Do You Have a Great Sales Culture?


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Every sales team has a sales culture.  Great ones are rare.  They take a tremendous amount of work to establish and maintain.  But most Sales Leaders don’t plan to have a great one.  Why?

Sales teams can make the number one year with a lousy sales culture.  They land the big deal or rely on a great product. But lousy sales cultures actually prevent sales from happening.  Consistent growth long term (more than 2 years) requires a healthy culture. Understanding where yours is and what to do about it is essential for growth.

How can you notice a terrible sales culture?  Look for:

  • High sales rep turnover
  • High cost of sales
  • Decreasing average deal size
  • Backstabbing your peers and leaders
  • Punishing people for failing

Sales Vice Presidents are directly responsible for creating and maintaining an excellent sales culture.  Yet most don’t know how to assess and change one. 

Download our Sales Culture Assessment. It is a simple 10 question test that:

  • Assesses your sales culture.  It will baseline the current state.
    • It asks questions like: Do Sales People want to work for you?  Or is it tough to fill your roles?
  • Give you tips and techniques to improve it.
  • Provides best practices on what a great one looks like.

Sales Culture Assessment

But what is a Sales Culture?

A Sales Culture encompasses specific beliefs and behaviors that becomes a motivator of success. When integrated into the organization, it becomes the key contributor to long term results.  It affects all sales people and revolutionizes the organization’s ability to connect.  Connect with prospects, customers, and partners in a meaningful way.

Cultures are built over time.  They evolve from a mix of past sales leaders and current sales people.  But they also evolve from processes that do or don’t exist.  The best ones have great results with low turnover.  Below average have exactly the opposite.

There are 6 core fundamentals that make a great Sales Culture:

  1. Celebration of Success and Failure:  Celebrating success is easy.  Do you actually celebrate failure?  This is everyone admitting they screwed up.  And discussing this openly so everyone can learn.  It takes courage and resolve to publicly admit your mistake.  But what a learning experience.
  2. Genuine Trust throughout:   Can I trust you?  Do you have my best interests in mind?  Can I count on you when the going gets tough?  These three questions are the core of creating a trusting culture.  Most organizations cannot pull this off. But those that can are the ones with a great Sales Culture.  Their sales people will literally run through walls.  Why?  We all have tough times in our sales careers.  It is the times when we struggle that we need trust the most.

  3. Healthy Competition: This really means:  “I am going to beat you.  But I am also going to help you beat me.”  The best want to compete with the best.  Helping your peers actually pushes yourself to be better.  This one Sales Culture fundamental drives out complacency.

  4. Continuously Improving: Complacency is the opposite of success.  You are never standing still.  Either you are getting ahead or falling behind.  Great cultures push people to get ahead.

  5. Agile: Great cultures are super quick with change.  They notice how the customer is behaving and make adjustments immediately. Reacting and updating internal processes quickly is at their core.  Flexibility is king.

  6. Fun: The greatest Sale Cultures in the world are fun places to work.  But it’s not about ‘having fun’.  It is about the people you work with are fun.  Here is a simple test:  Don’t communicate with your peers over a long holiday weekend.  Do you miss them?  Great sales cultures miss communicating with each other quickly.

Assessing if you have these Sales Culture fundamentals is crucial to improvement.  You cannot fix the culture without knowing what to address.  And this takes time-time to build and develop.

Call to Action:

  • Understand what type of Sales Culture you have.  Complete a formal assessment.  This is not a ‘go by the gut’ type  of thing.
  • Identify the ‘Culture Killers’.  These are people who are creating a negative environment.  Weed these people out.
  • Plan how you are going to improve the Sales Culture.  It sounds odd.  But you cannot change the Sales Culture without deliberately planning for it.  Make it public about what you are doing.  Shout it from the mountain tops that the Sales Culture is going to improve. Celebrate successes and failures.  And then plan for it and begin.
  • Be patient.  This is like painting the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.  Once you think you are done, it starts all over again. 

Great and poor Sale Cultures feed upon themselves.  Great ones are self-serving.  The best sales people work for the best Sales Cultures.  The company makes the number every year and life is good.  Poor ones are self-defeating.  The company struggles to make the number each year and life is not good.  Work on creating the great Sales Culture.  Your sales people will have better lives.  And you can have the ideal life.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dan Perry
Dan is an industry thought leader with more than 25 years of experience in b-to-b field sales, sales management, and sales operations. Dan has delivered domestic and international results for companies such as Hewlett Packard, Terremark Worldwide, Dow Jones, Activant Solutions, Kronos, CDS Global, Microsemi.


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