Developing a Sales Culture to Retain Reps and Incent Excellence Pt. 1


Developing a Sales Culture to Retain Reps and Incent Excellence


A sales culture isn’t easy to quantify. But whether you deliberately create it or not, your company has a sales culture — and it’s every bit as important to your success as easy-to-measure metrics like how many outgoing calls your team made this week, or how much revenue they bring in every month.


Your sales culture encompasses all the attitudes, incentives, processes, and systems that your company has in place to support your sales organization. That culture can work for you, or it can work to hold your company back.


I want to start with a couple of stories about organizations I’ve worked with that have outstanding sales cultures.  Hopefully this will help you understand just what a great sales culture can do for you.


First up is Coca-Cola USA. As you can imagine, Coca-Cola is not only a tremendous brand, but it also has excellent sales and marketing systems, processes, and support around their sales team. When I worked for them, I was in San Francisco with the fountain division, calling on restaurant chains and food service providers who purchased concentrated syrups for resale and for use in their retail establishments.


The structure at Coca-Cola was set up intentionally to support and reward both the sales team and account managers, and to execute sales transactions in a timely matter. They did this through a state-of-the-art compensation plan that intelligently incentivized sales reps for the exact behavior that they hoped to achieve.


Secondly, my time with Tony Robbins was spectacular because I learned so much about sales culture from him. As CEO of the business, he’s also a tremendous sales master. His value of and appreciation for the selling process — along with his understanding of what it takes to really get a customer to sign the bottom line — is paramount to the success of retaining and growing sales reps.


He understands something that not all executives do: Your salespeople are your face to the marketplace, and to the customers. They represent you. Tony knew that and he spent an inordinate amount of one-on-one time coaching our team on how best to deliver the value of his products and services. He was extremely generous with his time and commitment to their success, and I worked closely with him to develop compensation plans, quotas, and territory maps that were aggressive yet had support mechanisms in place to assure success.


My point is this: Understanding how your sales team thinks and how to best compensate them to incent the behaviors you want to see is fundamental to creating the types of successful sales cultures that have made Tony Robbins and Coca-Cola household names.


Unfortunately, I’ve also worked in many organizations which had a sales culture that actively worked against their ability to sell, by:


  • Creating incentive programs that actually encourage sales reps to underperform
  • Acting in ways that tell the sales team that they’re not important or worse yet, not trusted
  • Putting systems in place that discourage internal cooperation, creating a poor customer experience and slowing sales momentum


In part two of this blog I will help you understand how to create a successful sales culture.