Strengthening your sales culture is the key factor in building a predictable revenue generating machine. What makes for a strong sales culture? Over the years, we have developed and honed the following sales culture best practices that has led to our own double digit growth.
Through our experience, we know that creating a strong and engaged sales force increases accountability for delivering above-plan performance in a way that supports our company values. It is metrics- driven and predictable. Sales culture is “the way we do things around here”.
Create an Engaged Sales Team
Strong sales cultures are easy to spot; they have an engaged and motivated team that consistently delivers above- plan performance. A weak sales culture relies on heroics – often a few strong performers are driven to make the numbers. Consistency is not present and senior management is anxious of a bad month, quarter, or year.
In our 2016 sales culture survey, we asked sales organizations to rate how happy they are with the current state of their sales culture. The average response was 5.5 out of 10. The need for improvements in sales culture is clear.
Creating a strong sales culture is a combination of structure, process, reward, recognition, compensation, training, leading, motivating, coaching, teaching, providing feedback and more. Focus on these sales culture best practices and you’ll be on the right path to strengthening your sales culture.
The 7 Critical Sales Culture Best Practices:
1. Instill Company Values
Values are the first component of a great sales culture. Be careful that they are lived, not just a poster on the wall. Your leaders are essential to modeling and reinforcing the values to ensure they become a part of everyday work. Be sure that you, as a sales leader, demonstrate them consistently.
2. Have a Coaching Mindset
Great sales cultures view the sales team as a learning organization that can always improve. Exceptional sales managers convey this attitude by looking for opportunities to groom and prime salespeople in the company’s values. Coaching should be a chief activity.
3. Lead Engaging Meetings
Another important part of culture is team gatherings. These can range from casual to formal from team to organization; they can be used to celebrate and reward or inform and set challenges. The best sales cultures have a structure that keeps people connected to the business and drive to surpass the stated goals. Meetings set the tone for your culture so make sure you have sales meetings that motivate.
4. Develop Strong Coaching Skills
Developing strong coaching skills is essential to world class organizations. The winning formula is to question better, confirm more and respond less. To build a strong sales culture, sales managers must lead their team to find the answer themselves. This leads us to the fifth component of a great sales culture:
5. Conduct Effective Two-Way Feedback
One of the most significant factors of our success at DoubleDigit Sales has been our focus on feedback. The most challenging part is breaking the habit of presenting to them what they did well rather than asking. If you tell them, it is one way, but if you ask them, it is now two-way effective feedback. Just as coaching requires both the sales manager and the salesperson to participate, feedback is most effective when it is collaborative.
6. Hire Great Versus Good People
Robin Sharma once said “If you want a good company, hire good people. If you want a great company, hire great people.” At DoubleDigit Sales, we have an acronym that helps us with this – ROOMr:
Recruiting – Strive for great only and be patient to wait for that person.
Onboarding – Ensure vigorous support to help new team members learn their jobs.
Ongoing Management – Once onboarded, do not assume high performance, and once high performing, do not assume it will always continue. Everyone needs to be managed on a consistent basis.
And finally, the ultimate outcome:
retention – Too often we demand retention instead of creating it.
7. Hold Monthly One-on-Ones
The typical One-on-One system lacks structure. The managers tend to have a laundry list of what the salesperson should focus on and the salesperson comes prepared with a “good story”. Follow our world-class One-on-One system to have a dialogue vs. two one-way monologues. Make your monthly meetings:
- Business and person focused
- Future focused
- Strategic first and tactical second
- A series of connected meetings
The sales organizations that do not believe their own press always look to improve. Sales managers are the heart and soul of this consistent improvement. A strong sales culture starts with you, the sales leader. Make some culture changes – try two or three of these sales culture best practices and try to stop two or three things that are not productive. Change is possible.
For the complete sales culture guide, read Engage Me – Strategies from the Sales Effectiveness Source.