Sales culture, what and why

At BrightBiz, we talk a lot about sales culture. But, what does this mean exactly? What does a great sales culture look like? What does it feel like to be part of? And why does it matter?

One for all, all for one

If you’ve seen The Wolf of Wall Street, you get both the wrong and the right idea. Great sales cultures should be celebratory and fun with lots of zany energy. Rewards for sales are absolutely powerful incentives, and definitely have their place. But unlike the film, great sales cultures need to be ethical too. Otherwise, they eventually go the way of the Wolf.

Xerox was my first introduction to great sales culture. If you’re trying to establish one in your company, learn from Xerox. They know how to do it right.

The training

Xerox invested in me from the very start. I received six-weeks of sales and product training that ultimately launched my career in this business. The training gave me the foundation I needed, and showed that Xerox cared about my professional success.

The mind-set

The 300+ employees hugely respected, appreciated and valued the sales team and our process. Why? Because everyone understood that ultimately we generate the cash to pay the bills and make the company grow. And we couldn’t do it alone. We needed everyone pulling for us, and everyone did.

The rewards

Xerox rewards people – and well – who meet their targets, especially the over achievers like me ☺. On top of the bonuses and awards, the experiences I had celebrating my team’s success and my own achievements were some of the highlights of my life. Let me explain.

  • Certificates: each time you out-perform as a sales team or individually, you get a certificate. I still have all mine.
  • VIP parking place: if you are #1 in the 100% Club (those who reached 100% of their sales target per quarter), you get a VIP parking place in your name in front of Xerox.
  • Huge poster: the top sales person of the quarter gets an immense poster in the office so everyone knows about their achievements.
  • Bonuses: 70% of salaries are fixed. The remaining 30% is dependent on performance. This “bonus” model means that the more you sell, the more you earn. And once you go beyond the sales target, the bonus gets even better. Success was mine to earn, and I was hungry for it.
  • Accelerators: sales made during special times of the year, could “accelerate” your bonus by two to three times.
  • Bets: you could make a bet with your general manager for extra bonuses if you closed extra deals.
  • Trips: You could win amazing luxury trips. I won seven in total to Argentina, Uruguay, Vietnam, Tunisia, Costa Rica, India, Roma, Tanzania and Zanzibar. Each time I stayed in the best luxury hotels and ate at the best restaurants.
  • Restaurants: if you reach 100% of your sales target, the general manager takes you to a Michelin starred restaurant for lunch. When I left the office for a five-course gastronomical meal, my colleagues looked on with envy and worked even harder for their chance at a Michelin lunch.
  • Luxury gifts: Xerox gives all sorts of amazing luxury gifts to people who hit their sales targets. I received a Breitling watch that I still wear with pride today.
  • Music & Champagne: each time someone reaches a certain sales target, music plays throughout the whole building. And then the sales manager opens champagne to celebrate with the whole team.

Although I’m no longer with Xerox, when I meet another “brother in sales” there’s an immediate bond. We connect over our shared experience that people in other professions can almost never comprehend.

If you’re an entrepreneur just starting out or a senior executive, think about the sales culture at your company. Does a culture even exist? If not, we’re here to help you develop it.

A girl with good sales instincts

While on holiday in the Philippines, I bought some souvenirs from a girl on the beach. Putting aside the fact that I wish she didn’t have to work, I was super impressed by her sales skills.

Here is how the conversation went:

Me: How much is the turtle magnet?
Girl: 250 PHP, but I’ll give you a little discount.
Me: I don’t want a discount. I want your best price, and one that you’ll be happy with.
Girl: Ok. 150 PHP.
Me: Do you make these turtles yourself?
Girl: No, I buy them for 50 PHP per piece. If I sell you one, I only earn 100 PHP.
Me: Ok, I’ll take two then. And let’s take a picture to celebrate.

The girl and her friends – all happy with the sale – smiled for the picture and we all went on our merry way. Later, she returned with two beautiful shells for me in appreciation of my purchase.

At the airport two days later, I saw the same magnet at 250 PHP a piece. It was proof that the girl gave me a fair deal. When I reflect back, she was super brave to approach me as well as very honest and transparent (she even told me her margin). Best of all, she was kind, especially with her shell “thank you”.

When I started thinking critically about our deal, some questions came to mind.

How would you answer them?

  • If I didn’t know her margin, would I have made the same decision? How should this information influence my negotiation strategy?
  • How can I judge what is a reasonable margin in this context?
  • Why should the salesperson’s interests matter to the buyer?
  • What is the girl going to do with the money? Who really controls it?

Sales training that pays for itself

When I train start-ups, my goal is to have the training pay for itself. How? Because training produce sales, which fuel the company with cash, jobs and more.

Sortlist team

SortList was among the first start-up I trained in 2014. The founders, Thibaut Vanderhofstadt, Nicolas Finet, Michael Valette and Charles De Groote, took a two-day intensive training spread out over two weeks.

Like many entrepreneurs, their product wasn’t perfect yet.

But, they needed to hit the market to generate cash for further development. And, with my sales training, this is exactly what they did. And in ways that widely exceeded their expectations.

After just the first session, they signed five new contracts.

After the second session, they signed 15. In just two-weeks, they had the cash they needed for the business and a growing client list that made industry news.

This sales record was critical for investors who infused 550,000 Euro in seed funding into SortList. This is exactly what BrightBiz is all about.

Training is an investment that start-ups simply can’t afford not to make.

Contact us to get started today.