Inside Sales Culture: 5 Things We’ve Learned Over the Years

Inside Sales Culture: 5 Things We’ve Learned Over the Years

Inside Sales Culture: 5 Things We've Learned Over the Years

High performing teams nearly always start with a great culture.

Once, company culture was seen as “smoke and mirrors”; free pizza and meaningless team-bonding exercises. The world of work has changed. Now more than ever, culture has direct business outcomes tied to it. Today, businesses need to build a positive sales culture. One that is engaging, empowering and relatable for all employees. No matter their role or circumstance.
Culture is a clearly defined, business identity, with employee buy-in to that chosen identity. That might sound simple enough when your sales force works in a shared office space, but what about those that are scattered further afield?
Remote working is no longer a concept; it’s a business reality. In fact, 16% of the world’s companies are now 100% remote.The bottom line is: Culture matters, even in the remote sales workspace.
In this blog, we’ll take a look at the importance of a great inside sales culture and five things we’ve learned over the years.

What is Inside Sales Culture?

Inside sales culture is the mindset, attitudes and behaviours that your business embodies. A high performance culture demands the effort, execution and growth needed to be successful, whilst making sure all parties are clear on core values and targets.

A successful sales culture focuses on clear goals, researched strategies, concise actions, impactful feedback and trust. But don’t confuse culture with sales goals or a mission statement PDF. Culture is created through consistency and authentic behaviours. It’s a feeling, rather than a set-in-stone policy.

“Culture” itself is a blanket-term. Any number of things go into a culture framework. From how team members collaborate, how feedback is issued to how success is defined and the rewards that are attached.

Why Does Sales Culture Matter?

Sales culture is unique in that, unlike every other aspect of inside selling, there isn’t a direct metric tied to it. There’s no way to quantify “good culture”. As we’ve mentioned, culture is a feeling. It’s personal. You can’t simply create a “cultural framework” and expect a sales team to immediately buy-in. It’s not something that can be ripped and replaced from team to team. Culture needs to feel authentic, inviting and engaging to work.

That being said, culture is still hugely important to your results. Teams are far more likely to engage with their work if they feel a clear belonging to a team – and can see the value of their own role within that framework. It’s no secret that this engagement means greater levels of productivity which in-turn drives better ROI/ROE for any business.

When sales culture aligns with employee demands, they’re more likely to feel more comfortable and valued – reducing attrition and boosting retention rates. Not to mention, strong culture is also a key advantage for hiring. In fact, studies show that a third of employees would pass up on the perfect job opportunity if the culture wasn’t a right fit.

Team culture is also one of the top indicators of employee satisfaction, and one of the main reasons that almost two-thirds (65%) of employees stay in their job. 

Sharing & Collaboration is Key

Transparency at all levels is crucial to sales culture. That doesn’t change whether it’s hybrid, in-office or remote. By sharing knowledge and insights openly, sales teams can foster a culture of open conversation. One that drives better results and greater return on effort. 

Often, sales teams naturally adopt a culture of competitiveness between reps. While competition is no bad thing, it’s important to stress that strong inside sales is built on unity. The successes of a single sales rep won’t be enough to carry an entire team. If a particular call script, email message or tonality is outperforming what everyone else is doing – share it. Culture starts at the team-level and better collaboration is vital.

There’s no reason to hide performance insights, knowledge and data from other team members for personal pride. We’re not competing, we’re working together.

Coaching Matters

Coaching and training is essential to any high performing sales team. Culture should be established from day one when new reps join your sales team – and training has a big part to play in that.

Now more than ever, people invest in the opportunity before they invest in the business. Why? Because when team members can clearly see that a leader or business is prepared to invest in them as a person with the right training, their confidence and sense of belonging skyrockets. Today, recruitment is all about career progression, and ensuring every person has the right roadmap in place to grow internally.

This is easier said than done in the remote model. Without face-to-face interaction, it’s incredibly challenging to create relationships during induction. Visibility is the key to overcoming this. Ensure each newcomer (and existing) is given the time to feel seen and heard. Whether through light 1:1s on near-term work, areas of focus or even just check-ins to discuss their own challenges. Once sales leaders understand these challenges, they can better interpret where coaching time and budget is best placed.

Set the Mission and Pace

Training shouldn’t solely focus on tech stack or making appointments. Culture starts with a common vision – a motivator to engage, work and achieve. In the modern world of sales work, sellers are looking for a bigger reason to turn up than a wage. While a common vision isn’t a prerequisite for success, it helps to keep reps motivated with a clear sense of purpose, encouraging unity and collaboration.

For this reason, training has to be about who you are as an business and brand: your history, your objectives and how teams are expected to work together. What are your KPIs? Where does your product fit in the market? What’s happening in your industry? Establish this from top-to-bottom.

You also want to establish a vision that keeps reps excited about their work – and where their piece fits into that puzzle. It’s equally about understanding personal aspirations and how you as a business can ensure that every day they spend with you as a business is a day towards their goals. Not just towards your own.

Address High Rep Turnover

Culture and retention work hand-in-hand. If you don’t have retention, you can’t set culture. Culture needs to transfer to work, it’s a habit. If people keep leaving, you have to constantly re-establish it and it never becomes authentic or natural.

Not to mention, constantly losing sellers is a major red flag for prospective employees or newcomers. Finding and training new sellers can be expensive. If that roster is ever-changing, team relationships are weakened and morale is hugely reduced.

It’s important to establish a structured framework for coaching support and check-ins between leaders and their teams. This should last throughout each person’s tenure with the company, rather than just at the beginning. Regular 1:1 check-ins give sales managers visibility into their people, while also helping team members to feel seen, supported and encouraged to use their best work ethics and sales skills.

Equally, ensure to build a clear strategy for employee growth. Reps feeling stuck or limited by their opportunities is a huge driver of turnover. Make it known where there are growth opportunities for each person in your business and be clear what needs to be achieved for that person to progress within their department.

Recognize and Incentivize

Paying below-market rate will undoubtedly decrease retention, and breed a toxic culture. Keep your on-target earnings (OTE) at least in line with industry rates – or above.

But, it’s not all about the money. High performing teams need a culture of “winning”. Reps should feel that their personal successes align with the objectives of the business.

It’s easy to lose long-term sight over the impact of your culture by focusing on activity metrics and close rates. For a true ROI from your salespeople, they need to feel incentivized, recognized and stimulated. As part of your culture strategy, incorporate how you intend to motivate sellers through compensation plans and career progression that rewards effort, results, initiative and innovative working.

It’s all about the contribution reps feel they’re making to their team and business. If they can’t understand that, they won’t be able to feel a sense of responsibility and ownership for your business. The more diluted that becomes, the less motivation there is to make people want to do well outside of their own commission or earning potential. 

Final Thoughts

As we’ve established, culture starts at the team-level. Whether you’re part of a FT500 company or small business, to build a constructive, collaborative and unified culture that your team members ACTIVELY buy into, you need to follow four key principles:

  1. Be Transparent and Open
  2. Check-In Frequently
  3. Give Credit Where it’s Due & Incentivize
  4. Encourage Feedback & Collaboration

Looking to start from scratch? At InsideOut we can help you in building your own team, leveraging our knowledge and expertise as inside sales specialists. We can reduce the time, cost, and risk of building this team from scratch, by designing sales programs for you that are data-driven. Or, if you are looking to fully outsource, we can manage your company’s entire inside sales process, from beginning to end.

Aimée is one of InsideOut’s talented Customer Success Managers, assisting our high-growth partners with their optimization or implementation processes to deliver continual returns on investment from their inside sales activities.

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