Aligning Sales Strategy and Corporate Culture: 5 Tactical Steps

By: Rob Danna
team working
Respect. Integrity. Communication. Excellence.
All are inarguably great traits that companies should strive for. But without action to back them up, they’re only words on paper. (Case in point: the four traits above were Enron’s company values.)
In other words, the corporate culture of a company looks nice on a plaque in your office, but without consistent and ongoing follow-through, it’s meaningless.
Same goes for your sales team. Without a coherent corporate culture as a compass for your salespeople, shortcuts to quick victories that ultimately undermine the health of the company as a whole become more tempting.
That said, the benefits of a powerful company culture might not be completely apparent to a mile-a-minute sales team.

The Benefits of Corporate Culture for Your Sales Team

To put a fine point on it, organizational culture is the shared values, practices and beliefs of the company's employees. But what benefit does that provide to sales?
An organization that develops and maintains good corporate culture has been proven to provide the following sales performance benefits to its employees:
  • A collaborative, cooperative atmosphere
  • Optimized, efficient decision-making process
  • Facilitation of open communication
  • A sense of identity and community
  • Shared understanding
  • Increased brand value
  • Increased productivity and elevated sales performance

1. Articulate Your Organizational Culture

As Steven Covey detailed in his influential book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, beginning with the end in mind—or knowing where you want to be before you start—is key to personal success as well as sales strategy and corporate culture achievement.
In a nutshell, it’s hard to align a team to a culture without a crystal-clear definition of what that culture is.
Buffer’s culture is all about transparency. Zappos’ is about excellent customer service. Nike’s is about innovation and inspiration.
What makes your culture uniquely yours? The way you answer that will determine your next steps.
Related: Getting executive buy-in for cultural change is a must. Find out how to do it in this post.

2. Break It Down

Achieving a high-level concept such as transparency or excellent customer service can feel like building a space shuttle in your backyard. Where do you even start? It’s a daunting prospect.
These objectives get easier when you think of them as actions more than values. Want to be a more transparent organization? Act more transparent. Want excellent customer service? Take actions toward it.
Back to your sales team, if the culture of your team is built on transparency, think about things needed to build transparency and incent them. What tangible actions are needed to be taken to encourage that?

3. Outline Your Expectations

Telling your people what to do or strive toward something without detailing your expectations is like playing basketball without a scoreboard. How close are you to achieving your goal (winning)? Are you close to or miles behind the competition? It’s hard to tell.
With your tangible actions in mind, detail what is expected from your people with quantifiable metrics and timely, well-set goals.
For instance, if transparency is a culture objective for your sales team, tell your salespeople to conduct monthly meetings with other parts of the company to elaborate on what progress is being made and how their efforts help the sales process.
Related: Get your people moving with these sales productivity hacks sure to inspire substantive growth.

4. Check in With Your Sales Team

Back to that basketball analogy—as a sales leader, you’re responsible for your team’s game plan and for motivating them to achieve their goal. You let them know where they are and how to get to their goal. In that sense, you’re both scoreboard and coach.
Host ongoing touch-base meetings with your salespeople to see how they’re progressing toward your expectations. Adjust the tone and timbre of your meetings to the different kinds of salespeople on your team and improve sales effectiveness by offering your people the autonomy to achieve their goals in ways that fit their perspective and personality.


5. Evaluate and Update Processes

Did your salespeople reach the goals you set for them? And, in tandem, is your company closer to the overarching goals that it set?
If not, there might be components that need alteration and updating. Why didn’t your people meet the expectations that were outlined? Did the actions that were taken help move the needle for your company?
As with any large change, success is a marathon, not a sprint. Constant iteration toward progress is the best way to achieve organizational goals and move closer to where you want your sales team to be.
Which cultural aspects didn’t quite meet up with your expectations? What could be improved?

Rob Danna
Rob Danna

As Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Rob is a savvy leader with over 25 years of experience in technology and sales management. He prides himself on making work more like play with innovative engagement solutions that transform how business feels for leading brands around the world.