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Updated Apr 04, 2024

9 Ways to Build a Positive Sales Culture

Your company's future is in your sales team's hands. Ensure they're motivated and successful.

Megan Totka, Community Member
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Every company must bring in sales revenue to survive and thrive. However, businesses with in-house sales teams rely on their sales professionals much more than brick-and-mortar retailers, professional organizations and e-commerce businesses. When you’re selling big-ticket items that require in-person interactions, sales team members are the face of your business. 

A knowledgeable, professional, ethical, motivated and collaborative sales team is crucial. Anything less will reflect poorly on your company. We’ll highlight nine tips for building a positive sales culture and share critical factors that make a sales team truly successful. 

What is a sales culture and why is it important?

The term “sales culture” encompasses your sales team members’ attitudes, values and habits. A winning sales culture usually can be summarized in a few words describing their values ― for example, ethical, motivated and professional.

A positive sales culture increases your team’s buy-in and makes every representative a sales leader. Additionally, your team dynamics will improve and individual sales reps are more likely to strive for professional growth and development. 

Your sales culture defines how salespeople are expected to interact with each other and potential customers. Without a clearly delineated and positive sales culture, no sales strategy is complete and sales success may be limited.

TipBottom line
A sales account management strategy is also crucial. Ensure you identify the most important clients, add value for them and monitor your account managers' performance.

How do you develop a sales culture?

Here are nine ways to build a positive sales culture.

1. Hire salespeople slowly and deliberately.

While growing employees is key to growing your business, many fast-growing companies often “panic hire” anyone with adequate qualifications to meet demand. However, settling for “adequate” employees can kill your sales culture. 

Instead, take time to hire people who fit your company’s culture overall and your ideal sales culture specifically. Make a checklist of the characteristics your ideal salespeople will need to create a cohesive sales organization. They must be able to communicate your company’s mission and vision to potential customers. 

For example, say your sales organization prioritizes teamwork. In this case, your human resources (HR) department might seek recent college grads who were collegiate athletes and know how to work as a team to achieve goals.

Gather your leadership team and work together to define your sales culture and the characteristics your salespeople must embody to succeed within it.

2. Monitor your sales team’s daily activities.

A nurse or doctor wouldn’t glance at you and give you a diagnosis. They would run tests, analyze your situation, explain what’s happening and suggest a treatment plan. 

You must do the same for your sales team. Take a metrics-based approach to managing your sales team’s daily activities and goals. However, don’t let those metrics stand in the way of genuine human interaction, positive reinforcement and the chemistry needed for an excellent sales team.

A deep understanding of the sales pipeline ― from first contact to closing ― gives sales leaders the necessary data to make adjustments that increase productivity and boost team happiness. For example, say a sales manager examines a key performance indicator (KPI) that indicates a rep should follow up with a lead sooner. They can use this information to encourage behavioral changes. This approach can help foster a positive sales culture.

FYIDid you know
Implement customer relationship management software and workflow automation solutions to streamline mundane tasks. Your reps will have more time and freedom to listen to their customers' needs and create a responsive sales culture.

3. Acknowledge successes and failures.

Celebrating when your team hits a sales goal is crucial to building a strong sales team that’s willing to go the extra mile. But you must also discuss failures and goals that fell short positively and constructively. 

Don’t criticize the team if sales aren’t as high as hoped. However, discuss their challenges so you can address them and help improve next month’s sales goals. Creating a culture of learning, understanding and growing can encourage a positive sales culture.

4. Drum up some healthy competition.

Stirring up healthy workplace competition can boost results and strengthen your sales culture. However, it should be fun, not stressful. Eliminate and avoid negative behavior and encourage your reps to cheer each other on. For example, create sales contests that compel team members to work diligently and ensure the stakes aren’t too high ― you don’t want your team to feel resentful. 

While individual competition is often natural for sales reps, try focusing on team goals so everyone works toward a common objective. If your sales situation includes territories, ensure every territory is outlined clearly so your reps aren’t tempted to poach clients or undermine each other.

5. Emphasize activity over results.

Sales are all about numbers and that won’t ever change. Whoever sees the most qualified prospects in the least time has the best chance of high sales. Salespeople can’t fully control who buys and who doesn’t. 

For this reason, sales managers should encourage teams to increase their activity to boost their results. However, quality and follow-through are still crucial. 

To foster your team’s long-term success, keep activity high while establishing a repeatable sales process that focuses on sales message quality. Automated marketing solutions can help by customizing messages based on prospect behavior. With this guidance, the salesperson knows the prospect’s interests before making a sales pitch.

TipBottom line
Encourage your salespeople to interact with prospects on social media. According to LinkedIn, 78 percent of sales reps who use social selling outsell their peers.

6. Boost salespeople’s self-esteem.

Salespeople are often the highest-income earners in your business, but that pay doesn’t come easily. Salespeople have a difficult role and unique challenges because they battle rejection daily. If you want them to produce, you must share how honorable it is to be a sales rep for your company. Put the position’s importance on a pedestal and highlight how pivotal it is to the success of your business.

7. Learn to recognize your team’s successes.

Recognize your sales team’s leaders publicly. Creating an incentive plan that drives activity is a quick way to boost results. Employee bonuses and prizes are often tied to production, but even affordable incentives can result in an immediate activity spike. Remember to maintain a high-energy environment. 

Working in sales can crush even the biggest of egos as positivity is necessary to keep your employees persevering in the face of rejection. Keep things light with friendly competition, publicly acknowledge your top salespeople and share tips for success. Gamifying sales and publicly rewarding successes is a great strategy that can motivate your team.

8. Master the process of training your salespeople.

Investing in employee training pays dividends, giving them the tools necessary for success in their position. Positive sales cultures have systems that help salespeople learn and achieve their goals. Training is crucial for new employees, but ongoing professional development for your sales team is also essential. 

Observe reps on phone calls and offer ideas as they plan how to approach prospects. Third-party training courses are helpful, but the most important thing is to get your sales team to share ideas and best practices.

TipBottom line
Some of the best HR software has performance management tools that can help improve sales tactics. Read our monday CRM software review to learn how this solution can help you track and improve employee performance.

9. Reduce time spent on meetings and paperwork.

By nature, salespeople are go-getters who want to be engaged in generating new business. Since they are also among your most valuable employees, it makes sense to let them spend the vast majority of their time doing what brings them satisfaction ― and brings you revenue. 

While team-building exercises are great, try to limit the time your reps spend in sales meetings. A good sales pipeline tracking system can also help limit the time it takes to create sales reports, freeing your sales reps for more vital activities.  

What makes a successful sales team?

The hallmarks of a successful sales team extend beyond what can be taught in sales coaching. A successful sales team does the following:

  • A successful sales team has charisma: An uninteresting group of sales reps will struggle to make sales. In contrast, a team with chemistry and charisma will feed off each other. 
  • A successful sales team spends ample time with customers: Customers may be more likely to purchase your product if they feel valued and appreciated. Spending ample time with them ensures they know they’re important.
  • A successful sales team continues to learn: A major part of sales is learning about the market, your customer base and new challenges existing and prospective customers face.
  • A successful sales team sets a structured sales target and sticks to it: Firmly outlined goals and methods, with room for some flexibility, make for a consistent sales experience.
  • A successful sales team is accountable: A sales team with a positive sales culture holds team members accountable to individual goals and the team’s shared vision. In a winning sales culture, working with the team’s boundaries is key.
  • A successful sales team communicates: A sales team with a positive sales culture communicates well with each other, the entire company and outside the company. As in any field, proper communication ensures people receive all the information, ideas and data they need.
  • A successful sales team manages time well: Sales work can get busy, but a good sales team always knows how to divide and conquer.
  • A successful sales team makes promises they can keep: Dropping the ball or overextending oneself is a common yet easily avoidable mistake. 
  • A successful sales team celebrates wins: A sales team with a positive sales culture celebrates when hitting KPIs and targets. Positive reinforcement is a crucial component of a winning sales culture.

Most businesses are well aware of sales culture problems ― and that a negative sales culture can hinder success. Signs you need to change the workplace culture in your sales department include the following: 

  • High sales representative turnover
  • Resentment and rivalries among reps
  • Poor employee attitudes toward a sales manager or leadership 
  • A general lack of camaraderie

Jennifer Dublino contributed to this article.

Megan Totka, Community Member
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.
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