Sales is all about numbers – monthly revenue, call time, email activity, quota attainment. But that’s not all that goes into having a successful, high-performance sales team.
Culture is more difficult to define and measure, but it’s no less important than the metrics. An organization’s sales culture contributes to their productivity, retention, and success. Let’s look at what sales culture is and how you can revolutionize your own to create the high-performance team you want.
What Is Sales Culture?
Different from company culture, sales culture defines the who, what, when, where, and why of your organization. Whether good or bad, the company culture is an all-inclusive element of your organization and one that you can develop, maintain, and scale over time with the right systems in place.
Essentially, your sales culture is the culmination of the attitudes, habits, and values that define your sales team.
Here are some adjectives often used to define sales culture:
These adjectives are neutral, if not positive, but they don’t define all sales cultures. In some cases, a sales culture can be described as cutthroat, stressful, unprofessional, or mundane.
Cultures come in all forms, so the approach to improving sales culture must be tailored to its current strengths and weaknesses.
What Makes a Positive Sales Culture?
Developing a positive sales culture that facilitates positive outcomes takes some work. The whole team needs to understand the culture they’re participating in and how it can change. A successful culture brings out the success in the team, such as:
- Low representative turnover
- Healthy competition
- Trust and communication
- A common vision
- The ability to identify problems and solve them
- Fair compensation
- Ongoing learning and development
What Is a Toxic Sales Culture?
A toxic sales culture is basically the opposite of the positive sales culture – high turnover, individualism, excessive and cutthroat competitiveness, mistrust, poor motivation, and an “everyone out for themselves” mentality.
Sales are competitive by nature, no doubt. But the important thing to remember is that a little healthy competition is good and necessary, but a cutthroat mentality with everyone trying to get ahead, by whatever means necessary, hurts the larger business objectives.
What Is a High-Performance Sales Culture?
Most sales environments are fast-paced and competitive, so reps need to keep up. Maintaining this culture requires effort, execution, and constant growth with clear goals, decisive action, researched strategies, and relevant feedback.
Done correctly, this culture can foster trust and respect, even with competition, and prevents toxic culture from developing.
How to Revolutionize Sales Culture
Foster Friendly Competition
Salespeople thrive on competition. It needs to be kept in check, however, or competitive can quickly grow to cutthroat. Finding this balance can be challenging, however.
One of the best ways is to give a team an external rival to compete with, rather than rivals within. Push them to outperform the other team or the competitors to keep competition alive without them turning on each other.
You could also encourage your team to strive to beat their own personal bests. Direct competitive energy inward by asking them to outperform their last quarter’s numbers.
Combat High Rep Turnover
Losing salespeople left and right is a red flag. Hiring and training new reps is time-consuming and expensive, plus constant turnover has a negative impact on morale.
Decrease rep turnover by choosing the best salespeople. It may take more time in the hiring process, but it will pay off in the long term. You should also offer sales coaching and support to current sales reps, not just during their training period, but throughout their time on the sales team.
Collaborate and Share Knowledge
Creating a sales culture where salespeople can collaborate and pass along tips and strategies is important. Unfortunately, communication roadblocks stand in the way of developing this collaborative environment.
You should create an environment that is conducive to free, open communication. Find easy ways for reps to talk to one another, such as a chat platform like Skype or Slack.
You could also create contests that promote collaboration. Instead of having reps hoarding knowledge, offer opportunities to showcase it with contests that have them working collectively.
Build Trust and Communication
A good sales culture can’t exist without trust. It’s on the managers to make that happen. Here’s how:
- Accept and incorporate feedback
- Avoid micromanaging your team
- Keep your promises to your team
- Share a common vision
- Make ongoing learning and development part of the culture
- Maintain accountability
- Showcase individual talent and accomplishments
Build a Strong Sales Culture for Success
Building a high-performance sales culture – or correcting a toxic one – is no small feat. But with these tips, you can shift the mindset of your sales team to make it more positive, collaborative, and successful.