A great sales culture is one where the environment and overall attitude is positive, transparent, and results-driven. Sales leaders build an excellent culture by making sure goals align with the overall company mission and its revenue targets while also promoting a sense of open communication, collaboration, healthy competition, and fun.
Below are 10 steps you can implement to develop an outstanding sales culture:
1. Use Existing Company Culture as Your Foundation
Start by analyzing your overall company culture. For instance, if your organization has established core values or themes such as openness and collaboration, consider how well your company is living up to those values, and how you can bring these elements into your sales culture.
Here’s how you can identify themes and core values within your company culture:
- Review your company’s vision and mission: A company’s vision and mission statement usually reflects the core values and themes found in its culture
- Contemplate and write down themes and values you see on a daily basis: If your company doesn’t have core values or themes in writing, do some reflection and record the values you see in action every day.
- Talk with senior management: Company executives usually have a keen sense of their company’s culture and core values. Talk with them and get their perspective about how you should develop your sales culture.
- Communicate with and observe your sales team: Your sales team has a wealth of information about their perception of company culture. Observing their behavior and habits also gives you insight into what matters most to your team.
2. Align Your Team Goals With Company Goals
Once you have a good grasp on your overall company culture and you’ve identified key themes and values to use in developing your sales culture, ensure your sales team goals align with company goals. This matters because your sales team plays a key role in whether your company will hit its revenue targets. For example, if company revenue goals are to generate $20 million, work with leaders to allocate the percentage that should come from sales.
After you’ve worked with senior leadership on the percentage that sales will contribute to the overall company revenue goal, create a sales plan with goals for each team member. Divide the expected revenue to be generated by each sales rep. If your team members are divided by product or territory, you’ll assign goals based on your sales forecast for particular product lines or territories.
3. Clearly Communicate Goals & Expectations
Once sales goals and expectations are set, it’s your job to make sure they are fully understood and enthusiastically adopted by your sales team. Having a set of clear expectations and buy-in from your team is one of the key components of a great sales culture and can be done in a variety of ways.
For instance, effective sales meetings can stir excitement about sales goals. These meetings are also an opportunity to show how team goals contribute to the overall company goals and your overall mission. However, you’ll also want to have individual meetings to address any questions or concerns that arise. In addition to meetings, you should communicate often in a variety of ways to ensure your team understands their goals and expectations.
Examples of communication channels other than meetings include:
- Email: Keep emails positive, short, and to the point.
- Intranet site: These types of sites are well-suited for teams used to using a central hub for information.
- Collaboration software: Tools like Slack are a great choice for remote teams and companies that want to reduce the use of long email threads.
- Personalized video: A unique way of personalizing a message that captures a sales leader’s personality
- Voicemail: An impactful way to use voice to communicate and celebrate sales goals with the team
- Text messages: Great for communicating with highly mobile sales teams
The communication channels you choose should align with your company and sales culture. If you have a highly mobile sales team that is always using their phones, team or individual text messages could work for reminders, celebrations, or encouragement related to sales goals. Or, if you have an inside sales team that only works in the office, a company intranet site may be a good idea. For completely remote teams, tools such as Slack are often good options.
4. Meet Regularly
An important element in building a sales culture is face-to-face communication. This is important because consistently meeting and exceeding sales goals has many challenges, and regular meetings are critical for keeping your team motivated. Meetings should take place in a range of settings to add variety and keep things interesting.
Below are several types of regular meetings you can have with your sales team:
- Daily team huddles (in-person): These meetings happen every day, and are where the sales manager reminds the team of daily or monthly goals. It’s also an effective way to energize the team before they begin their day.
- Weekly team meetings (in-person): Weekly in-person team meetings give sales teams the chance to reflect and discuss how their week went if it’s held at the end of the week, or what they plan to achieve if it’s held at the beginning of the week.
- Team video conferences: If teams are remote, video conferences can build and maintain a good sales culture by allowing the team to communicate with each other virtually. Video conferencing software such as Zoom is particularly easy to use.
- Team audio-based conference calls: Audio-based conference calls are also great for connecting when teams are remote if video conferencing isn’t preferred.
Regular meetings help reinforce your sales culture because they serve as opportunities to remind the team of sales team values. In addition, they help keep sales goals and expectations front and center, motivate the team to perform at a high level, and celebrate team members achieving their goals.
5. Celebrate Wins & Learn From Losses
An important aspect of building an effective sales culture is celebrating wins and reflecting on losses. Since many sales cycles are long and complex, it is key to celebrate wins at every stage in the sales cycle to maintain momentum. This fosters excitement and helps motivate your team. It’s also important to reflect on losses, discuss them, learn from them, move on, and talk about what could be done differently next time.
💡 Pro tip: To easily keep track of your team’s sales wins, consider using a customer relationship management (CRM) tool like Pipedrive, which makes it easy to see wins and losses at a glance. Pipedrive includes sales reports that show all sales opportunities, wins, and losses. The ability to pull these reports quickly helps you celebrate wins and learn from losses right away. Pipedrive even has a free trial to help you get started.
6. Reward Team Collaboration
To foster collaboration, reward team members who work together. If one sales rep helps another close a deal or move it along, offer a bonus to both collaborators. You can also consider partnering with other departments in the organization to promote company-wide collaboration. For instance, if sales and marketing are compensated for working together on a proposal, both teams will be motivated with a financial incentive to make sure the deal closes.
💡 Pro tip: An excellent way to reward collaboration is to create a campaign with a clear theme, specific goals, and prizes. You’ll want to have communication tools such as flyers professionally designed or prizes such as gift cards designed to reflect your campaign theme. Even if you don’t have an in-house design team, a service such as Fiverr is a fast and affordable way to have these elements professionally created.
7. Foster Healthy Competition
Nearly all sales professionals are competitive and thrive on healthy competition. Creating a sense of competition on the team encourages sales reps to perform at a higher level if they will get recognized or gain a monetary reward. It also helps build a high-performance sales culture by creating realistic challenges for your sales team.
Here are a few ways to create healthy competition within your sales team:
- Hold individual sales contests: These contests inspire people to work harder to exceed goals on an individual level.
- Create team-based sales contests: Team-based sales competitions support the spirit of collaboration.
- Sponsor annual sales contests: Annual sales contests give the sales team a huge prize or financial incentive to look forward to at the end of the year.
- Design activity-based sales contests: These types of sales contests reward sales activities and behaviors you want to increase and create a sense of competition in the process.
“We provide limited-edition company swag, including high-quality T-shirts and plush fleeces (it gets cold in Delaware). Workers who go above and beyond in the office also receive vouchers based on their particular interests. For instance, bookworms will be able to treat themselves to some new books, and a gourmet will be able to enjoy a meal with their significant other at a local restaurant—all on the firm.”
— Samuel Johns, Human Resources Specialist, ResumeGenius
However, it’s important to keep an eye on competition efforts because sometimes it can become unhealthy and jeopardize your sales culture. Contests should be easy to track so there’s a clear winner. Also, look out for team members who may become overly aggressive or who may sacrifice collaboration efforts for individual wins. The key is to get to know what motivates your team and find the right balance that will contribute to a positive culture.
8. Support Professional Development Opportunities
To build a strong sales culture, encourage continual professional development. This helps keep sales reps’ skills sharp and grow their ability to win against their competitors. It also lets your team know you are invested in their future at the company, building their skills and their future advancement in the organization.
The types of professional development you should invest in are sales training programs that are designed to yield a positive return on investment (ROI). Make sure the training brings you a positive return so it will be worth it to take them away from their sales activities for a short time to increase their success in selling products and services.
9. Reward Daily Positive Behaviors
It’s critical to acknowledge and reward positive behaviors on a regular basis. For example, if a key part of your sales process is adding at least 20 new prospects to the pipeline, reward team members for accomplishing it regularly.
The types of rewards you can offer for daily positive actions could be earning points that are redeemable for prizes. Other types of rewards include recognition on a leaderboard, public praise in meetings, gift cards, or their favorite snacks.
💡 Pro tip: Most small business CRMs, like Pipedrive, include tools to remind your team of important sales activities they need to perform each day. For instance, if you want your sales team to call prospects in a certain pipeline stage every day, that can be added as an activity reminder to encourage accountability.
10. Have Fun
This is probably one of the most important factors in creating an enjoyable culture. Sales jobs are challenging, and if sales reps don’t feel the sales culture is fun, they may consider leaving your organization for a company with a better culture. Having a sense of fun gives sales reps something to look forward to when they go to work every day.
There’s no shortage of things you can do to make the culture more fun, including:
- Having fun sales contests such as overcoming the most objections
- Having a table of board games in the workspace for break times
- Planning team outings that get the team together out of the office and foster personal relationships
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What does a successful sales culture look like?
A successful sales culture looks like a culture that fosters an engaged, high-performing team that meets or exceeds its revenue goals and creates an atmosphere where salespeople want to work with each other and with the company.
What are the benefits of an excellent sales culture?
Some of the benefits of a great sales culture include collaborating with high-performing salespeople, achieving or exceeding sales goals, and a sense of fun and team spirit.
Why do I need to proactively build an effective sales culture?
The best sales cultures aren’t created by accident. Sales leaders and business owners must plan and build a sales culture that reflects the overall mission of the company
Successful sales cultures are built by starting with the overall company culture and making sure that revenue goals are aligned with sales goals. It also includes encouraging clear communication of expectations, a sense of healthy competition, collaboration, transparency, and fun. Use these steps as a blueprint to proactively create a high-performing sales culture that’s right for your business.