Sales Culture: How to Build a High Performance, Healthy Sales Team
Creating a sales culture is a challenging task for every business.
We’re not talking about simply landing big clients and closing profitable deals. Those are the rewards you can obtain after you do the hard work of building a sales organization that will succeed.
Sales culture ideas refer to things such as team synergy, creativity, and promoting values that foster a healthy, motivational, and productive sales team.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to build a sales team that inspires current employees to succeed and for newcomers to join with pride. Help your hardworking digital marketing team reach the finish line by supporting them with a dynamic sales team that knows how to deliver results.
What Does a Quality Sales Culture Look Like?
Before we can dive into how to create a better sales culture, we first must define positive sales culture traits. To better understand why those positive traits are essential, we should also examine the traits of a harmful sales environment that are unfortunately all too common.
What qualities do you think of when you are presented with an opportunity at a sales-focused team or company?
If the company is successful and with a team that boasts a strong track record, you can likely expect the following qualities:
- Strong, well-defined sales strategies shared and implemented by the entire team
- Mistakes are encouraged, not shamed
- Team members are given personal freedom to develop their own techniques
- New ideas are shared as part of a collaborative effort
- A team-first mindset
- Strong compensation that includes benefits (bonuses for employees that excel)
- Humility and an eagerness to learn regardless of experience or tenure
- Team competitiveness that is encouraging, not destructive
While these sales culture ideas might seem like a no-brainer for what you want your company to look like, it’s quite often not the reality. Instead, we see many negative sales culture ideas that perpetuate and look more like this:
- A lack of structure, project management, or a cohesive vision for the company or its goals
- Employees rarely try new strategies as mistakes are severely punished by management
- Heavy micromanagement regardless of performance
- Team members withhold new ideas to distance themselves from others for personal gain
- A me-first mindset
- Poor compensation and unreasonable expectations that emphasize survival instead of growth and success
- Superiority complexes and actively discouraging new members from speaking up or participating
- Toxic competitiveness that celebrates an individual at the expense of others in the company
It can seem like an easy task to avoid these common pitfalls of toxic sales culture if you know what to avoid.
However, many of these negative characteristics end up falling into place because of how closely sales culture can toe the line. What can start as a friendly competition to encourage better performance from all can turn destructive quickly. Before you know it, members of the team will dread coming to work until they inevitably quit and leave you shorthanded.
While it’s the responsibility of all to create the healthy work environment they want to see, much of these ideas start and end with quality management.
If you find that your sales team is constantly battling a high turnover rate, burn-out of employees, and overall poor performance, it’s time to self-reflect and look at some proven strategies you can implement to reinvigorate and build a high performance, healthy sales team.
How to Build a Healthy Sales Culture?
While sales-oriented companies face the high stress of deadlines and reaching critical goals, none of it is possible without your team. With that in mind, a healthy sales culture starts by building a strong foundation that allows each individual to succeed on their own and as a part of a unit.
As a manager or company owner, it’s your responsibility to not just coordinate the sales team, but to understand and motivate your employees to reach their full potential. To achieve this, start by tackling the following issues and allow the results to speak for themselves.
1. What is the Goal for the Individual/Team/Company?
Of course, the company’s goal is to increase its profits. However, what does that mean to the individual sales rep and the entire team?
Sit down with the leaders and decision-makers at your company and consider what goals you need to establish for your sales team. This is good practice for any work environment, not just sales. Humans tend to work more efficiently when they have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them as well as a goal to aspire to achieve.
Having clearly-defined goals can also immediately quell any potential for issues between team members. If the overall goal is for the entire team to reach a monthly sales quota, it naturally creates motivation for each person to carry their own weight. If someone is underperforming or struggling, it benefits them to connect with their teammates and understand what works and what does not.
It also sets up a more natural opportunity for you to identify areas for improvement among individual sales reps. This allows management to approach team members to discuss potential issues without leaving them feeling blindsided.
2. Identify the Cause for Employee Turnover
In sales-oriented environments, unexpected resignations or firings can place undue stress on the team and the company in a hurry. Unfortunately, a problem like high turnover rates is not always easy to identify. However, you can take steps to control things on the company side that encourage employees to stay on board and perform to their full potential.
First, consider the current level of compensation your company offers. Speak with your team members and interview former employees regarding their reason for leaving. If compensation is an issue that is repeatedly brought to attention, you can guarantee that it will be a motivation-killer.
Again, your company cannot achieve success without a strong team. Take care of your sales representatives so that they take care of you.
Of course, not all companies can offer the best compensation in the industry. This is why it’s also essential that you communicate expectations for duties and compensation when recruiting and hiring for the role. Never mislead employees about expected pay and do not bait-and-switch new hires by demanding more responsibility than what was agreed upon.
Finally, reassess your interview and hiring process overall. Your role expectations and compensation may be fair and competitive, but you still can end up hiring the wrong person for the role. Though it will take longer to be thorough and interview more candidates, it will pay off in the long run when you do not have to repeat the process.
One employee’s resignation can be reflective of the person. Multiple resignations that lead to a high turnover rate are almost certainly a sign of problems on the company side that you must address immediately.
3. Foster Communication and Collaboration
While micromanaging your employees is a bad idea, that’s not an excuse for you to be absent and avoid communication. As the team leader, you can help to facilitate the type of sales culture you want to see by being an active part of it.
Common strategies for promoting better communication and teamwork are to schedule regular meetings between you and your sales team. These can be short, daily get-togethers or weekly sitdowns that offer a brief reprieve to destress and discuss the week’s activities.
These types of meetings are opportunities for you to encourage the type of democratic environment you want from your sales representatives. They also present opportunities for learning and development that everyone can benefit from equally.
If your employees see you elevating team members because of their successes and helping struggling employees to do better, they will follow your lead.
Be sure to stress that while personal performance is desired and admirable, overall team success is what allows the company and everyone involved to reach new heights.
4. Establish Trust and Respect
Something that often goes overlooked is establishing implicit trust between yourself and the sales rep. Even if the expected duties are reasonable and the compensation is fair, employees will notice a lack of trust or respect and grow to resent you for it.
It’s one thing to check in on a struggling team member, but repeatedly hassling someone with a great track record is a great way to make them check out mentally. Establishing and maintaining that level of trust and respect falls to you.
As mentioned previously, avoid micromanaging any of your employees. While your company should have defined goals and establish helpful strategies, remember that you hire new employees for their talents, knowledge, and experience. If the sales rep is hitting their marks and keeping customers happy, trust them to get their work done like a professional. If they have an issue, they will let you know.
That leads to the second aspect of building trust. If an employee comes to you with feedback, even if it’s tough to swallow, always be willing to listen. Even as an experienced manager, you are not without faults and can just as easily make mistakes. While every company has a hierarchy, you’re ultimately two individuals working together to achieve the same goal.
Listen to your team members, respect their voices, and approach serious discussions with a level of preparation. As long as you remain fair, reasonable, and respectful, your employees will notice and provide you with the same treatment in return.
5. Allow Fun in Your Sales Culture
Finally, encourage your sales team to not only work hard but take time to enjoy themselves. We all spend a significant portion of our lives in the workplace, often spending more hours with coworkers than we do with families. No matter how great the work environment is, this can take a toll on even the best worker if they’re dreading every day to be all work, no play.
Think of ways to keep the workplace interesting and exciting. Surprise employees with unexpected breaks to hang out and chat. Use the occasional company funds to provide food or drink for employees just to break up the usual routine. Even minor changeups to the day can help your sales reps break out of that monotonous loop and get reinvigorated for the rest of the day.
Not all the fun needs to happen in the office, either. If your company can afford it, pay your team to take half a day and head out somewhere fun for casual team-building and rapport. These gestures remind us that we’re all people striving for the same goals. Most companies will not make the effort to do this, so you can be assured that your employees will thank you for it.
Don’t Just Build a Sales Team – Build a Sales Culture Worth Joining!
In summary, start forming your new sales culture by developing the workplace you’d want to be a part of as a promising sales rep. Employees are rightfully expecting more out of employers, which means much more than just compensation. However, none of these expectations are unreasonable and will lead to a healthier work environment not just for them, but for everyone involved.
If you want a healthy, positive, competitive sales culture, use these strategies to create that exact environment for them to thrive. When your employees are satisfied, they will be loyal to you and work hard to achieve their goals. Never forget that employees are what makes a company succeed and you likely won’t go wrong in creating the ideal sales culture.