A company sales culture affects team productivity, employee retention and overall profitability.
Understanding sales culture is the first step to evaluating your own and identifying whether it needs to change.
In this article, we’ll cover what sales culture is and why it’s important. We’ll discuss what makes a successful company culture, the signs that your culture needs to change and nine top tips for developing or maintaining a strong sales culture.
What is sales culture and why is it important?
Sales culture is the attitudes, values and habits that define the entire team.
The term is not quantified by metrics. Instead, sales leaders use descriptors such as “supportive, competitive and democratic” to qualitatively summarize a company’s sales culture.
Maintaining a healthy workplace culture contributes to employee well-being and reduces stress. Undue stress at work can lead to negative consequences for your employees.
It should focus on clear, company-wide sales goals and use well-researched strategies to get there. Also, each member of the team needs to understand and agree with the company values that drive the culture.
Signs the sales culture needs to change
A negative sales culture can hurt morale and productivity. It has the following characteristics:
High sales rep turnover
Poor attitudes toward leadership
Lack of camaraderie and tension between reps
When you see any of these factors at play, it’s a sign you need to do something about your culture. An unhealthy or toxic sales culture is easy to identify but takes effort to change.
While a sales rep can affect the culture to some degree, if you want to build or change a sales culture, leadership and sales managers need to make specific efforts.
Let’s take a look at how to develop a successful sales culture.
9 tips for developing a healthy sales culture
Building a successful sales culture starts the first time a new hire sets foot in the building.
How they’re treated, the attitudes of the sales team and the support systems in place are integral to developing a healthy sales culture.
Culture is shaped by the example set by the sales leader, but a great sales culture includes the sales team in the building process.
Here are nine tips you can use to engage your sales organization in building a positive sales culture.
1. Expand your sales team with culture in mind
With a fast-growing business, it can be tempting to quickly hire qualified individuals when building a sales team. However, your company will benefit more if you take the time to consider cultural fit in addition to qualifications and experience.
Building a great sales culture is a two-way street. Employees will affect team attitudes and behaviors as much as leaders do. It’s important to bring in sales professionals who are willing and able to support your company values and goals from day one.
Consider the company mission and build out a list of the ideal traits of the perfect hire. For instance, you might start by listing relevant sales skills and experience. You should also list less tangible traits like good communication, positive outlook, resilience in the face of challenges, etc.
Ask questions in the interview process to learn how the candidate would fit with the company’s sales culture. For instance:
Tell me of the last time you were told “No” by a prospect. What did you do next?
Describe a large mistake that you have made in the past. How did you rectify or solve it?
It can be challenging to evaluate new hires in the sales interview process alone. You can get a more complete picture through their resume.
Look for hobbies, interests and achievements outside of a professional setting. For example, individuals with a competitive team sports background could prove a promising fit for team-based sales.
Find the best new hires with this Sales Interview Checklist
Download this checklist complete with all of the best questions to ask during an interview with a sales candidate.
2. Encourage healthy competition
Sales representatives are often competitive by nature, and healthy competition can motivate them to perform at their best.
There’s a fine line between healthy and toxic competition. Keep the focus on friendly challenges and team-building collaborations to keep sales activities and sales in the limelight.
Avoid contests that pit your team against each other. Instead, create team sales goals based on industry competitors’ success. Pipedrive’s Teams feature enables you to set and track team goals with a customizable dashboard that lets you track progress together.
Alternatively, encourage team members to beat their own previous monthly/quarterly quotas.
Offer rewards and sales incentives to heighten the sense of competition and get greater buy-in on sales goals. Celebrate success in team meetings and set the stage for new challenges, sales contests or team goals.
Whether moving in a new direction, learning new technology or adopting a new approach, your sales team needs to be agile to navigate change.
Building agility in a team requires careful sales leadership and intentional practice. Give your team regular opportunities to assess sales activities and change course as needed.
You could set up a daily 10-minute sales meeting to discuss what’s going well and any issues your team is having. As concerns arise, make plans together to adapt your strategy to fix recurring issues.
For tips on how to set up a helpful meeting, take a look at this quick video on setting a sales meeting agenda.
When you look at your success regularly, you’re more poised to make changes quickly. Getting used to recognizing and addressing issues frequently helps build a flexible team that values speed in their decision-making.
Here are a few other ways to help build resilience and agile thinking in your sales team:
Building skills and familiarity with different strategies gives your employees a robust sales toolkit to draw on. They’ll be able to switch gears and apply the skills needed in the face of any change.
4. Collaborate and communicate
Foster great communication among a sales team and encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing to work toward a shared goal.
Communication helps teams maintain a shared vision and tackle company sales objectives. Software solutions like Slack can make quick communication both effective and easy to use.
Open communication around existing deals and customer interactions also helps your sales reps work together better. When they get frequent updates, they’ll know exactly which deals to follow up on and which prospects are ready to move to the next stage of the sales funnel.
For instance, Pipedrive’s CRM provides a visual overview of your pipeline. This high-level overview is available to all team members, so you’ll always know who to contact and which step comes next for which deal.
Build two-way trust and accountability to maintain productivity in the workplace.
All employees should have clearly defined tasks and goals that they are responsible for – for instance, a set sales quota. Setting and regularly following up on goals helps employees know exactly what’s expected of them. Accomplishing their tasks and reaching their goals also builds trust with leaders and colleagues.
Note: Ensure goals are realistic to avoid frustration. If someone is struggling in their position, be available to step in and help. Fostering open communication early on can help solve potential issues before they spiral into larger problems.
6. Reduce time away from the sales process
The more time passionate salespeople spend selling, the happier they are at work and the better your bottom line. Minimize their time away from the sales process to keep your team engaged.
Reducing the time spent in meetings is a great way to free up time to allow salespeople to perform.
Team-building exercises can be important factors in strengthening collaboration, but make them secondary to selling activities. Schedule them ahead of time with plenty of notice and plan them for quieter times of the day/week to minimize the impact.
Automations in the sales process offer huge time-saving benefits for sales reps. Use a CRM to automate tasks and keep track of multiple sales pipelines.
Note: Pipedrive’s Sales Automation Software helps eliminate busywork in the daily tasks of a sales rep. It can help send personalized emails, move leads to the next stage of the pipeline after key activities or remind sales reps of important next steps.
7. Encourage development opportunities
Offer opportunities for development and continuous learning to allow your sales team to grow in their position.
Sales training is an integral part of onboarding any new hire, but employee development shouldn’t stop there. A healthy sales culture encourages the growth of each individual to achieve personal goals.
Implement a structured coaching plan for each sales rep. Request feedback from reps on the training they receive and ask about key areas that they would like to improve in.
In addition to creating a solid foundation of basic sales skills, help your team stay on the cutting edge of sales in your field. Buyer behavior is constantly evolving and it’s important to keep up to date with industry trends and developments.
Consider having employees attend conferences, tradeshows and other networking events to learn from peers and prospective customers.
The same is true for technological advancements. Staying in the loop of the latest sales tech (using CRMs, AI tools, etc.) is vital for a high-performance sales culture. Technical training should also be a key part of your learning and development strategy.
8. Monitor daily sales team activity
Monitor the team’s daily activities with a data-driven approach so sales leaders can make improvements as needed.
Users can create, customize and filter results, tracking metrics to best fit their sales team. Visualize reports in charts, graphs and interactive tables.
Pipedrive’s reporting tools also help managers find winning strategies and uncover bottlenecks in the sales process. Greater access and visualization of data leads to better decision-making and a healthy sales culture.
Even the best salespeople and top performers have dips in their performance. Tracking sales performance will let you communicate with the team following any drops to investigate where leaders can step in and help.
A healthy sales culture should acknowledge the accomplishments not just of the company or team, but the individuals that make up the team. Celebrating these achievements will boost the morale of the whole team.
Make note when team members excel, reach goals or create value in the team. Regularly acknowledge these achievements to make sales reps feel valued.
Employee recognition inspires others to perform their best as they strive to reach both company and personal goals. Consider using rewards as incentives for top performers.
This could include things like:
Creating and maintaining a winning sales culture takes time and effort from sales leaders. But the impact a carefully created sales culture has on the team is worth the sacrifice.
Whether you’re building a sales culture from scratch or developing an existing one, the tips above can help you create a happier, healthier working environment. When employees have a healthy environment, they thrive – and so does your company.
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