April 27, 2013 | 4 min. read

10 Elements of a Sales Culture that Dominates

Strengthening your sales culture is the number one ingredient for building a revenue machine. Unfortunately, most companies think an aggressive comp plan that pressures on high quota attainment will get the job done. They’re wrong.

We’ve been inspired by our own learnings as well as those from leaders around the world. Below we’ve listed the top 10 elements of a winning sales culture:

#1 Hire the right people

This is absolutely critical. If you don’t bring on passionate and capable individuals, you’re planting the seeds of your own destruction. Poor performers not only kill morale but will also hire other poor performers who won’t make them look bad. It’s always better to take longer to hire the right fit than to bring on someone who is merely “functional.” Catch Derek Grant of Pardot‘s short videos with tips on how to avoid false starts with sales hires.

#2 Deliver quality training

Truly great people also have an interest in continuously improving and becoming the best. By providing quality training, you motivate great people to come and stay with your company. You also create a consistent pipeline of talent and ensure quality across the board. Steve Richard of Vorsight is a great resource to learn more about sales training.

#3 Develop well-defined goals

It’s the manager’s job to handle ambiguity and form a path forward. Creating structure allows employees to execute and trust your leadership. Setting milestones and communicating them across the team goes a long way.

#4 Install Process

It has been consistently shown that repetitive interactions inspire success. Facilitate a culture of collaboration and allow your sales organization to benefit from a well built, strategic sales process. The team at Rivarly has created a simple sales process map that can help with this.

#5 Provide recognition over metrics

This is the easiest one on the list. Recognize achievement and effort on all levels. Praise character, mentorship and external metrics of success publicly and keep morale high. Put your winners in the limelight so that others will strive to be like them.

#6 Benchmark the competition

You benchmark the competition to understand whether your success is attributable to favorable market conditions or if you’re truly competitive in your field. When the good times end, it’s always the underperforming companies that plunge first. Check out the Outbound Index’s sales data for one of the best benchmarks for inside sales.

#7 Promote friendly rivalry & celebrate wins

Push is often just as important as pull when it comes to motivating people. Put contests together and be intentional about spliffs. Celebrate as a team when things go well. Get out of the office a few evenings each month to help the team bond.

#8 Strategically retain employees

This is especially true in startups. Hire slowly, fire quickly. When you find out you have a bad apple you have to do something about it. The last thing you want is for it to infect the rest of the lot.

#9 Promote talent development

Establish systems that allow great sales reps to advance past just their current jobs. Give them opportunities to learn about product development, finance, marketing and management. It will let you build a leadership pipeline and will give sales reps a ladder to climb up.

#10 Provide fantastic tools

Don’t do anything to set back your sales champions. Invest time and money in the tools they need. Frequently managers thrust new software on reps without their input. You should go the other direction. Ask them what they want and recommend they seek out what they’re interested in. This will get them excited about productivity instead of bogged down when your current tools are bumming them out. A low-impact place to start is with these free sales tools. Then you can elevate to bigger investments.

Many of these strategies are interconnected. Businesses that make a conscious effort to employ a range of these approaches ultimately build the strongest sales culture.

Remember: you could have a great product, awesome operations team, fantastic support, and solid marketing, but if your sales warriors are not dominating, it’s most likely that you haven’t built a solid sales culture. Our Chairman, David Cummings has become famous for building rockstar sales cultures in his companies. He postures that that 99% of software products don’t sell themselves and gives some great examples as well. Use the ideas above as well as his to make your sales culture something to talk about.

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