This article adapted from the book Sales Recruiting 2.0 – How to Hire Top Performing Sales People, Fast

Is there any better icon of a winning culture than the New York Yankees? Each year they field a team expected to win it all and if they don’t get to the World Series, their fans are upset. This is a team that doesn’t know how to lose and they are ruthless in their pursuit of winning (ask anyone traded off their team).

We have all been part of teams where the few people are hitting targets, there is a tolerance for mediocrity and the leadership is not inspiring. Negativity breads negativity and if your team doesn’t have a culture of success, you will often pay with your job or your business.

Creating a culture of success is an absolutely critical part of a high performance sales force. Maintaining this kind of culture takes commitment and there may be times when things seem off. Pay attention because even if things have only become a little lax, getting things back on track can be a big challenge.

Start with rewarding the right behaviors.
The one best thing you can do as a leader to create the culture of success is lead by example. Practice excellence yourself. Roll up your sleeves and close a key account. Show your team you are prepared to work hard yourself and it how it pays off. They will follow your lead. Reward members of your team who go above and beyond to win and be professional (both are critical).

Add team members with the right DNA.
If things have been sliding for a while, you may need to clean house and bring in fresh blood. Not everyone will buy-in to your change program, and bringing in ambitious success oriented people who will be excited about your team’s success can have a huge impact on the others – especially the quieter ones who are heavily influenced by those around them.  Peak was once engaged by a large national telco to help them hire 60 reps in 120 days to achieve a complete overhaul in one of their divisions. That change enabled them to achieve their FY target and had a strategic impact on the company.

Communicate frequently.
Far too many sales managers skip this step – if you want your team to take part in a new culture, or to do anything for that matter, you need to tell them what you’re looking for, show them and then show them again. What is intuitive and top of mind for you, may not be for them. Communicate to your team often and demonstrate that things will improve vastly for them working as a team, following your plan.

Gandhi said “be the change you want to see in the world” and the same goes for sales culture. It starts from the top down.


Eliot Burdett

CEO at Peak Sales Recruiting
Before Peak, Eliot spent more than 20 years building and leading companies, where he took the lead in recruiting and managing high performance sales teams. He co-founded Ventrada Systems (mobile applications) and GlobalX (e-commerce software). He was also Vice President of Sales for PointShot Wireless.

Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.

He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.

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