Performance Management

6 Tips for Driving a High-Performance Culture in Sales

July 2, 2024
July 2, 2024
Lyssa Test
Lattice Team

Sales is one of the most crucial departments in any business, directly contributing to the overall success and growth of an organization. Without a motivated and skilled sales team, even the best products and services can struggle to find their market. That's why investing in your sales team's experience, engagement, and growth is essential.

In this article, we’ll share top tips for driving a high-performance culture in sales. From setting effective goals to recognizing great work, here are six ways to inspire your team and boost their performance. Whether you're a seasoned sales leader or just starting out, these strategies will help you build a more dynamic and successful sales team.

1. Set clear and ambitious goals.

Every sales team needs clear goals to work toward. Ambitious and well-defined goals provide salespeople with direction, focus, motivation, and accountability. However, poorly set goals can do more harm than good, leading to confusion, frustration, and burnout.

To keep your team on task, try using one of these two proven goal-setting frameworks to establish effective sales objectives: 

  • SMART goals: The acronym SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Goals that meet all of these criteria help eliminate confusion, provide a clear execution time frame, and make it easier to monitor progress and evaluate success.
  • Objectives and key results (OKRs): This framework sets one high-level objective and two to five key results that measure progress toward achieving that overarching objective. OKRs share not only what you’re hoping to achieve but also how you’ll accomplish it, making this framework a favorite for many businesses and sales teams. 

Regardless of which framework you choose, it’s essential to set goals that cascade throughout your organization. This means aligning goals at the individual, team, department, and organizational levels. Having objectives ladder up to company goals enhances accountability, creates clarity, and ensures alignment across your entire division. This alignment will help you work toward larger business objectives like revenue targets, customer acquisition, and quota attainment.

Example of an Effective Sales Goal

When setting strong sales goals, specificity is crucial. For example, consider these two goals: 

  1. Sell more products this quarter. 
  2. Increase revenue from existing North American clients by 15% by the end of Q4 2024.

While both goals technically aspire to achieve the same thing, the second would be more effective. Rather than vaguely aiming to increase sales, this goal is actionable and specific, offering your sales team a clear, measurable objective to strive toward.

Of course, if you decide to use this goal as an OKR objective, you’ll also need some actionable key results to pair with it. These sales activity milestones might look something like this: 

  • Ensure that 100% of the sales team undergoes advanced sales training focused on upselling, cross-selling, and relationship management by the end of Q2 2024. 
  • Implement at least three major client engagement initiatives (e.g., personalized marketing campaigns, client appreciation events, or enhanced customer support programs) by the end of Q3 2024. 
  • Increase upsell and cross-sell transactions by 20% with existing clients by Q4 2024. 

As the year progresses, these key results will make it easier to track team performance and help you determine whether you’re trending ahead of or behind your projections to accomplish your revenue growth objective.

2. Engage in meaningful one-on-ones.

While goals give your employees something to work toward, team members also need ongoing feedback to ensure they stay on track, make necessary adjustments, and continue improving their overall performance. Weekly or biweekly one-on-one meetings provide the perfect opportunity to have these conversations with your direct reports. 

These ongoing meetings should go beyond sharing to-do list items. Rather, managers should approach them as an opportunity to coach, mentor, and build stronger relationships with their teams. These check-ins can be used to address individual concerns, provide personalized feedback, and offer support tailored to each salesperson's needs.

One way to ensure employees find value in these meetings? Give them ownership of the one-on-one agenda, said Gabriel Lukov, head of inbound growth at enterprise agility solution Businessmap. “To make these meetings more efficient, we follow a structured approach with an agenda driven by the team members themselves. It empowers them to take charge of their development and opens up a safe space to discuss any issues or concerns,” he explained.

You can also use a tool like Lattice 1:1s so employees can easily add agenda items, carry over tasks from a previous week, and create follow-up actions based on your discussion so nothing slips through the cracks.

Leading Effective One-on-Ones in Sales

One-on-one meetings are the perfect opportunity to discuss individual sales strategies, review recent sales interactions, and identify opportunities for skill development.

For instance, if a sales representative is struggling to overcome client objections during sales calls, dedicate time during their one-on-one meeting to practice objection-handling techniques and provide targeted coaching. Conducting training in a private, relaxed setting might be just what your employee needs to refine their skills, gain confidence for their next client interaction, and get back to closing deals.

3. Give and receive feedback.

Building an effective sales team relies heavily on open, two-way communication. Sales managers should regularly ask their teams which processes and procedures are working well and which might be holding them back. Since your salespeople are on the front lines every day, they have the most experience dealing with your customers and internal processes.

Strategies and workflows that seem effective in theory may actually be hindering employees’ ability to source, contact, and close qualified leads. By collecting this feedback, managers can better understand the factors limiting their team’s performance. With that information, managers can identify and remove operational bottlenecks in the sales process to drive better results.

While collecting operational feedback is important, sales leaders should consistently offer feedback to their employees as well. This practice helps employees identify their strengths and understand areas for improvement, allowing them to become better salespeople. Plus, regular feedback sessions can foster a culture of transparency and trust, making employees feel valued and heard. 

Building a Culture of Constructive Feedback

Requesting feedback on the fly may catch employees off guard and leave them feeling uncomfortable. Instead, using an internal feedback tool gives employees more time to reflect, so they can share clearer, more meaningful feedback when requested. 

Using software like Lattice Feedback also makes it easier and less confrontational to request feedback from a manager, teammate, or colleague. With the tool, employees can simply select who they want to review them and which areas they want feedback in before sending their request. This simplicity can help your business foster a supportive and productive culture of ongoing feedback.

4. Conduct sales performance reviews.

Regular sales performance reviews provide an excellent opportunity for managers to engage with individual sales reps and formally discuss employee performance. These reviews allow managers to:

  • Assess sales reps’ strengths and weaknesses
  • Evaluate productivity
  • Recognize individual achievements
  • Identify areas of improvement and development
  • Work with employees to design improvement plans, if needed

Sales performance evaluations should consist of three parts: a self-assessment, a peer review, and a manager review (check out our performance review template library for helpful resources in these areas). Using these three segments, you can more fairly evaluate a rep’s performance, share actionable feedback, and create a comprehensive development plan tailored to their strengths and areas for improvement. 

Following a structured performance review process can ensure better alignment on performance expectations, enhance employee accountability, and promote continuous development for your sales team.

Writing Effective Sales Performance Reviews

To ensure fair and equitable reviews, sales managers should train to recognize and mitigate different types of bias, such as recency bias (overemphasizing recent performance rather than evaluating the entire review period) and the halo effect (allowing overall impressions of a person to influence their performance rating). 

You can also turn to a tool, like Lattice Reviews, for help. It can reduce recency bias and enable more tailored feedback with: 

  • AI-powered feedback summaries: Quickly review summarized feedback the individual received during the review period from the colleagues they work with most closely.
  • OKRs & Goals integration: Easily see what goals the individual was working toward and if they met or fell short of their targets.
  • Job description access: View current and next-level job descriptions to assess performance accurately and determine if the employee is ready to advance their career or needs further skill development.

Of course, sales is one of the roles with the most straightforward performance criteria. To evaluate performance objectively, you should also review common sales metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) such as conversion rates, average deal size, customer satisfaction, and sales cycle length.

5. Promote a culture of continuous improvement.

Sales leaders play an invaluable role in building a culture of continuous learning and development within their team. But, while many managers know growth extends beyond employee promotions, some struggle with how to invest effectively in their team’s career development. 

The first thing to know? Growth can take many shapes and forms. Sales leaders can inspire their teams to pursue ongoing development by:

  • Consistently giving and receiving constructive and positive feedback
  • Sharing internal growth opportunities
  • Designing challenging stretch projects
  • Raising the visibility of their team's work
  • Setting aside dedicated time for team improvement

Even encouraging sales representatives to seek out training programs, workshops, and resources could be the push your employees need to enhance their sales skills, product knowledge, and industry expertise. 

Professional Development Initiatives for Sales Teams

Looking to encourage employees to make time for professional development every month? Implement a “Sales Book Club” where team members read and discuss relevant books or articles, sharing insights and strategies that can be applied to their sales approach. You could also organize regular skill-building workshops or role-playing sessions to practice and refine sales techniques collaboratively. 

Lukov said his team regularly hosts “Peer Learning Sessions” in which team members share knowledge and experiences. “These sessions might include a case study presentation by a peer who recently closed a complex deal. They would walk us through the challenges faced, strategies employed, and lessons learned,” he said. “They not only facilitate the exchange of tactics and best practices but also foster a sense of community within the team.” 

6. Celebrate sales successes and recognize achievements.

Good work shouldn’t go unnoticed. While bonuses and commission checks are important, regularly recognizing and celebrating individual and team achievements can significantly boost employee engagement and motivation. Publicly and privately acknowledging your employees’ accomplishments helps them feel appreciated and valued by you, your team, and your company. 

This recognition can come in many forms, such as President’s Club trips, extra paid time off, awards, or simple public acknowledgments. By showing your employees that you see and appreciate their hard work, you and other sales leaders can foster a positive and motivating work environment.

Ways to Recognize Outstanding Salespeople

In your next department meeting, carve out time for a monthly “Sales Spotlight” where top performers are recognized and rewarded for their achievements, whether for exceeding sales targets, securing a significant deal, or demonstrating exceptional teamwork. 

You can also introduce a peer recognition tool so employees can highlight their colleagues’ everyday contributions — both big and small. Similarly, Lattice Praise lets you tie an accomplishment to a company value and share it via Slack or Microsoft Teams so everyone can see and celebrate your team’s success.

Lattice for Sales Teams

Investing in your people is crucial when building a high-performance sales team. Employees can sell your products and services more effectively when they’re supported by their managers and organization. The right programs and policies can leave them energized, engaged, and empowered so they can turn prospects into happy customers.

Looking for an AI-powered people platform that can do it all? Lattice has everything you need to build a high-performing sales team — one-on-ones, performance reviews, feedback, goal-setting, development, and more. Request a demo now to see Lattice’s trusted talent suite for yourself.