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Building a winning sales culture is essential for optimizing business operations. It has far-reaching implications on all aspects of your business, from employee satisfaction, to productivity, to profit margins.

When sales teams fail to meet targets, managers all too often fail to identify the root cause. They might hire more staff, change leadership staff, or revamp the sales strategy.

Often, it’s more complex than that and can be attributed to a poor company culture. That’s why we have curated some top tips and tricks for improving your sales culture.

What is a winning sales culture?

A winning sales culture is a reflection of the attitudes, habits, and behaviors of your sales team. Sales can be a stressful job! Facing rejections, quotas, and competition every day can definitely take a toll on someone.


Because of this, sales teams may experience low morale, which leads to more missed sales targets and a deteriorating sense of mission. Even the most successful sales manager can falter if they sense a lack of control.

Your culture should reflect the values, aspirations, and morals of your business. It is the foundation of every business as it reflects the "sales teams’ behavior, communication, and working style". Thus, the responsibility to create a positive sales culture falls on the sales leaders.

This is crucial for boosting sales performance and productivity. In fact, a survey by Gallup found that engaged and well-managed teams see 17% higher productivity, 20% higher sales, and 21% higher profitability.

So, what makes a winning culture? Well, here are some of the most important building blocks:

  • Proactive Communication
  • Full Transparency
  • Company Dedication
  • Shared Mission
  • Continuous Learning
  • Data-Driven Decision Making

While, at first, these considerations seem simple, many businesses actually find them hard to implement. It often requires commitment and accountability from the whole company - not just the sales team.

7 Steps to building a winning sales culture

7 Steps To Building A Winning Sales Culture

The thought of building and maintaining this culture can be daunting. But it’s fully worthwhile in the long run!

As Brian Kristofek , President and CEO of Upshot, puts it: “Being a great place to work is the difference between being a good company and a great company.”

Below are some of the top strategies that you can use to for creating a winning sales culture. One that inspires, motivates and yields a successful outcome.

1. Hire individuals who fit the company culture

Hire Individuals Who Fit The Company Culture

A company is only as good as its people, and this is no different for a sales team. In the experience of many recruiters, it’s easy to teach new skills to people that are willing to learn. However, it’s much harder to change someone's intrinsic character, personality, and attitude.

So, it is crucial that your sales recruiters know exactly what to look for in a candidate and are clued up on your company culture. For example, a Columbia University study shows that the likelihood of job turnover at an organization with a rich and upheld company culture is just 13.9%, whilst this is 48.4% in organizations with a poor company culture.

Team members with a negative attitude impact upon the entire team, thereby dragging down sales team motivation. They might have a big ego or poor work ethic, which could spread among the team. On the other hand, individuals with a team-player mindset and infectious positivity will drive success!

2. Set clear goals and expectations

Clear, valid goals and expectations drive sales team motivation. Without them, your team might lose momentum. A balance must be struck.

Goals need to be challenging enough to engage salespeople, but also realistic. What is your team capable of achieving? Show them you know what they are capable of with high achieving targets. When they succeed, they will have a surge of morale.

Data is essential for setting these targets. Examine your success history with different products for example. Analyze and draw conclusions before explaining to your sales team where these figures come from. Also, monitor progress and mentor your team accordingly. See how you can help struggling individuals through one-on-one mentoring. This way, your sales team feels valued and supported.

Consider activity-based sales targets like encouraging an individual to perform 30 product pitches. This replaces the traditional targets that require an individual to sell a certain number of a product. The latter imposes frequent rejections and stressors upon sales reps, which is removed with activity-based targets. This is all the more important now we know how much sales teams struggle with morale.

Sales workers rarely have control over who buys their products and how many they can sell in a given time. Setting these types of goals relieves the pressure on the team, boosts confidence, whilst still working towards a target.

3. Engage and incentivize

Engage And Incentivize

To give your team that extra push they need, consider providing sales incentives. With a sales incentives program, you can reward your team for hard work and show them that your company values their efforts. This method has been successfully tried and tested. Research shows that incentives boost performance by 27% - resulting in more wins and sales.

This then feeds back with each successful team member returning to work with a positive mindset after achieving their target. Using Xoxoday Compass, you can easily create and manage sales incentive programs so that both you and your sales team can enjoy the benefits.

Engage And Incentivize

Studies show that if your employees are engaged and working toward something, it can result in up to 21% greater profitability! This is a win-win situation for both you and your sales team.  

4. Promote learning and development

Promote Learning And Development

Your team’s goals don’t have to be one-dimensional. Beyond numerical targets, think about the career goals of different individuals. What are their strengths and weaknesses? What motivates each of them?

By identifying this, you can enhance a team member’s skills through learning and development. IBM reported that an increase in skills level linked to business value can result in a 10% increase in productivity when teams are well trained.

Consider monitoring specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to streamline the focus on improvement. If your team knows that you are investing in their professional development, they are more likely to invest back and be more productive.

5. Create a strong team (and enjoy it!)

Create A Strong Team (And Enjoy It!)

A sales team is a team for a reason, they cooperate and support one another. Undeniably, healthy competition drives individuals to maximize their productivity. However, if this gets too out of hand, your employees can find themselves in a toxic working culture. What was once lighthearted rivalries becomes a breakdown of communication.

The very professional nature of sales can encourage this kind of competition. So, it’s all the more important to keep an eye out for it and educate your sales team.

Show them how the success of one individual does not equal revenue targets. After all, 75% of business buyers say that connected processes are very important to winning their business. The performance of the team as a whole, rather than that of a certain individual, is what matters.

Consider organizing meetings to share success stories that inspire your team. Similarly, share what you have learned from failures.

You want to keep the idea of a team at the forefront of your sales culture. Good rapport and camaraderie should be encouraged. Organizing activities or events on company time for the pure purpose of having fun will help this positive culture to flourish.

6. Learn from failures

Learn From Failures

Experiencing some form of failure in sales is to be expected. However, you can be tactical about this if you’re trying to build a winning sales culture.

First and foremost, remind your team that failure is okay - provided they recover quickly and learn from it. Ensure your team is also well equipped to deal with failure.

After all, Daniel Pink, New York Times Bestseller, once said “One of the best predictors of ultimate success … isn't natural talent or even industry expertise, but how you explain your failures and rejections.”

Train them to keep an eye out for patterns that might clarify why certain prospects or sales strategies fail. In turn, they will recognize what works and implement these instead. Not only does this refine sales processes, but it will yield more successful outcomes that boost team morale and productivity.

7. Inspire passion and trust

Inspire Passion And Trust

Effective communication is the key to a winning sales culture. It builds trust between colleagues and ensures that the company vision is always at the top of the mind.

As Mark Sanborn, a successful entrepreneur, puts it, “In teamwork, silence isn’t golden. It’s deadly”.

So, it’s very important to discuss and share your company’s long-term goals with your sales team. Open communication is crucial! Listen to their opinions and take them on board. If your staff feel heard, the company’s goal becomes a mutual goal. As such, team members feel more passionate about each goal and work harder to achieve them.

Communicating the goal should stem from the top down. This way, each member of the sales team is aware of the bigger picture and how their work contributes to it.

In a nutshell

Building a winning sales culture kills two birds with one stone. A happy, motivated team will go that extra mile to boost revenue. In turn, your business will go from strength to strength. Seek out candidates that align with your company culture, and focus on creating a positive work environment.

Employee career satisfaction is the fundamental building block in curating your company culture. Mentor them, train them, support them, and reward them! Implementing sales team incentives with Xoxoday Compass software is the perfect way to drive productivity and success.

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Adie Marais