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| Written by Sara O'Neil

Five Steps to Establishing a High-Performance Sales Culture

Many organizations measure sales performance by sales activity, revenue, and quotas. These are all key metrics to understand the health of your team and channel partners. However, they’re only part of the puzzle that will lead to success. Today’s focus also needs to include understanding and improving your organization’s sales culture to create a world-class team that is high performing and extremely engaged.

Sales culture includes performance characteristics, productivity habits, and tenure. It’s not something that can be established overnight; it takes time, commitment, and, above all, strategy. These five steps will help you transform your culture.

Step 1: Define your organization’s sales culture.

How would you describe your current sales culture? Define both the positive characteristics and the areas that may be creating a toxic culture. Consider elements such as healthy vs. intense competition, a flexible environment vs. a rigid sales process, individualization vs. collaboration, and a culture of trust vs. doubt. Additional factors include agility in the sales process and strong communication within the sales team and throughout the organization. These culture characteristics lead to a healthy or unhealthy work environment and ultimately define the organization’s sales culture.

If you already have a positive, healthy culture, identify why that is and what processes and procedures you can implement to ensure it continues. If your culture is negative or even just okay, the following steps are critical to reverse that.

Step 2: Recognize that a high-performance sales culture requires effort.

Establishing a high-performance sales culture will require effort, execution, and growth. Just like anything in life, change doesn’t happen on its own. Start fostering strong performance characteristics and productivity habits by establishing clear sales goals and strategies to encourage friendly competition, which will impact performance and increase employee and partner retention. Continue this level of transparency throughout the organization to build trust and respect and prevent competition and authority from becoming toxic or unmotivating. A shared common vision that is clearly communicated builds the camaraderie and one-team philosophy that are crucial to a positive culture, and establishing clearly defined sales metrics maintains accountability and provides a framework for performance.

Step 3: Drive motivation, foster friendly competition, and increase employee and channel partner retention.

For sales representatives, if it isn’t motivating, it is actually demotivating. Salespeople tend to have an internal compass that leads them to focus on the tasks that directly incentivize them; they don’t want to waste time or effort on tasks that have no clear benefit. Most salespeople also thrive on healthy competition. You can say the same about external channel sales partners. They will lean toward partners or solutions that drive more return for their business.

A lack of motivation and competition leads to turnover, distant relationships, and decreased revenue for everyone involved, including your organization. Clear goals and expectations are a starting point for motivating performance, but you can take it even further.

4. Establish a sales incentive program designed to nurture a positive culture.

So how do you further motivate your team and inspire friendly competition? A sales incentive program is effective at not only increasing revenue but also boosting employee engagement and retention. Program metrics should focus on qualitative measures such as sales goals, quotas, customer conversions, market share increase, and profitability as well as qualitative metrics such as completing sales or product positioning training and tracking sales funnel milestones.

A tiered approach to incentive programs where the higher the performance, the better the reward is a good way to design a program and keep it engaging and motivating across various levels of performance. Offering a variety of rewards inspires your sales reps and partners to always aim for the highest achievement, but even if they don’t reach the top tier, they won’t feel that all their hard work was for nothing.

Here’s one example of how tiered system can offer different, but still motivational, rewards:

  • Tier 3 Achievers: Name brand and popular merchandise chosen from a curated online catalog
  • Tier 2 Achievers: Individual incentive travel credits
  • Tier 1 Achievers: Company-sponsored, all-expenses-paid group incentive trip with on-site gifting

When designing the incentive program, ensure that the metrics are aligned with the sales culture and corporate goals. Communicate the metrics and criteria, share leaderboards throughout the qualification period, and highlight the rewards so participants know what they’re working toward.

Step 5: Track the program with technology that aggregates the data and automates the redemption process.

With an efficient and flexible incentive campaign platform, you can recognize your top performers and transform how you move the middle. An effective technology platform will not only allow your sales team to visualize their performance or leaderboard standings but also measure and report back on ROI of the program. It can also allow for reward redemption within the platform, creating a one-stop shop. M&IW’s sales incentive platform, EPIC, is one such technology that delivers real-time data analytics and functionality, measures performance and engagement for both sales teams and channel partners, and includes reward redemption and communication.

For many years, these types of solutions were only available to larger organizations with big incentive budgets, but that is no longer the case. Scalable and affordable solutions like EPIC now exist for small- to mid-size companies, and implementing a technology can take as little as six–eight weeks.

Imagine: In just six weeks, with the right technology and a modest investment, you can transform your workplace and create a high-performance sales culture built for lasting success.

Next Steps

Are you ready to take the next steps toward an engaging and high-performing sales culture? For more information about EPIC or to learn how our incentives and engagement experts can help create and execute a strategy that best meets your needs, contact us today.

Already an M&IW customer? Contact your Customer Success Manager to learn more.