Building a Healthy Sales Culture Through Training
280 Views | 8 Min Read
A thriving sales culture is all about how well people work together. Culture is often something that is more felt than seen as it’s a blend of the attitudes, values, and habits that characterize a team. It’s iterated and reinforced through leadership, team structure, the quality and nature of work, and an organization’s commitment to investing in opportunities to cultivate it. Company culture can directly impact sales, profits, morale, and even recruiting efforts, making culture an essential part of any sales organization’s competitive advantage.
Training is a key lever to build a strong culture. Training, as well as onboarding and coaching, can provide enablement and sales management an opportunity to articulate who the company is, what it stands for, and what the seller’s role in advancing it is.
Prioritizing sellers’ development opportunities to build culture can also keep employees motivated, show they are valued, and help improve overall performance. Learn how enablement can develop a healthy sales culture that drives impact with training.
Onboarding That Advances Sales Culture
Outside the hiring process, onboarding is the first major touchpoint a rep has with the sales culture. This is critical because it can determine how new reps eventually contribute to and advance the organization’s culture. Enablement can use onboarding to familiarize reps with the sales culture, understand what motivates them, and connect them with people that can support them.
“Having a strong onboarding program ensures that new hires feel connected, have cross-functional exposure, have access to leaders, mentors, and buddies, and are given the resources and content they need to hit the ground running,” said Eric Lindroos, revenue enablement partner at Culture Amp.
For global sales teams, accounting for each rep’s needs takes additional coordination. First, determine a baseline that sellers across the globe can connect on. This baseline can contain information such as company values, value propositions, and selling basics, all of which may be similar across regions. Enablement can centralize a global library of content to ensure foundational consistency is accessible across teams.
“Be slow to build and fast to listen,” said Lindroos. “From a foundational level, there should be a program baseline that reflects your company first. Build that foundation and then scale it because that’s how employees feel engaged and brought into a mission.”
Ensure that global sales teams have the ability to connect by occasionally scheduling live meetings across time zones and by making a 24/7 space for global mindshare and bonding, such as a discussion board.
For sellers to be able to learn, develop, and perform to the best of their abilities, creating an equitable workplace is essential. Sales organizations can perform best when they are in a place where diversity is celebrated. Enablement can drive impact by building diversity efforts into learning initiatives – starting with onboarding.
“I’m a huge fan of building a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) or employee resource group (ERG) session into your onboarding so that new hires understand the DNA of your company and are encouraged to show up as their true and authentic selves from day one,” said Lindroos. “Create a space that promotes open and inclusive environments, and people are just going to learn organically because they feel comfortable.”
Strengthening Culture With Training
Training is a key lever for enablement to help build a vibrant sales culture. Prioritizing training not only shows that the company cares about its employees’ development, but it can also be a way for sellers to feel more connected to an organization’s mission and strategy, helping them actualize and share the company’s vision.
Since reps have different learning preferences, it is important to deliver training in multiple formats and forums to create a culture of learning. For example, enablement can use insights from performance analytics to identify skills or knowledge areas where reps are excelling or perhaps falling behind. Then, they can plug them into the right training program for their role or individual learning needs as well as partner with managers to pinpoint those growth opportunities in individual coaching sessions.
“All of the sellers on your team are different and need different approaches and methods of feedback delivery,” said Kristin Klinkner, sales enablement manager at Zumper.
Additionally, enablement can create a repository of self-guided learnings so that reps can access just-in-time information when needed. Having critical learning available for reps can help them feel more supported by the organization at every moment while also reinforcing knowledge retention.
Finally, sales training can strengthen the culture by fostering healthy competition. For example, consider creating short-term learning sprints to help teams reach key milestones and use a leaderboard to recognize reps’ accomplishments. This can help proliferate collaboration within and between teams, an essential trait of a successful sales culture.
Coaching to Reinforce a Healthy Sales Culture
Coaching can be instrumental to sellers’ development and can teach sellers important problem-solving and collaboration skills, which can reinforce a culture of ongoing improvement.
The role of the manager in this process cannot be understated – as their ability to encourage active development is critical to fostering a culture that values coaching. A common problem companies face in establishing this culture is that many sales managers often want to fix things themselves and solve a problem quickly rather than guide their reps to the solution. To overcome this, enablement can encourage managers to build a collaborative environment where reps can learn and develop with the right support.
“Guide managers away from the tendency to immediately fix [the problem] for somebody else, and instead shift the behavior to ask questions and coach a seller to see the fixes they need to make for themselves,” said Klinkner.
By helping reps can learn how to effectively solve problems, coaching can create a sense of resilience and tenacity that ripples throughout the organization. It can also be a great way to celebrate wins, give positive feedback, and motivate sellers, which are all key to a thriving sales culture.
A healthy sales culture can help create satisfied reps who are committed to the business and motivated to enhance their performance. The right environment can bring out the best in people through ongoing learning and development. Training, in tandem with onboarding and coaching, can bring sellers closer to the organization, encourage ongoing development, and reflect the company’s investment in its people, all of which help build a vibrant culture.
“As we started to build the culture of working together, helping each other out, and celebrating wins, we really have seen an improvement in commitment to our company, commitment to the key performance indicators and the objectives of our organization, and a general enthusiasm to achieve it together,” said Klinkner.