The Role of CX in a Sales Culture
Home 5 Blogs 5 The Role of CX in a Sales Culture
The Role of CX in a Sales Culture
Home 5 Blogs 5 The Role of CX in a Sales Culture

You can win more friends with your ears than with your mouth. People who feel like they’re being listened to feel accepted and appreciated. They feel like they’re being taken seriously and what they say really matters.”

– Harvey Mackay, Sales Expert, Author and Columnist

Quality sales cultures are the ones where the Customer comes before the close, like Mackay’s quote indicates here. Ricoh Canada has a real world example of making this kind of change to their sales driven culture and making it work.

Back in the 80s, I used to work for Xerox, a competitor of Ricoh’s. I was only there for a couple of years. If I think back at my days at Xerox, there were people there that would sell their grandmother for 20 cents. Not all mind you, but enough that I knew it wasn’t a culture where I wanted to hang about.

The interesting bit for me is that a sales culture or the sales focus is bound to have this kind of effect on an organization. When all that is rewarded is getting the sale, then why shouldn’t selling a matriarch at a profit be a possibility?

I wrote about Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and their role in the Customer Experience.  When your KPI is based on sales, you are rewarding an internally focused action, the transaction. A Customer Experience, however, is about how they feel about the transaction, not the transaction itself.  If you reward the transaction, why should employees care about how the Customer feels about it? In some ways, this system can make your best salespeople the biggest problem for your Customer Experience.

The challenge for businesses today is to get the sale and make an excellent Customer Experience. When we talk to senior executives about their sales culture mentality, we use the following model to explain what type of sales culture/salesperson drives the most value:

As you can see there are two axes: Customer Experience and Revenue. The four boxes represent the salespeople and where they are with both axes.

  • The Job Seeker is the salesperson who is neither achieving revenue nor a good Customer Experience; the name represents what they will soon need to do!
  • The Misguided represents the salesperson that puts the Customer first, even to the detriment of the company. While it’s laudable they put the Customer’s needs at such a high priority, it’s not good for business to do everything a Customer wants.
  • The Money Machine describes the people that hit the numbers, even over-achieves their numbers every month and quarter, but they don’t focus on (or care about) the Customer in the transaction. In my post about this model, I share a story about how a company we worked with fired their best money machine because he or she couldn’t adapt to the new ideal.
  • The Business Person is the new ideal. They not only hit their numbers, but they also provide an excellent Customer Experience for their accounts. They balance the needs of the Customers and the needs of their organization. They understand what Mackay was saying about people and use it in their everyday approach to business.

Many organizations today operate with a sales culture. In many ways, this is smart. Selling things, after all, is the point of business, isn’t it? Ricoh Canada is a self-professed sales-driven organization, just as Xerox is. What they discovered in their Customer Experience Improvement journey was that selling was important, but making sure the Customer felt good about the sale was just as important, if not more important.

Mary Ann Sayers, Director of Corporate Sustainability and Community Relations, explained the importance of spending time on the Customer Experience design. They developed over the course of several years a culture at the company that put the Customer at the center of everything they did. One of the many things they employed over the years to do this was to show how everyone at the company was part of the Customer relationship through their My Customer program and Customer Experience training.

Ricoh Canada also added compensation to their Customer Experience goals. Everyone has a 25% value connected to objectives in Customer Satisfaction and quality experience. This comp plan is another way in which they are enforcing that Customer Experience is a KPI.

And it’s working. Last year’s third quarter score was nearly 68 (67.81), a number slightly higher than where they have been averaging for nearly eight years. In addition, they enjoy year over year sales growth in an economy that suffered two recessions and in a shrinking industry as copier use is on the decline.

Can a sales-driven culture also have a Customer-Experience driven culture? Absolutely. Ricoh Canada is a great example of exactly that. It requires an enforcement of the principles, a focus on the needs of the Customer, and a KPI that is rewarded for achieving these goals.

RICOH Canada had a vision: to be the most trusted brand with irresistible appeal in their market. To listen to the webinar, “Ricoh Case Study: How We Moved Our Loyalty Score by 34 Points in 30 months” and learn from CEO Glenn Laverty how their focus on a customer-centric approach improved their Net Promoter Score® by 34-points and grew their business 115%. Click here.


I will be going LIVE on Periscope for the first time next week! Join me as I answer the questions “What is a Customer Experience really about?” .

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Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of four bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.

Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter @ColinShaw_CX