Evaluating and Fixing Toxic Sales Environments

by Thom Tracy

4 min read

Sales jobs are some of the most mentally taxing positions in an organization, as salespeople are under pressure to perform every day and their compensation is directly tied to their sales numbers. If you’re not careful, your company can develop a toxic sales environment where employees are competing with each other and aggressively pushing customers to buy your product. The long-term effect of this type of sales environment is reduced satisfaction among your employees and customers, so it’s critical that you take steps to avoid it.

Hire the Right Salespeople

The two factors to consider with any candidates for sales positions at your company are their selling abilities and their attitudes. Ideal candidates are great at selling and bring a positive, helpful attitude to the workplace. Not only do they produce sales, but they also improve the rest of your sales team. Most of your hires should be these types of people.You can also hire people who have the right attitude but lack sales skills. Just make sure you have the resources to bring them up to speed. Good attitude alone doesn’t make someone capable of a sales job. All employees need to pull their own weight, or the rest of the sales team is going to lose motivation.Applicants with poor skills are obvious don’t-hires, as they fail to produce and bring your team down, but it’s also crucial that you not hire salespeople with attitude problems even if they have great skills. No single employee is worth your team’s success, and attitude problems are notoriously hard to fix.

Reward Salespeople Individually and as a Team

You need to walk a thin line with the compensation plan for your salespeople. The plan should motivate them to make sales without creating a cutthroat environment where no one wants to help each other. To keep your sales team working hard but also as a team, you should compensate them for their performance both as individuals and as a group.By making commissions on every sale, your salespeople have more of an incentive to sell. In addition, giving the team a bonus if it reaches a sales goal means your salespeople have an incentive to work together. This system motivates the entire sales team to perform well, because no salesperson wants to let the rest of the team down. It also boosts workplace morale.

Promote Communication Between Departments

A common roadblock in a sales environment is a lack of communication between a sales team and the rest of the company. Don’t let your sales team become isolated from other departments. Make it a part of company meetings, and keep it informed about new developments.Connecting your sales team with other departments helps them do their job more effectively. By keeping in touch with your marketing staff, the sales team can better understand and bring up any problems with lead quality. About 80% of sales occur between the fifth and 12th contact, so lead quality problems may be present if your salespeople require more than 12 contacts to secure a sale. Your product development team can also help salespeople understand products better, which makes it easier for them to answer product-related questions.

Measure Customer Satisfaction

Not all sales are created equal. It doesn’t do your business any good if your sales team convinces customers to buy products that don’t fit their needs. If your customer is dissatisfied, they’re unlikely to shop with you again. You’re also going to end up with more returns, costing your business money.Send customers follow-up surveys to gauge their satisfaction, and keep track of the reasons for product returns. If you notice too many unhappy customers or returns, talk to your sales team about it, and emphasize the need to help the customer and not just sell them a product. You should approach employees individually if just a few members of your sales team are connected to the product returns.

Spread the Best Leads Around

The rich get richer isn’t a good philosophy for a sales team. It’s tempting to give the best leads to your top performers, as they’re more likely to close the deal and make money for your company. The reason this strategy doesn’t work is that it can build resentment among the rest of your salespeople, since it leaves them with tougher sales to make and puts you in a more vulnerable position should you lose one of your top performers. Keep your lead distribution as even as possible so everyone has a chance to succeed and workplace morale can stay high.Creating the right sales environment is one of the most important parts of your company’s success. A positive environment leads to positive salespeople, and salespeople are often a customer’s first point of contact with your company. Make smart hiring choices as you build your sales team, and encourage them to work together to keep your business humming and your products flying off the shelves.

References & Resources

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