The Unsung Hero of High Growth Companies – Culture
For many (this author included), culture has been relegated to an HR topic, not something a sales or marketing leader would take time defining and enforcing. That mindset is changing.
“We used to just give culture lip-service, but now it’s a critical factor in how we evaluate a company.” This quote came from Doug Pepper, Managing Director of Shasta Ventures, speaking at TOPO Council on March 10, 2017. Doug pointed to Salesforce’s now public list of acquisition targets that was leaked via Colin Powell’s hacked email (shown below). Symbolically, GlassDoor ratings (“would recommend”) are featured on the third row above revenue metrics. The message: culture is one of the top considerations when evaluating a company’s value.
The culture theme was present at the Executive Track of the 2017 TOPO Summit. Sales and marketing speakers presented the strategies and tactics they employ to drive their remarkable growth – and over half focused their presentations on culture. Again – culture matters.
There are a number of dimensions to creating and managing corporate culture. Below are four actionable takeaways gleaned from a number of sales and marketing leaders from high-growth culture-centric organizations.
Codify your cultural values – Sales and marketing alignment remains a vexing issue for the majority of organizations. Aimee Miller, SVP of Marketing at AppFolio, ties her company’s exceptional sales-marketing alignment to their commitment to the corporate culture. Their cultural values are such an important part of their identity, they are featured on their website.
Hire for culture – A great example of hiring for culture is Ted Purcell, SVP and General Manager, Commercial, at Marketo. For Ted, culture is one of the key pillars of his sales management philosophy. Today, he is in the process of reshaping the sales team. Achievement matters, but cultural fit is the final hiring factor for candidates.
Reward for commitment to your culture – Most sales organizations focus exclusively on revenue achievement for company advancement. According to LinkedIn’s Matt Loop, LinkedIn sales team members are actually evaluated for promotions based on how well they have exhibited the company’s cultural values (along with their sales performance).
Enforce culture (even if it hurts) – Dennis Lyandres attributes a significant portion of Procore’s sales success to culture (amongst other things). Their philosophy is to “hire slow” to identify candidates with the right cultural fight, and then make fast, hard decisions if they were wrong about fit. As a matter of fact, Dennis actually let go of one of his top performers because they weren’t a cultural fit. Giving up revenue achievement for culture is courageous and often a decision that leaders are hesitant to make. But the result has been an incredible culture (Glassdoor: 97% “would recommend”).
Culture is not free food, ping pong tables, and foosball. Culture is about values. The overall takeaway is to codify values and hire, reward, and fire based on those values and results will follow.