Camaraderie. Competition. Communication. Find out how successful organizations cultivate a healthy sales culture.
“Loyal, passionate employees bring a company as much benefit as loyal, passionate customers.” - Rob Markey, Harvard Business Review
A healthy company culture–and a healthy sales culture–is not only beneficial for employee engagement and happiness in the workplace, but it also translates to more productivity and better sales results. Studies show that “happy workers are 12% more productive than the average worker, and unhappy workers are 10% less productive.” Additionally, companies with high employee engagement have a “19% increase in operating income and a 28% increase in earnings growth.”
So, clearly culture is important for organizational success–but how do you build a great sales culture? It doesn’t just appear out of thin air. You need to be intentional, consistent and dedicated to developing a positive workplace environment for your sales teams.
Here are our top tips for building a winning sales culture.
Hire for Cultural Fit
Building a great sales culture often starts with the hiring process. If you don’t hire the right people in the first place, it will be nearly impossible to establish a positive sales culture and create a successful sales team with the same values. Consider adopting some sort of cultural fit test as a way to determine if the candidate is the right person for the job and for your company. It’s not only about experience and qualifications–cultural fit is a key way to ensure that new hires adapt well to the team and the company as a whole, both professionally and socially.
And remember that cultural fit is not only about the employer. Job seekers should also do some research on the employer and see if their values align with those of the company.
Fun fact: Zappos offers all their trainees $2,000 to quit after the first week of training, in order to ensure that everyone they hire truly wants to be there and fits in with their unique company culture.
Support Learning and Growth
“Since we live in an age of innovation, a practical education must prepare a man for work that does not yet exist and cannot yet be clearly defined.” – Peter F. Drucker
Another way to fuel your sales culture is through eLearning and coaching. It is important for salespeople to continuously evolve and add new skills to their repertoire–both for sales performance and employee happiness. Customer behavior and technology is always changing, so your sales team should follow suit if they want to remain successful. Also, salespeople are typically ambitious and thus crave growth and development in their roles. A stagnant career path is not appealing to them and will likely lead to job dissatisfaction, toxic culture and ultimately employee turnover.
Similarly, providing opportunities for salespeople to develop their skills and move up in the company contributes to sales culture and employee morale. Hiring from within the company whenever possible will make your employees feel more valued and facilitate trust between colleagues.
Celebrating wins together helps to encourage teamwork and collaboration–and thus leads to better sales culture. When one person makes a sale, it’s a win for the whole team, but it can be easy to forget that and become envious of others.
What’s more, salespeople want to be recognized and feel appreciated for their hard work. In the US, only 1 in 3 employees “say they received recognition for something they did within the past seven days, and those who don’t feel recognized are twice as likely to say they’ll quit their job within the next year.”
A crucial part of healthy sales culture is transparency and awareness. Visualizing data and showing how everyone is performing increases transparency amongst both co-workers and employers alike. It shows people that there is nothing to hide and builds a culture of trust within your sales teams. Several studies even revealed that “company transparency was the number-one factor in determining their workplace happiness.”
Displaying sales reps’ performance also increases accountability, which is a vital part of any healthy sales team. Your sales floor will be more vibrant when people have clear expectations and know how they are performing on targets in comparison to their fellow reps. For instance, when Tom sees that April is ahead of him in monthly sales numbers, this might inspire him to step up his game–as well as add some friendly rivalry amongst team members.
Collaborate with Other Departments
“39% of surveyed employees believe that people in their own organization don’t collaborate enough.”
Collaboration is key–both within teams and between different departments. Aside from the increased efficiency that comes with more interdepartmental communication, it also improves employee morale. Open, honest communication and social interaction leads to happier employees and better company culture.
And for sales teams, it is greatly beneficial to work together with other departments. For instance, say a sales rep needs to put together a pitch deck to send to a client. The marketing and design departments chats with the rep and collaborates to create a beautifully designed deck that is full of relevant sales content. The sales rep sends the deck to a prospect and later closes the deal. Sales reps succeeding creates a positive atmosphere within the sales team and thus contributes to better culture.
In regard to company communication, streamlining is important for building a healthy sales culture. There is nothing like inefficient and inconsistent communication to frustrate colleagues and create a toxic work environment. Using the same processes and structure for internal communication helps to reduce tension and improve productivity.
For example, using a digital communication tool such as Slack makes it beyond easy to keep everyone informed and on the same page. It also helps to establish a shared language and culture when sales reps are communicating on the same platform and in a similar way.
Foster (Healthy) Competition
Competitiveness is an inevitable part of any great sales team, so fostering healthy competition between reps is a major part of building a positive sales culture. Run company and team competitions to encourage teamwork, and individual competitions to inspire reps to perform at their personal best. It’s also important to add some variety to your sales contests to ensure that reps don’t get bored and the same people don’t win again and again.