Sales success doesn’t always come from the ability to close a sale. It can also come from the ability to network and to upsell. These skills come from one common thread—a great salesforce.

When sales managers are asked what makes a great salesforce they’ll often cite characteristics like great products and services, excellent strategies, sound processes and systems, and being in the right place at the right time. Although these elements are important, there is one element that highly successful sales leaders have in common—an attitude that puts salespeople first.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today we are sharing three ways sales leaders can move forward to building better employee and customer relationships that impact the bottom line, from business writer John Waid.

Salespeople First, Customers Second, Money Third. Most companies set their priorities where money comes first, the customer comes second and finally the salesforce comes third. According to Waid, this order leads to less profit, upset customers and high employee turnover. What would happen if we changed the order in which employees come first, customers second and money third?

Waid shares the example of Richard Anderson, the former CEO of Delta Airlines, who realized that if his company was to survive (he helped bring two airlines, Delta and Northwest, out of bankruptcy) it was going to be because of the people. During his tenure at Delta he focused his time and communication on employees and making sure they followed the company founder’s values and behaviors. To do this, Anderson found an employee manual from the 1940s and rewrote it into what became the driving principles at Delta. This led to a rebirth in a sales and service culture which led to record profits.

Sales Culture First, Structure Second, Strategy Third. Traditionally, companies will focus first on the target sales, then on the company strategy and sales structure to achieve this strategy. However, this has not been productive, in general, as it led to less involved and engaged employees.

Make your sales culture the focus of your efforts and then look at the structures and strategies to support that culture. This will lead to highly productive and happy salespeople who customers love and buy more from. A good culture to start out with is one based on the C.A.P. values—curiosity, accountability and people skills.

Sales Leaders First, Coaching Second and Managing Third. A leader focuses on salespeople and sales culture, a coach on sales processes and a manager on sales strategies and results. It is important as a sales leader to focus on all three of these areas, in the order listed, as people need to first be inspired and have a culture to live, then be in a structure that grows and finally to be held accountable for producing great results.

In most organizations there are too many sales managers, only a few sales coaches and hardly any sales leaders. This places a heavy emphasis on managing the salesforce with quotas and consequences for not meeting quotas. When you lead first, coach second and manage third you will have a salesforce that likes and is successful at selling, treats customers well and produces great results.

Consider shifting your sales priorities to drive a sales-centered culture first and foremost.

Source: John Waid is the founder of C-3 Corporate Culture Consulting, a keynote speaker and author of the book, Reinventing Ralph. With a specialty and passion for corporate culture, sales and global business, Waid believes culture is the engine that drives companies to better results, higher morale and increased profitability. An active speaker, trainer and subject matter expert, Waid holds an enduring belief that corporate culture is the key to success for companies.