Use this Simple but Powerful Technique to Shape Sales Culture

Voice of the customer- How to represent the sales force

Do you feel like you spend a lot of time representing sales in cross-functional meetings?

91% of sales operations leadership positions consider it a primary job requirement.
Keep headquarters in synch with the needs of the field and customers and you are on the path to a healthy sales culture focused on winning and not internal strife.

Are you effective? How do you know?

Here’s a powerful yet simple technique to make sure that the decisions you contribute to improve productivity in the field. First, make a positive mental image of a role-model sales person that embraces your sales culture.

4 Sales Culture Principles
  1. Focused on customers and prospects
  2. Conviction about how we compete and win
  3. Inspired to represent the company with passion
  4. Accountable with clear goals and expectations
The Empty Chair

Next time you  find yourself in the conference room or virtual meeting, imagine or actually place an empty chair at the table to represent your sales person.

  • In a effort to be comprehensive, marketing is pitching a message that is too high level
  • Finance is requesting a compensation rule based on a corner-case that would makes the plan too complex for the 99.8%
  • CRM design team has over-engineered a key sales form with too many required fields

How do you respond? If you choose to avoid conflict and just go with the flow, you may undermine your key principles. As the group considers alternatives and moves to make a decision, be the one to ask “How would this affect a sales rep”?


Sales - Marketing Alignment | Discussion Map







Sales operations has a seat at the table to represent the company through the lens of the sales person, sales manager or the customer.  Our colleagues may not understand persisting through multiple levels of “no” is a personal characteristic crucial to success in the field. They may forget customers behave much differently 1:1 with a sales person than they do in a room full of executives.

Negative stereotypes and personal bias lead to bad sales policy. Find ways to make your sales force more productive by staying true to your principles. Over time, you will be amazed at how this subtle push-back will shape your sales culture. The corporate team will adapt, begin to anticipate your question and then you’ll know you’ve made an impact.


To Sell is Human, by Daniel H. Pink is a perspective on the internal selling we all engage in. It will help you better understand your sales team so you can represent them effectively. Pink describes how Jeff Bezos  and Amazon made the “empty chair” a regular reminder of who is the most important person in the meeting room – the customer. The figure mid-page is an example Pink’s “discussion map” concept.

Collaborate on your next sales project



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About Neal Murphy

Neal Murphy is the publisher of Enterprise Sales Operations and former VP of Worldwide Sales & Operations with 20 years experience in enterprise technology.

+Neal Murphy +ESO