Build a Winning Sales Culture

If a company is a boat, culture is the rudder that steers the boat. Most leaders and companies are aware of the need for overall company culture, but often overlook the sales subculture or attempt to merge the two cultures. 

Strong sales culture is the secret weapon of top-performing teams. A strong sales culture can push a ‘middle of the road’ rep, a “C+ player”, into a solid quota crusher, but a bad sales culture can pull a “C+ player” down to a D-/F player. The bottom line is that in a sales team you get what you allow.

The top-performing reps will be top-performing no matter what team or culture they are in, and your bottom performers will be at the bottom no matter what. The middle majority of the team is what hangs in the balance.

This article is framed as a quiz with questions for you to consider and respond too. We're happy to provide some free advice based on your responses, but even if you don't submit your answers we encourage you to consider the questions and evaluate your sales culture's efficacy.

The need for a clear culture in any company is necessary to drive conscious and unconscious behaviors. Sales culture is a combination of the attitudes, actions, and principles that you foster in your sales team. Sales is a much different job than any other at the company and needs to define a culture of success and achievement under immense pressure to succeed. This is often why sales teams get compensated differently, offered more latitude, and see more perks than other parts of the company. These benefits are balanced by long nights, fewer weekends, and higher pressure work environment, every single day, week, month, and year. Far too often, this high pressure environment leads to a much higher turnover rate. Sales is generally the hardest job at a company, requiring immense tenacity and grit.

Sales is unlike any other job at a company because it's not a task-driven job, it's performance-based. That means you’re only as good as your last performance (or sale) and the quality of your performed matters. Not all deals are created alike, there is an obvious difference between a $15,000 deal and a $150,000 deal, quality matters.

It is important to understand the choices you’re making and the potential impact they have on your teams, their attitudes and the decisions they make daily. Many traits and motivators that are important in a sales team do not apply to other roles in the company. While cultivating a relentless drive to succeed will push a sales department continually pursue new business opportunities,  driving your accountant to relentlessly scrutinize you books on an hourly basis would be less useful. One task can be considered complete while sales is ongoing.

It is possible to operate a sales team under the same cultural ideology as the rest of the company but you will likely be leaving money on the table, with a team that is not operating at its peak. Whatever decision you make, know the impact.

Defined company values should be used as a tool to guide the direction of decision making. This can include everything from software purchases to hiring profiles. Without defined, explicit, company values you can lose your way from the inherent benefit that culture provides.

Defining  values and reinforcing them through culture acts as a subconscious guardrail or template for decision making and attitudes around the company.

Value Add

Fun

Aggressive

Client Focused

Teamwork

Success

Winning

Results

Gritty

All of these are good values to have in a high performing sales culture, but to have clearly defined and actionable values you have to prioritize the most important and focus on them. There are only so many hours in the day, week, and month to invest in these values and trying to highlight too many will muddle your message.

Once you have narrowed your focus and chosen which values are most important for your team it becomes easier to develop an actionable plan to address each of them.

The best performing sales cultures are aggressive, fun, and successful. Performance is an outcome of the process and culture, success is a habit that is reinforced daily. If there is a call/dial goal, do they hit it? If they committed to finding sourcing 10 new leads, did they or did they go home at 5pm? Success is about committing and following through no matter what. That will result in performance. Happy clients and teammates should be an outcome of success, rather than the goal of it. 

Select all that apply.

A high stakes environment filled with constant wins and looses builds pressure. Sales teams often goof around together, get distracted together and sometimes get into arguments. While these activities don't contribute directly towards the goal, they aren't all bad, but they can be if left unchecked. Stress and pressure from selling and striving after quota build up over time and need an outlet. It’s important that reps are able to have find reasonable outlets without ridicule. They should feel comfortable enough to find balance in the office, so that when they are selling they are functioning at their peak. These tangents are also an excellent source of office camaraderie, but must be reigned back in when they get to be a negative distraction, hindering others' ability to be productive.

The border between friends, good friends, and colleagues, is important. The border between their manager and leadership is especially important. Managers and leadership should always maintain a certain level of distance from the team to avoid being too close where they can no longer have hard conversations or challenge reps. When relationships become too personal, respect is often lost.

They call it leadership for a reason, someone needs to lead. The most effective leaders are in the day-to-day with the team. They have credibility and context for everyone and everything. The sales leadership (sales manager, director of sales, VP of sales)  is the one who should be responsible for maintaining the sales culture. If culture is the rising tide that floats all boats, then they are responsible for making sure that a successful TEAM is the goal, not just a handful of individuals. 

Select all that apply.

Your leader is the face, the voice, and the heart of your sales team. They must live and breathe the values you’re asking of your team. They must have the credibility to do the job and ask hard things of the team, while also not being a dictator.

If the sales leader is the face, voice, and heart of your team, they need to be highly aligned with the cultural traits. Someone who cannot hold a team accountable, who cannot have hard conversations, cannot coach them to success. The same way a leader who doesn’t listen and doesn’t care about the team, and only focuses on the bottom line will lose credibility with the team and fail as well.

If you'd like to talk with us about how you can build a winning sales culture, fill out the contact info below and hit submit. We'll take a look at your answers and get back to you to set up a free consultation.

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