Harnessing an organisation’s sales culture can lead to improved sales performance, according to Gartner.

“Culture is often an afterthought for sales leaders – it’s something that just exists, but is off track or isn’t actively managed,” says Shayne Jackson, senior director analyst in the Gartner Sales Practice. “As a result, teams are often disconnected, leading to higher turnover and lower performance.

“When leaders actively channel sales culture it can be an incredibly powerful tool,” he adds. “To leverage culture as a driver of performance and retention, sales leaders must understand the culture that exists today, evaluate if it is meeting seller needs, confirm it aligns with leadership’s values, and then make adjustments to drive specific types of growth.”

In a survey of over 200 senior sales leaders conducted from November through December 2023, Gartner identified six cultural attributes that motivate sales performance.

Attributes such as transparency link to 2,9x greater likelihood of increased profit growth. Similarly, by prioritising seller empowerment as a key pillar of sales culture, organizations are 2,8x more likely to see improved commercial performance. In addition, cultures that focus on psychological safety, where sellers are permitted to “fail safely,” are 2,7x more likely to see improved customer acquisition.

Key sales culture attributes CSOs should evaluate:

* Investing in sales employees’ career development and growth opportunities – organisations that invest in career development are 2,6x more likely to improve commercial performance.

* Encouraging sellers to use innovative approaches to their work – organisations that foster innovation are 2,5x more likely to see digital commerce growth.

* Fostering internal competition among the sales team to meet their goals – when promoting competition, organisations are 2,6x more likely to see faster sales cycles.

* Being transparent and presenting sellers with meaningful insights into sales organisations’ operations.

* Empowering sellers to solve creatively for customer needs and rewarding them for finding ways to improve sales processes.

* Providing employees with psychological safety in an environment of trust.

“CSOs must take control of their sales culture by assessing the culture as it stands, designing the necessary culture adjustment and then transforming the culture to boost performance and achieve their organisation’s goals. To implement changes, enlisting support of frontline managers is key, as well as making changes to systems and processes that conflict or obstruct the new culture improvements,” says Jackson.