Does your office have a ping pong table? How about a few beers on tap at all times? What about fun office-wide outings? This is the kind of sales culture that can attract great sales talent, and keep your team happy and engaged at the office.

Culture is defined as the collection of beliefs, behaviors and values that define the personality of your organization. Culture also isn’t fixed – it builds and changes over time as new people enter the organization and others leave. Every company loves to brag about having a great culture, but how do you really create a lasting and positive culture on your sales team? Here’s how to recognize when your sales culture is broken, and what you need to do to fix it.

Signs of Bad Culture

The signs of a negative sales culture are very clear, and can be seriously damaging to your company. You know your culture is broken if you face any of these problems:

  • A high turnover rate for sales reps
  • A lengthening sales cycle combined with smaller deal size
  • Resentment or tense rivalries between sales reps
  • Bad attitude toward management
  • No desire to spend time together as a team outside the office or beyond working hours

Culture is important because these problems don’t just make your office an unpleasant place to work, it can also hurt your sales results significantly. While some companies with terrible culture still manage to hit sales goals, a worsening culture will drag your team down over time. Bad culture often means you’re not attracting top sales talent, and you’re losing reps to turnover before they contribute meaningfully to the company. It also means that some reps simply don’t work as hard as they could because of the negative work environment. All of this harms your team’s productivity and growth in the long-term.

Change the Culture

If these bad signs seem familiar to you, it’s time to make immediate changes to improve your sales culture. Start with taking a close look at your own management style, and begin to change how you treat your reps, so hopefully they’ll begin to treat each other differently as well. You want your sales reps to enjoy being at work, work hard towards goals, and feel proud to be a part of the sales team.

To build a positive sales culture, you need:

  • Healthy Competition: As a manager, you want to foster competition between your reps in a constructive and fun way, eliminating any negativity or backstabbing behavior on your team. Create exciting sales contests that drive reps to work hard, but make sure the stakes aren’t so high that they resent each other. While reps will always compete to sell the most, you also have to emphasize that they’re not just individuals, but part of a team working toward a common goal.
  • Acknowledgement of Success and Failure: Celebrating when the team hits the sales goals is a very important part of building a strong team, but so is talking positively and constructively about failure. While you should definitely take your team out for a celebratory dinner after a great quarter, it’s equally important to address issues If your team missed their goal this quarter. You shouldn’t berate your team when sales are down. Instead, talk calmly through the challenges you’ve all been facing and come up with constructive and productive ways to work as a team to improve your sales results next month.
  • Continuous Learning: Great sales teams allow reps to grow and improve their skills, instead of remaining stagnant. As the manager, you need to foster a learning environment with continuous coaching and training for reps. You should set aside an hour each week with each rep to work on individual sales coaching, and also hold team-wide training sessions to improve sales skills. This growth opportunity will help reps feel like they’re improving themselves and bettering their career skills, so they’ll be less likely to leave for another position.

Learn More About Effective Sales Coaching»

  • Delegated Responsibility: No one enjoys being micromanaged, and part of creating a great sales culture is trusting your employees. By telling reps that they have your trust, you’re giving them responsibility and challenging them to succeed. Some reps may fail, but others will surprise you and do more than you ever expected. An attitude of trust can go a long way to improve your team dynamic and make for much happier employees.
  • Fun: Amid so many day-to-day worries about sales performance and goals, many sales managers can forget about having fun. But creating a positive culture on your team really all comes down to enjoyment. You want to build a team of people who enjoy working together, spending time together, and genuinely have fun together at the office. Whether your culture of fun comes from a weekly game night or a monthly outing to a bar, you can set the tone for a more lighthearted and fun workplace.

It can sometimes be difficult to make big changes to a sales team that is working well enough. However, if you want to see positive long-term growth on your team, you simply cannot ignore the sales culture. You can make your office a better place to work by loosening up a little, having fun, teaching reps new skills, and creating an environment where reps can grow and learn. With these ideas in mind, you can change your culture and better your company.

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