All of the comradery and none of the cutthroats.
If I asked you to describe a typical sales culture, what would you picture? Fast-talking men in suits boozing and schmoozing with clients over drinks? Traveling vendors with briefcases upselling their wares? I, for one, would think of that scene in the first episode of Succession, where a bunch of grown-up frat stars drop f-bomb after f-bomb as they hype up the deal they're trying to close.
And I'm not the only one whose mind goes there; a 2006 academic study found that media descriptions of the sales occupation were "overwhelmingly unflattering and negative."
Sales can have a reputation for being a cutthroat, manipulative, greedy, and dishonest boys' clubs with high turnover and lots of stress. Those media portrayals were often based on real-life experiences, were they not?
But sales doesn't have to be like that. Building a healthy sales culture that encourages collaboration while still rewarding performance can help you create a sustainable sales team that lets its members and your business thrive. And a healthy sales culture is one more likely to make women and underrepresented minorities feel comfortable and flourish, bringing much-needed diversity of perspectives and market understanding to your business (and the results to show for it—companies with 45% or more women in their sales teams have higher-than-average profits).
This article will highlight common mistakes found in sales teams and provide advice from seasoned sales managers to help you build a better sales culture.
Common mistake: "You're on your own" mentality where each salesperson is responsible for figuring out best practices.
Why it happens: "Sales is hard and requires more than just product knowledge to be successful. Many companies treat sales as a natural ability and not something you can learn," says John Hill, founder of CRM customization company Adapted Growth and host of the Sales Throwdown podcast.
What you can do about it: Focus on training and mentoring and make those responsibilities an explicit part of your management meetings as well as how you grade and compensate your most senior and successful people.
And in your training sessions, consider a wide range of useful skills beyond the core components of prospecting and closing. "I train only 25% of their time in sales tactics and 75% of their time in self-development, compassion, and empathy," says Abbie Mirata, founder of non-profit Kyndly. "The more a salesperson feels confident and valued and not afraid to make mistakes, the better they will eventually become. They will also build stronger customer relationships and close more deals when they have real care and compassion for what a customer needs."
Chris Mason, senior vice president of sales distribution for HealthMarkets, suggests creating a sales culture of abundance versus scarcity: "One team member having great success doesn't detract from others' opportunity; conversely, it shows what is possible for others, that systems work [and that] products are relevant in the market." Make sales success post-mortems an agenda item on every team meeting, where the salesperson who closed the deal walks the team through what they did, what worked and what didn't, and how others can find similar success.
Common mistake: Measuring results on an individual basis versus a team basis, which leads to risk with top performers and resentment from less-than-stellar performers.
Why it happens: Salespeople are often compensated on whether or not they hit certain targets, so some managers will only measure results on a person-by-person basis, leaving behind the overall synthesis of the team's direction.
What you can do about it: Create team targets and widely publicize them. "Many years ago I worked for one company that would regularly shoot itself in the foot by setting an individual target [where] as soon as you hit it, you [could] go home," says Kim Adele, a leadership coach and former C-suite executive. "I amended it to be a team target. [It was] a small change, but the team spirit it built was amazing and we went on to have double-digit growth and a really engaged team," she says.
As vice president of accounts at youth sports advertising firm LeagueSide, Jason Smith notes the importance of making sure you are capturing and systemizing your top performers' success tactics and publicizing them to the rest of the team. "A lack of managerial leadership to replicate [success] often has led to resentment and jealousy," he says. At team meetings, give updates on overall success and on collective improvement to processes to make everyone feel like they're in it together.
Common mistake: Isolating the sales team from each other and/or from the rest of the company, leaving them feeling less attached to their team and the company's overall mission.
Why it happens: "[People] think about salespeople as lone wolves," says Yuval Shalev, co-founder of enterprise sales platform Hunterz. Because salespeople often work away from the office and may not have many full-team touch-points, fostering connection can be hard.
What to do about it: Invest in team-building within your sales team and between your sales team and the rest of the company can help reduce turnover and motivate employees, says Shalev.
For team-building with your sales group, try these ideas:
- Take group personality tests and discuss the results. Try the Myers-Briggs, True Colors, DiSC, or other test options and break up into groups by results, discussing preferences about communication strategies, weaknesses at work, and how to collaborate effectively between different types of people.
- Plan (or outsource) a scavenger hunt. If you have the time and the creativity, develop a daylong activity that requires teams to work together to solve puzzles, take pictures, and get to a certain site together (where they'll find food and drinks to celebrate with). If you'd rather have a pro take care of the logistics, look for a scavenger hunt company or book a slot at an escape room.
- Volunteer as a team. Remember and reinforce that you're all in this together by pooling your time and skills to help out in your community. Look for a Habitat for Humanity build opportunity, sign up for a shift cooking and serving dinner at a soup kitchen, or volunteer to clean up a park in your neighborhood. If you're an all-remote team, give everyone some time off to complete projects together on volunteer skills-sharing site Catchafire and have a debrief session to talk about what they worked on.
For team-building within your sales team and the rest of your company, try one of these:
- Celebrate wins together. Smith shares his team's tradition: "A Slack message [goes] out to the entire company announcing the deal, followed by the team member who closed the deal banging on a big gong in the office. It makes the whole team (not just the sales team) feel involved and pushes everyone to work harder. It's led to great feedback and a feeling of inclusion from the whole team."
- Encourage collaboration and connection with inter-departmental competitions. Mirata suggests instituting Random Acts of Kindness weeks, where employees seek to recognize or support their coworkers by cleaning up common areas, sharing unprompted compliments or kudos, or treating someone to coffee or lunch.
- Plan a company-wide field day. Invite everyone to a park, break them into 3-4 big teams with lots of mixing between departments, and put them through all the activities of your elementary school days of yore: balancing an egg on a spoon, three-legged races, blind obstacle courses where one person gives directions to someone wearing a blindfold, and as many pie-eating competitions as their stomachs can take.
Building A Healthy Sales Culture Takes Leadership
Overall, remember that a sales team manager's biggest responsibility is to lead their team to success. That means listening well, adjusting plans and processes to fit your team's needs, hiring and compensating your team fairly, and knowing when to hold your team accountable and when to celebrate. It's a tough job, but if it interests you—and you don't already have that responsibility set—check out the 500+ open Sales Manager jobs on PowerToFly.
Want to learn more about how PowerToFly can help you build a diverse and inclusive culture? Contact us here.
💎 Are CallRail's engineering teams the right fit for you? Watch the video to the end to find out!
📼 Engineering teams at CallRail encourage collaboration, communication, and empathy. Ayana Reddick, Senior Software Engineer at CallRail, shares what they are looking for in candidates and tells you why you’ll thrive there.
📼Engineering teams want candidates who have a growth mindset, love to learn, and are really good at communication. They also value team members who are excited about solving problems and working collaboratively. If you think you have what it takes, don't hesitate to apply.
📼At CallRail, engineering teams use Ruby on Rails for their backend, Angular on their frontend, and PostgreSQL for persistent data. They also use Jira for creating and tracking tickets, GitHub for their version control, and AWS for many cloud tools. Get familiar with these resources if you want to join them!
Engineering Teams And Diversity - Company’s Culture
CallRail seeks to hire from underrepresented groups. They pride themselves in selecting from a pool of very diverse candidates. They value the work that people do over their resumes. They encourage people to take their authentic selves to work. And they strive to create a supportive and welcoming environment. For this, they have Employee Resource Groups, that give voice to, provide safe spaces for, and educate the company at large. Some of their ERGs include the Rainbow Coalition, Black and Brown, Women Circle, and more.
🧑💼 Are you interested in joining CallRail? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Ayana Reddick
If you are interested in a career at CallRail, you can connect with Ayana on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About CallRail
CallRail is here to bring complete visibility to the marketers who rely on quality inbound leads to measure success. Their customers live in a results-driven world, and giving them a clear view of their digital marketing efforts is the priority for CallRail. They see the opportunities in surfacing and connecting data from calls, forms, and beyond—helping their customers get to better outcomes.
We all have our favorite websites– the ones we frequent, bookmark, and recommend to others. You might even enjoy some website features so much that you’ve found yourself wondering why they aren’t more popular. Or maybe you’ve experienced times where you were frustrated with a website and wished you could add features or even design your own!
If you’ve ever found yourself intrigued at the prospect of designing and developing your own websites, then a career as a web developer might be just for you!
As a web developer you would be responsible for coding, designing, optimizing, and maintaining websites. Today, there are over 1.7 billion websites in the world and, in turn, the demand for web developers is on the rise. In order to figure out what kind of web development work best suits you let’s start with an introduction to the three main roles in web development that you can choose from.
The Three Types of Web Development Jobs
Front-End Web Development: The Creative Side
In addition to programming skills, front-end developers need to be detail oriented, creative, willing to keep up with the latest trends in web development, cyber security conscious, and geared toward user-friendly designs. The median salary for a front-end developer can reach well into the $90,000 to $100,000 range.
Back-End Web Development: The Logical Counterpart
While a house can be beautifully decorated, it’s incomplete without a solid foundation and efficient infrastructure. Similarly, a well-designed website depends on logical and functional code to power the features of that website. Back-end web development is code-heavy and focused on the specifics of how a website works. If you enjoy the analytical challenge of creating the behind-the-scenes code that powers a website, then back-end development is for you.
Full-Stack Web Development: A Little Bit of Everything
A full-stack developer is essentially the Jack (or Jill)-of-all-trades in web development. Full-stack developers need to be knowledgeable about both front-end and back-end roles. This does not necessarily imply that you would need to be an expert in both roles, but you should fully understand the different applications and synergies they each imply. In order to work in this position, you will need to know the programming languages used by front-end and back-end developers. In addition to these languages, full-stack developers also specialize in databases, storage, HTTP, REST, and web architecture.
Full-stack developers are often required to act as liaisons between front-end and back-end developers. Full-stack developers need to be both problem solvers and great communicators. The end goal for a full-stack developer is to ensure that the user’s experience is seamless, both on the front-end and on the back-end. In return, you can expect to earn a median salary of $100,000 – $115,000 a year for this role.
Taking the Next Step
Web development is both in-demand and lucrative! All three roles described above contribute to specific aspects of web development and the scope of each one can be customized to the industries and positions you feel best suit you. Regardless of which role you choose, all of them need a foundation in programming.
To gain the programming skills needed in each role, you can enroll in courses or learn independently. Coding bootcamps are a great way to boost your skillset quickly and efficiently.
Click here for some of our highly rated programming bootcamp options! Make sure to check out the discounts available to PowerToFly members.
“In my early twenties, I wasn’t the best at saving money. So, when I got the job at Nike and found out a financial coach was offered to me — for free! — I thought, ‘It’s time to be an adult. I should use this service to help me learn how to buy stock, tell me what I’m doing right with my money and where I can improve.’”
That’s Ashlee Bobb, Nike Media and Influencer Relations Manager, on the free, unlimited access to financial coaching offered to every U.S. Nike employee through EY Navigate™. EY coaches are trained on Nike’s benefits and programs, so Ashlee was able to work with her coach on a budget and savings plan utilizing Nike’s 401k match and Employee Stock Purchase Plan – all in one 45-minute session. She left the meeting feeling confident about what her next paycheck would look like and how her money would work for her.
“The EY coaches are really willing to come on the journey with you,” Bobb says, adding that hers was willing to work with the fact that, hey, she’s not going to give up take out, but still wants to save for the future. “The cool thing is I can see how this financial guidance could help me down the road when I decide to get married, buy a house, have a kid. Every Nike employee should take advantage.”Sound like the kind of company you want to be a part of? Check out our open roles on jobs.nike.com
Erika Morrison is a naturally passionate and encouraging leader. From leading her family in giving back to their community, to coaching adolescents in track and cheer, to managing her team at Light & Wonder during the pandemic, her experience is rich with lessons to share with up-and-coming leaders.
“I believe in motivation, positivity, inspiring, finding the good in everything, everybody,” she says. In addition to 30+ years in the tech field, Erika is a wife, a mother of two, an avid exercise lover, and has even been a small-business owner.
We sat down with Erika to hear about the experiences that have led her to her current role as a Software Engineering Manager at Light & Wonder, as well as three practical ways to lead with purpose.
Seeing Potential in Others
Erika has always been fascinated by the world of technology. Growing up, she loved cassette tapes, DVD players, phones, and whatever other gadgets she could get her hands on. When her dad brought home a PC Junior, it didn’t take long before she started programming on it. She designed her own trivia game, using what she learned in her middle school programming classes. “I was typing the questions in and programming the answers. I had a blast writing it and showing it to my family. I remember I wanted to show everyone what I made. That was my first real desire to get into programming.”
Erika followed that instinct into college where she majored in Business Administration and minored in Computer Science. The kickstart to her tech career came when she landed a computer operating job while still in school. She comments, “I was originally applying for a secretarial position at this company. But someone looked at my studies and experience and saw potential in me. I didn't think I was ready for that because I was still so young, I was still in school.”
Erika went on to work as a programmer analyst and software engineer for multiple major Casino based companies. During this time, she even started and ran a local event-planning business, which fine-tuned her skills in successful customer service.
Then, someone saw potential in Erika again. A former coworker reached out and offered her a leadership position with the company that would become Light & Wonder. Erika took on the role of Software Engineering Manager and says “it’s been opportunity after opportunity ever since.”
Managing Through the Pandemic
Erika believes that the best way to lead a team is to really get to know its members. “A lot of leading is knowing the people on your team,” she explains. “Know what each person needs — What may work for one person may not work for someone else. We have to take a little bit of who they are into consideration when attempting to motivate, to coach, to inspire because we're not all motivated by the same things.”
Prior to the pandemic, Erika and her team worked together in the office, which gave her the opportunity to do so. Once the pandemic hit, however, she had to pivot to incorporating virtual meetings to be able to generate that intimacy. She organizes bi-monthly check-ins with her team members where she intentionally asks for their individual preferences on communication and feedback.
“I have one-on-ones with each of my staff every two weeks. We go over the issues that they've had and then any questions or concerns or anything that they want to chat about. Sometimes it's business and sometimes it's personal. But, I feel like taking that extra time out just to have those conversations is extremely important.”
She also cohosts weekly remote Friday cocktail hours to cultivate her team’s relationships and check in on their mental health. “During the Friday cocktail hours, we would relax, ask some questions, or play some games. And it was nice to have that interaction again and connect with the team. It also allowed me to check in on everyone's mental health and make sure that if there was anything that we could do, we were here.”
Inspired to Encourage the Team
Erika is inspired by the example of her past and current mentors and their vision for her professional trajectory. She acknowledges that it was thanks to key people who saw her potential that she has been able to have these experiences. Erika’s own personal drive and passion for encouraging and uplifting others have led her to love her leadership position.
As a manager, Erika seeks the highest level of respect and excellence for her customers, while creating an encouraging work environment for her team. “I want to make sure that my team has everything that they need in order to succeed and get their jobs done the way they want to. I want them to have the level of success that they want.”
Erika ensures that her team members feel their significant contribution to the company and how they are serving with purpose. “We need to feel like we are part of something significant,” she says. “That’s my goal as a leader and for my team.”
3 Ways to Lead with Purpose:
Drawing from her experiences as a tech leader, business owner, coach, and community volunteer, she gives us three practical ways to lead with purpose in whatever context.
- Understand the “why”. “It’s extremely important to know the why of your company. Once you understand it from the company’s perspective, you can communicate it clearly to the team. And once you get that down, you’re able to help build a strong path for them to follow so that both “why’s” are in alignment. Knowing the why of your individual team members allows you to better manage, assist, and build a relationship with them.”
- Build consistency. “I think it’s very important that we are consistent and don't deviate from the why and the task at hand. Building consistency with others motivates and inspires people to give their best, even when we don’t feel like it. When dealing with a change or a huge transition, it’s extremely important to stick to the why’s, the steps we’re taking, and the right attitude."
- Remain positive. “You have to find positivity in everything because no matter what, it could always be worse. We can always find the negative things, but there are also always positive things. As a leader, I need to be empathetic, kind, and encouraging no matter what. It’s extremely important that I’m positive and involve my team members in the process.”