Developing a Great Sales Culture and Sales Traditions

I believe that your people are your biggest asset.  And on a Sales Team your sales professionals will be either engaged or disengaged based both on your company’s and your Sales Team’s own culture.  I care personally about building a positive and high-performance corporate culture and Sales Culture that attract and retains A-players. And a great Sales Culture is a very powerful asset at the core of every Sales Team’s foundation and is part of the “organizational health” of your Sales Org.

But what exactly is a Sales Culture?  First of all it is a type of “organizational culture” that is directly related to the Sales Team and an “Organizational culture is the sum of values and rituals which serve as a glue to integrate the members of the organization” (defined by Richard Perrin who is a Partner at KPMG Consulting).

But interestingly there is actually no universal definition of what an organizational culture actually is – Wikipedia on Company Culture has a couple of helpful insights:

  • a culture is the set of behaviors that employees exhibit and the meanings that they attach to those behaviors
  • the culture represents everyone’s collective values, beliefs, and principles
  • it includes the vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, beliefs, and habits

Several years ago, Dharmesh Shah, the Co-Founder of HubSpot referred to the culture as “The operating system that powers our organization”. The Sales Culture similarly powers your sales organization.

Also, the culture it affects relations among the sales reps, regional Sales VPs and Sales Directors, managers, sales enablement employees, and even customers.  And all smart CROs / VPs of Sales care about proactively developing the right culture as they hire more sales professionals because the Sales Culture is one of the very critical effectiveness drivers of the performance and success of the sales team.  Also the Sales Culture affects the kinds of sales professionals that are attracted to work for your company (i.e. does your Sales Culture attract A-players in sales?) and how these sales reps will contribute to your company’s success over time plus whether they stay or leave.

But note that a culture is not stagnant and it morphs, shifts and grows so a Sales Leader must be proactive about the culture to foster this growth.

How does a VP of Sales / CRO do that?

Start with recruiting and selecting the right people for your sales team.

Also, Make sure your team has these traits as part of the Sales Culture:

  • intangibles of preparation, work, discipline, sacrifice
  • commitment to winning

Next, you need the Sales Culture to include your Core Values of the Sales Team.  Remember that Netflix Culture Deck said “the actual company values, as opposed to nice-sounding ones, are shown by who gets rewarded, promoted, or let go”.  Similarly, your sales team should embody these values and not just see them posted on a wall.

Finally, here are some Sales Traditions that should be part of the Sales Culture – some examples of the ones I like:

  • Team Cadence
  • Trophies
  • Contests
  • Monthly MVPs
  • President’s Club
  • Rookie of the Year
  • Annual Kickoff

What else? What are some other ideas on developing a great Sales Culture?