How Entry-Level Candidates Can Identify the Right Sales Culture

My mentor out of college insisted my first job be in sales. What I didn’t know is that he wanted me to learn humility by having the door slammed in my face many times before I felt the victory of my first sale. It was amazing and I grew hungry for more. I’ve been fortunate in my career to manage sales teams for early stage startups as well as billion dollar companies. I’ve learned that if the sales culture is healthy, you’ll go to the moon. And if the company you’re interested in joining embraces these five values and practices, take the job.

1. Authenticity

One of the top reasons sales people leave their current company is because of a dysfunctional company culture. Ask probing questions about the culture during your interview process. How many leadership changes have occurred? How is the office environment? What are the company core values and vision? How much time does leadership spend with the sales team? Etc. Questions like these will help you scope out more info on the company’s functioning and authenticity.

2. Communication

There's nothing more ineffective than an uninformed sales team. During the interview process, make sure to ask how the company communicates with its employees, how often it does so, and on which platforms. Productive company cultures provide product and company information on a regular basis and reinforce clear expectations often. More importantly, healthy companies spend one-on-one time with you to understand what’s going well and what needs improvement.  If you don’t feel that the environment allows for open and honest communication, it’s a red flag.

3. Simplicity

Healthy sales cultures value making selling easy for their client facing teams. The most important question you can ask during the interview is: what is your sales enablement strategy?  If they don’t have one, it’s a red flag. While definitions of sales enablement vary, my definition is any process, platform, or marketing support that makes selling faster, easier, and more effective.  Sales enablement strategies include everything from management and coaching, to sales process, to consistent messaging, to tools and technologies that manage the process optimizing performance. How does the company make it easy for you to onboard and start selling effectively?

4. Accountability

A culture of respect and accountability keeps everybody honest. If the company doesn’t have a “do what you say” culture overall, it’s a red flag. Learn more about how the company holds each other accountable for delivering on objectives.

5. Fun

Fun happens when sales teams achieve goals. Goals are achieved when there is open and honest communication, authentic relationships, a sales enablement strategy, accountability for people’s actions. Great sales leaders know how to celebrate a winning team for their hard work. Ask for examples of how they celebrate their sales successes.

The best way to be sure that the company you’re interested in has a great sales culture is to talk to other sales people on the team. This is common, so don’t be afraid to ask for introductions. No matter what your aspirations and career goals are, you’ve made a great choice to go into sales. And because of this choice, you will be a better person in life.

Jill Erickson | Former Chief Revenue Officer, Shiftgig

Jill Erickson