What’s Sales Culture Got to Do with It?

If you believe, as I do that your brand is more than your logo, your colors, and what you say about yourself…

…and is really a reflection of your culture and how you represent values (with both your customers and your employees)…

…then describing your brand as a reflection of your values should make sense.

Your customers will eventually discover what you really are
, regardless of what you say you are. And since the first person your potential customers will ever talk to from your company will most likely be one of your salespeople, the need to build the right culture within that team is vitally important.

Building a strong sales culture is a concerted organizational effort. It takes planning, preparation, and execution. And when it comes to the affect it has on customer relationships, sales culture has everything to do with it!

How do you build the right sales culture?

sales culture
Step 1. Planning: Culture starts with the type of people you recruit and whom you hire—which means you’ll need to identify the behaviors you value and traits you want to avoid.

“We look for a lot of qualities but the two most important are one, integrity—it doesn’t matter how talented you may be, without integrity, you won’t fit on our sales team. And two, resilience—the ability to stick with it even when things get tough, and the fortitude to come back tomorrow to start all over again.”

– Paul Rosen, Chief Sales Officer at OnDeck

If you want to build an organization where your values inform everything you do, you need to identify what those values are, and what behaviors those values produce. Nevertheless, identifying those values doesn’t necessarily mean the culture you want to build will just happen. In fact it probably won’t, if identifying them is all you do.

Step 2. Preparation: What do you do when something goes wrong?

Unfortunately, people are imperfect, and in the heat of battle they sometimes make mistakes. Of course, some mistakes are more forgivable than others, but even a rock star employee can turn out to be a bad hire if they don’t fit the culture—or reflect the values that have been identified as important.

Because of this, removing a bad cultural fit from the sales team is the best practice to foster a culture that emulates the values you’ve identified as important—for us, those values include integrity and resilience.

Step 3. Execution: Don’t just identify cultural values for your organization, live them!

Most people appreciate being recognized for top performance. Your sales team is no different, and recognition is often what keeps people coming back tomorrow to do it all over again.

“We recognize our top performers in front of their peers,” Rosen says, adding that this is an often overlooked approach to motivating an internal team.

“As a sales leader, it’s important to model the behaviors you value,” Rosen says. “If my sales team sees me doing anything contrary to the values we regularly talk about as important, it tells them they aren’t important to me—and they don’t need to take them seriously.”

“They need to see, in my actions, the same work ethic I expect from them. Furthermore, the way I interact with them will reinforce the importance of acting according to our values when they interact with our customers and each other.”

A good culture doesn’t just happen. It starts by hiring the right people, identifying the cultural traits you value, and emulating those values in how you interact with your team, your colleagues, and your customers.

Key takeaway: There’s no shortcut to building a good culture.

The right culture impacts the work you do, how you do it, and how your customers respond to your business. Everyone in your organization, team, or business has a responsibility to help maintain the values that are important to your company, build a positive culture, and promote a great brand.


contributor_ty-kiiselTy Kiisel is a contributing author focusing on small business financing at OnDeck, a technology company solving small business’s biggest challenge: access to capital. With over 25 years of experience in the trenches of small business, Ty shares personal experiences and valuable tips to help small business owners become more financially responsible. OnDeck can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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