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John Becker

By John Becker

Mar 7, 2024


Inbound Sales Sales Process Sales training
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Inbound Sales  |   Sales Process  |   Sales training

Build a Winning Sales Culture: 6 Steps for Sales Managers and Reps

John Becker

By John Becker

Mar 7, 2024

Build a Winning Sales Culture: 6 Steps for Sales Managers and Reps

Sales drives business, but what drives sales?

For too long, we've perpetuated the fallacy that sales is a lone-wolf profession. In every other part of business, we've come to understand that teamwork improves outcomes. We have a leadership team, a marketing team, an R&D team. Each works together to achieve shared goals.

And then we have sales teams, which are teams in name only. Most sales teams are groups of autonomous reps who don't really collaborate and don't often share goals. Instead, each rep has a quota and a book of business.

But this is a broken system.

The key to fixing this problem is changing the culture of our sales teams. Below, we're going to explain what winning sales cultures really look like.

Only about half of all salespeople hit their quotas in a given month or quarter. 


The building blocks of sales team culture

The basic building blocks of a sales culture are simple, but they prove difficult to implement for many.

  •       Healthy communication
  •       Transparency
  •       Company dedication
  •       Shared mission, shared goals
  •       Continuous learning
  •       Data-driven decision making

While each is important, you really need them all to be successful. Creating the right sales culture requires commitment and accountability from the entire company. That means everyone from the CEO down to the newly-hired BRD needs to foster it.

How to build a winning sales culture

Today, we will focus on six steps, broken down for sales managers and sales reps, to help build and maintain a winning sales culture.

Step 1: Create the right starting point

One of the hardest parts of creating change is getting started.

You’ll inevitably experience obstacles along the way, but when you take the time to prepare and map out a plan and strategy, you will be more equipped to begin the process.

To get started, you need to clearly lay out your goals and expectations so that everyone understands their role.

For sales managers:

Sales managers need to help their teams catch the vision. This means helping everyone understand the problem — and see the opportunity. You'll have to communicate your plan and make sure everyone understands their roles. 

This is true for any major change, but it's extra important when it comes to something like culture. Culture is both entrenched and invisible, which makes it especially hard to change.

Half the battle of influencing this type of change is making sure everyone on the team is aligned and shares the same definition and language.

'Culture' is both entrenched and invisible, which makes it especially hard to change.

For sales reps:

Sales reps need to understand the overall sales culture goal, why the change is happening, and what’s expected of you.

If there’s a new process for reviewing sales goals and forecasts, do you know what you need to bring to the meeting to ensure you’re making a useful contribution?

It's also important that you keep your managers in the loop for how you're feeling and what you're seeing on the front lines. This a place for radical candor

Step 2: Collaborate with the marketing team

For a new sales culture to take hold, the sales team can't be so isolated. Friction between sales and marketing has a real impact on company revenue

Businesses who focus on sales and marketing alignment achieved 208% higher revenue than organizations with disjointed teams.

Since marketing and sales are so closely related, ultimately working towards the same end-goal, it’s important to establish a collaborative relationship. This means having a mutual level of trust and transparency — and shared meeting time to align on key goals. 

To build this trusting partnership, you must understand each other’s roles and processes.

For sales managers:

Sales managers need to normalize collaboration between teams. You can encourage your reps to carve out time on a weekly or monthly basis to spend with members of the marketing team. You may consider holding a regular 'revenue team' meeting to ensure everyone is up-to-date and still working towards the same goals.

Revenue team meetings focus on:

  • What sales enablement content the sales reps need
  • Questions that buyers are asking during the sales process
  • What sources are driving the most traffic to the website
  • Updates on lead funnels and sales funnels
  • Upcoming marketing campaigns

This meeting will present the opportunity for an open dialogue between the teams, giving both the chance to hear and understand the others’ challenges and perhaps even offer solutions.  

For sales reps:

Sales reps, you can use this opportunity to also voice your concerns. Perhaps you’ve been using an email template created by the marketing team that just isn’t doing the trick. Bring it up to your team, but make sure your feedback doesn’t sound like an attack.

The key here is to open the lines of communication. Be honest about the results you’ve seen, and see whether they have any suggestions for improvement. Someone on the marketing team will be more than happy to review things with you and will likely be appreciative that you want to know more.

Step 3: Create a shared mission and shared goals

All too often, marketing and sales teams just don't see eye to eye. Sales says marketing isn’t generating good leads. Marketing says sales isn’t following up properly.

The vicious cycle goes on and on, but it doesn’t have to.

Everyone in the organization should share the same language and standards when discussing company processes and the sales pipeline.

And sales and marketing teams should have shared goals — or at least complementary targets.

If marketing is only focused on organic traffic and social media impressions, they're too far away from the numbers that actually represent revenue. 

Marketing is sometimes too far away from the numbers that actually represent revenue. 

The first step is agreeing on a common vocabulary. 

  • Does everyone share the same definition of what makes a lead marketing qualified vs. sales qualified?
  • Are opportunities being added to the pipeline in the same way?
  • Does everyone follow the same process for onboarding new clients? What’s the process for renewal clients?

When the entire organization shares the same language, it provides a shared framework that helps keep the hand-offs simple and prevents people from stepping on each other’s toes.

For sales managers:

Sales managers, when you work with new hires, consider creating a standard practice where you review the words, acronyms, and processes used in the organization.

It will help get your new teammates up-to-speed quickly and make them feel more comfortable and less like an outsider.

At the same time, review your metrics with marketing leaders at regular meetings. Have them do the same. Be familiar with the leading indicators from marketing that predict sales success. 

For sales reps:

Sales reps, it’s all about consistency and quality. You are accountable for using the language and processes created by your organization.

Be aware of whether you’re actually following the guidelines. If you run into any issues or ideas, make note. You are the eyes and ears of the organization and your input is vital to improving upon what’s already in motion.

When you meet with your manager, share you wins AND your losses. you'll learn much more from the latter. 

Step 4: Create an environment of continuous learning

Sales and training. You can’t have one without the other.

Sales professionals, similar to professional athletes, musicians, and actors, require constant preparation and continuous practice.

Just like professional athletes, musicians, and actors, sales pros need constant preparation and continuous practice.

This is why these professionals in all industries perform at such a high level. They know that continuous training and development will prepare them for any and every situation.

In sales, you must also be ready to handle different scenarios like turning around a new objection or thinking quickly on your feet to take a sales conversation in another, more favorable, direction.

For sales managers AND sales reps:

Both sales managers and sales reps can help foster a safe environment for learning and development by testing these ideas:

  • Normalize role-plays. Why would you want to practice when real money is on the line? The more you can role-play specific scenarios, the better you'll perform when it counts. You can role-play to prepare for an upcoming meeting or to retro on one that didn't go well.
  • Focus on call review. Use AI to help you review your calls and look for areas of improvement. Are you using too many filler words? Not asking enough questions? Pitching too hard when you should be building rapport? 
  • Start "lunch and learns". Think of this as an adult version of "show and tell." Each person is responsible for bringing a new, interesting, or useful piece of information to the meeting. This is your chance to share something you’re passionate about, a new tool you've discovered, or a lesson you've learned. 
Use AI to help you review your calls and look for areas of improvement.
  • Improve your weekly meetings. Often, sales meetings just focus on pipeline review, but they're a great time to incorporate training. Watch a call recording together, brainstorm email outreach ideas, or reflect on a recent closed/lost deal. 
  • Work with a coach. Consider bringing in an outside coach or consultant to help your team improve. It’s helpful to have a fresh perspective and outside expertise so you can work through challenges without getting hung up.

Winning sales cultures focus on education so they can foster a healthy team environment where everyone feels supported and valued.

Step 5: Check in

Culture is never finished. You have to stop and assess your progress from time to time. Regular check-in meetings help you be sure you're on track.

For sales managers:

Sales managers, this is your chance to ask for and gather feedback from your reps. Since they are “in the trenches” you can gain useful insights into what’s resonating with the team and what might need to be adjusted.

For sales reps:

Sales reps, use these check-in moments to ask questions, share ideas, and provide feedback. In a winning sales culture, your voice is important and those around you want you to be heard.

Step 6: Check out

Checking in to ensure you’re on track and making progress is an essential piece of building and maintaining a successful sales culture, but, just as important is the notion of “checking out.”

Burnout is real, and sales reps are notorious for having an unhealthy work-life balance.

Check out a little early from the office to go to connect and bond outside of your normal work setting.

Consider a yoga or fitness class. Or a team potluck. 

Sales success is a marathon, not a sprint. You'll need to rejuvenate, whether together or on your own, so you're ready for the long haul.

In a winning sales culture, team building isn’t forced; It’s natural and inclusive of everyone. That means providing different options that speak to a variety of personality types and age groups.

The culture of success

Creating a sales culture takes discipline, commitment, and focus, but the positive results can be massive.

Sales managers and reps can help contribute to the overall success of building and maintaining a winning sales culture by following the six steps explained above.

It's not easy, though. You need support from the entire organization — especially the business owner or leadership team.

To jumpstart your own cultural transformation, reach out to an IMPACT coach. We offer workshops and full-suite training for sales teams of all shapes and sizes

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