How to Create a High-Performing Sales Culture

Every sales leader wants a productive, efficient, and effective sales team that can hit quota. And in today's competitive business environment, sales teams are increasingly chasing more aggressive goals with greater pressure to over-achieve. But what does a high-performing sales culture look like and why is it important?

A majority of B2B organizations struggle with sales performance:

•     2/3 of sales reps fail to hit quota (Aberdeen)

•    Sales productivity is the #1 challenge for 65 percent of B2B organizations (The Bridge Group)

•    Sales reps spend about 50 full days away from core selling activities each year (Domo)

Sales culture is important because the efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity of an organization’s sales force has a direct and significant impact on revenue. Research from Harvard Business Review (HBR) indicates “high-performing sales cultures are characterized by an ability to align (gain clarity on vision, strategy, and shared employee behaviors), execute (move in the agreed-upon direction with minimal friction), and renew (continuously improve at a pace that exceeds competitors)”. Collectively, these factors encompass ‘organizational culture’.

These 6 characteristics are key to creating a high-performing sales culture:

1) A Data-Driven Mindset

Sales leaders must track the right metrics and then be able to gain actionable insights from that information. Companies can use KPIs such as conversion rates, win rates, marketing collateral usage, average deal size, sales cycle length, and deal response time to understand what factors impact successes, how to deliver the right content at the right time, and what changes will improve performance. But before embarking on any metric mission, make sure you understand what you are measuring, why it’s important, and how it affects sales strategy and processes.

2) Dedication to Ongoing Training

Only 55% of companies have a formal sales training process. However, continuous training can yield up to 50% higher net sales per rep. Sales teams rely on training, guidance, and coaching to learn how to sell and how to do so effectively. They need to be trained on the competitive landscape, buyer personas, and the products, as well as on what to say, what content to provide, and how to steer prospects through the sales cycle. This information changes over time, so sales training must be ongoing.

3) Healthy Competition

Gamification introduces a healthy level of competition to your sales team; it takes the concepts and addicting elements of games and applies them to real-world activities. According to Salesforce, 71 percent of companies that implemented gamification saw an 11 to 50 percent increase in sales performance, and 9 out of 10 companies reported that their gamification initiatives were successful. Research from Aberdeen revealed that 31% more first-year reps achieve quota when supported with game mechanics. If implemented correctly, gamification educates, influences, and rewards the behavior of a sales organization.

4) Shared Goals

Everybody in the sales organization should share a common vision. Unfortunately, over half of B2B executives indicate their employees don’t understand their company’s strategy, according to HBR research. Sales leaders must outline a consistent sales process and then set specific objectives around those activities. Companies that follow a defined workflow are 33 percent more likely to be high performers.

5) A Collaborative Environment

According to Gallup, 70 percent of sales people feel disengaged from their work. And with more reps working remotely than ever before, your sales force may feel disconnected and be missing out on valuable feedback on performance, as well as the opportunity to learn from peers. Collaboration encourages sales teams to work with instead of against each other, leveraging best practices and increasing efficiency. The 20/60/20 rule says that 20 percent of your sales reps are top performers, leaving a majority of your team with room for improvement. Those trying to hit quota should look to top performers for guidance and work to turn best practices into habits.

6) Access to the Right Tools

Invest in the resources to make your sales reps successful and help them do their job efficiently and effectively. Optimized sales performance often comes down to streamlining workflow and eliminating superfluous tasks. These tools can have a major impact on reducing the daily ‘noise’ for sales reps and can make individual sales contributors significantly more productive.

About the Author

Shelley Cernel is the Senior Marketing Manager for KnowledgeTree.

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