Developing a Positive Sales Culture
Some companies minimize the importance of developing a positive sales culture, looking at it as a nice bonus, or the icing on the cake. However, developing a positive sales culture should be at the heart of your company's sales strategy, because your sales culture is what creates the environment in which your sales representatives work. Your sales representatives are your sales department's major assets, and if you give them the tools and encouragement they need to succeed, you will be directly ensuring the health of your company's bottom line.
A positive sales culture is not something that appears magically out of a few pep talks. Your sales culture should be built on concrete policies and structures that put your sales representatives first, and align their interests with your company's. The way to attract and retain the best employees (who will in turn attract and retain the best clients and customers) is to build a sales program that invests in your people, takes care of them, and helps them develop their careers.
Many companies are tempted to take shortcuts, sacrificing important employee benefits, cutting corners on training, or utilizing sales compensation plans that put all the risk on the employees. However, to the extent that you let the important building blocks of your sales culture go, you will sacrifice the reputation of your brand, the integrity of your business model, and the positive sales culture that is so important for the success of your sales program.
For over a decade, Netpique has focused on developing a positive sales culture, and the results are evident in the quality of our sales force, the way our employees feel about our company, and of course, the sales results we achieve for our clients. While there are many factors that contribute to a positive sales culture, here are a few categories that we have found to be especially important:
Many sales companies hire their sales representatives as 1099 independent contractors, essentially taking advantage of a loophole in employment law that allows them to avoid paying their employees a salary and benefits, instead paying them exclusively through commissions on sales achieved. On the surface, it might seem like a clever strategy to let your employees take on all the risk and force them to produce immediately in order to subsist.
However, if you stop to consider the message you would send your employees by utilizing a 1099 independent contractor model, it's easy to understand that sales representatives who don't have a regular salary or benefits don't feel particularly invested in the company they work for, and may also suffer from the stress of not feeling like their income is reliable, or their health and other insurance needs filled. If you don't provide them with a salary and benefits, they will likely keep looking for a company that will, even if they're willing to continue working for your company in the meantime.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of a good compensation plan in building a sales culture that will motivate and inspire your employees. As mentioned above, you should certainly provide your employees with a salary that will meet basic needs. However, to make the job exciting and provide the motivation they need to go out and be pumped up to sell every day, you should also ensure that a significant portion of their income comes in the form of commissions.
Some companies are still capping their commissions. But it makes no sense at all to limit your sales representatives' earning potential when every sale they make is boosting your bottom line. Sales professionals love to feel like their income and sales potential is in their own hands. Be generous in your commission structure, and never cap it. Encourage your sales teams to reach for the stars, not only verbally but also by giving them something concrete to reach for. Having an aggressive and uncapped commission plan helps you to create an environment where anything is possible, and where excellence is encouraged.
It can be tempting to skimp on training, since a robust training program takes up time and resources both from your sales managers and from your sales team. However, that time and resources will give you an impressive return on investment if you use it effectively in a training program that not only tells your sales representatives to make sales, but also shows them how.
Having a good training program can actually help you attract high quality sales candidates, because you are offering them the chance to develop their professional skills and their career. Good training programs involve mentoring and one-on-one attention, as well as group activities and meetings. The idea is that your people will progress, becoming more successful and valuable to your company, and also enabling you to promote from within.
Providing a good salary and benefits, utilizing an effective sales compensation plan, and having a well-designed training program will help you in developing a positive sales culture at your company and setting the stage for lasting success. Could you use some assistance implementing these ideas? Netpique can help! We offer a variety of sales solutions, from consulting and compensation plan design to a fully bundled, turnkey sales channel program.