham: Well that leaves me to say, Charlie Judy, thank you for being the guest on this sales pro chat episode today.

Charlie Judy: Thanks for having me, I really enjoyed it. 

Bill Banham: And until next time, happy selling. 
 




More About Charlie Judy

Charlie spent two decades as an HR executive with highly prominent and successful organizations with as many as 220,000 employees globally.

This extensive experience in-the-trenches makes his interaction with the Human Resources, Recruiting, and Talent Management audiences relevant. As a speaker, his topics help leaders foster an environment where their employees (and their authentic selves) become the fuel that drives businesses to flourish as if they were communities, not institutions. His content reflects his fundamental belief that the future of work is not about better HR systems, technologies, programs, practices, or any one “best practice.” Rather, it's about simplifying Human Resources and finding ways to re-humanize work.

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