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The Intersection of Culture and Sales Performance

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Posted in:  Company, Sales
the intersection of culture and sales performance

There is a secret ingredient to sales success.

It’s not the latest and greatest playbook, or a conversational intelligence tool, or even hiring top sales trainers.

What will help your sales team win time and time again is your company culture.

Today, culture and revenue have never been so closely intertwined. The last year has changed the market – organizations are rethinking how to support their sales teams in terms of ongoing development and retention.

Why? Because consistent sales performance hinges on rep productivity. And high rep productivity requires a company culture that values developing salespeople to be the best they can be.

Recently, I explored this topic with Ignite Selling’s Steve Gielda at AA-ISP Virtual Sales Summit during a panel discussion on How to Grow, Develop, and Scale Your Sales Team.

From this conversation emerged strategies for leaders to get the most from their teams – including the following five ways you can create a culture that drives sales performance.

Build a Foundation of Belonging

Above all, leaders have a responsibility to create an environment where all employees feel safe, heard, welcome, and encouraged to bring their full and unique selves to the workplace. Not only is this key to attracting diverse candidates to join your team, it is absolutely essential to retaining them.

We’ve entered the era of authenticity over conformity. And the world of sales is drastically changing because of it. Leaders are embracing input and two-way dialogues with employees whose backgrounds and expertise vary from their own. And gone are the days of cookie-cutter scripts – it’s now more important than ever for sellers to bring their individuality to every deal.

A company that embraces diversity in every way – from gender to thoughts – creates an environment where people have the freedom to be who they are. This is a cornerstone of employee satisfaction, and selling success is next to impossible without it. Business case aside – embracing diversity and building a culture of belonging is simply the right thing to do.

Rethink What Matters

You may be achieving revenue targets, but far too often it’s only because a few star performers are carrying the team. It’s a hard fact to face – if people aren’t hitting their quota, they won’t be happy. And it’s only a matter of time before the business faces serious consequences such as low morale, attrition, and stagnant business growth.

Rather than focusing solely on revenue targets, at Highspot we shifted our attention to improving the Participation Rate – the percentage of reps who are making their quota.

Companies run into trouble when sellers don’t see how the business is helping them to consistently hit their number. A pillar of your sales culture should be equipping every rep to succeed. Not only will this lead to a more engaged salesforce, it will also drive consistent performance across the team.

Take Training – and Mentorship – Seriously

Are you guilty of providing generic training? Most companies have made this mistake at least once, reinforcing sales training’s bad reputation. In reality, training done right is one of the most important investments your business can make and an integral part of every thriving sales culture.

You need to be aligned, precise, and prescriptive about the skills your sellers need to master and how they can apply them in the real world. It’s not enough to teach skills in the classroom – the most successful organizations are crisp and clear on the desired business outcomes and what behavioral change they need to drive with the reps. For actionable tips on how to help your team master and apply winning behaviors, get your copy of The Definitive Guide to Sales Training & Coaching.

In addition to delivering stellar training, implementing a mentorship program can be instrumental in the development of your people. Your employees are likely hungry for growth, and a mentorship program checks the box for all involved. Mentees are more likely to get promoted, while mentors benefit from the exposure to new ideas and fresh perspectives. What better way to bolster sales success while simultaneously empowering the next generation of leaders?

Empower Your Managers

When it comes to improving your sellers’ performance, managers play a massive role. As Steve explained:

“Managers are often overlooked in terms of what their role is in retaining top talent. Sales managers are often promoted because they’re great salespeople, but that doesn’t mean that they’re great managers – it’s a totally different skill set. It needs to be treated as the pivotal role it is – a sales manager can make or break whether a seller stays with your company.”

Leaders would do well to prioritize enabling their sales managers, not just on the product, but on how to effectively coach their reps. This creates ownership and accountability – two important cultural aspects of your sales organization.

Remember, It’s Not All About the Numbers

A Harvard Business Review study found that 70% of people left a company not because of money, but because they weren’t challenged.

Just because your top performers are making a lot of money doesn’t mean they’re content. Leaders often ignore top performers – but the truth is even these employees may be tempted to leave if they are not challenged, engaged, and growing in their careers.

To combat this, help your people see how they are directly contributing to the company, give them responsibilities outside of revenue jobs, and provide support in earning the next role. Steve shared:

“Listen closely, and make sure they understand what their role is on the team and at the company. People often leave organizations because they don’t feel like they are a true contributor. They feel like an asset hired to drive numbers. As leaders, we need to include them in the bigger picture, and ensure they see the alignment between what they do on the job and how it impacts the bottom line. When people understand the direction the company is going and the role they play, the more they feel challenged not only by the organization, but by themselves.”

When People Come First, Sales Performance Follows

Creating a culture that puts people first is the first step toward driving consistent performance.

To learn more about how you can grow, develop, and scale your sales team in 2021, tune into the recorded panel discussion.

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