When I was in school, I played club volleyball. It was an intense environment — we traveled all around the country playing other teams in decked out conference centers and stadiums.
Our coaches took our seasons very seriously. Practices were strict, physical training was mandatory, and we were encouraged to ask for anything we needed to prepare for tournaments — extra reps, a specific food or drink, even a certain playlist on our iPods. (Yep, this was the pre-iPhone era.)
Regardless of where my team traveled or who we were playing, our coaches and trainers worked hard to cultivate a positive, successful environment for us. Looking back, I can see how the choices they made and culture they created ultimately helped us become the winningest team in our volleyball club. Moreover, our team stayed together for years.
The environments we play in and work in aren’t too different — they’re huge contributors to our success (or lack thereof) in each arena. Studies have shown that happy, motivated people work harder, stay in their jobs longer, and make their companies more successful.
In your sales organization, this starts with your sales environment.
Your sales environment is the culture, habitat, and camaraderie you cultivate for your sales team. It encompasses everything from how you physically organize your sales floor to the emotional environment you encourage in meetings and presentations to how you incentivize your sales representatives.
A sales environment is a vague, intangible concept. How do you measure it? Think of it this way: How do you want your sales reps to feel when they step on your sales floor (or log into work from their home office)? Moreover, how do you want them to describe what it’s like to work in your sales organization?
I’m betting you’d like your sales team to answer these questions with overwhelmingly positive language. You want your sales team to feel encouraged, driven, and supported. You’d like them to describe your sales organization as positive, inclusive, and successful.
This feedback is important as a negative, toxic sales environment can lead to low morale, high turnover, and negative results. It’s worth the time, effort, and investment to cultivate a positive sales environment.
Let’s unpack the different types of sales environments and how to ensure each is successful.
Types of Sales Environments
You can define your sales environment according to a number of factors: where you’re selling from, who you’re selling to, how you incentivize the selling process, and more. For that reason, more than one of the following types of sales environments may apply to your sales organization.
In-Office Sales Environment
When you first thought of a “sales environment,” you probably pictured the physical layout of an office floor, right? I sure did. While this doesn’t encompass every aspect of a sales environment and culture, it’s definitely a critical part.
If you manage an in-person sales team, consider organizing an open office environment. An open space encourages collaboration and transparency, and it allows reps to shadow and learn from each other’s sales calls. Moreover, it encourages openness and cooperation between sales reps and their managers and leaders.
However, don’t limit your sales team to only a no-walls environment. Provide private spaces like conference rooms and cubicles for private meetings and quiet, focused time. Your team needs both.
Most importantly, ask your team what kind of office environment they prefer. They’re the only ones who can tell you. If you give them what they need to succeed, they’ll feel comfortable and compelled to work harder.
Remote Sales Environment
Cultivating a remote sales environment is a bit different. As more sales organizations move to a work-from-home model, it’s important to understand how to create a positive and collaborative remote culture.
While you can’t physically organize your remote sales team, you can encourage communication and transparency through weekly stand-up meetings, routine one-on-ones, and an open door policy over tools like Slack or email. Additionally, be sure to equip your team with the necessary software to collaborate with each other from home, including a CRM and other sales enablement tools.
Another important aspect of a remote sales environment is the feedback process. Do your reps feel comfortable approaching you with constructive feedback? Do you regularly ask them their thoughts on how you structure your meetings and sales training? This line of communication is even more important to establish when you’re not working from an office.
B2B Sales Environment
A B2B sales environment is defined by who you’re selling to — other businesses. In this environment, sales representatives have fewer customers, larger sales, and longer sales cycles. For this reason, many B2B sales teams engage in consultative selling, where they build long-term, mutually beneficial sales relationships with customers.
B2C Sales Environment
B2C sales environments see more transactional selling. This is where sales reps (or sometimes retail associates, clerks, or customer service representatives) sell lower-priced items that don’t always require long-term customer relationships. However, it’s still encouraged that B2C sales reps build rapport with and delight their users, even if they’re one-time customers.
Incentive-Based Sales Environment
Many sales environments, whether remote or in-person, B2B or B2C, operate with some sort of incentive-based program. Sales incentives, rewards, and contests encourage healthy competition and motivate sales reps to make sales and exceed quotas.
In addition to incentives, many organizations cultivate a goal-driven sales environment. This type of environment encourages reps to set personal and team-wide sales goals to focus on each month, quarter, or year. Not only does this motivate reps to meet their goals; it also provides a way to measure progress and growth over time across the team.
Lastly, creating a positive sales environment is easier when you communicate and publicize your reps’ successes. Whether you broadcast wins over the intercom, read off top sales numbers in weekly meetings, or post content winners on a break room board, be sure to show how proud you are to employ your sales team.
Why work in a sales-oriented environment?
Regardless of what kind of sales culture you cultivate for your sales organization, it’s highly rewarding to work in a sales-oriented environment. These environments encourage unique relationships and provide thrilling opportunities and incentives. More importantly, sales reps have a chance to challenge themselves to meet and exceed new and exciting sales goals.
Work with your team to understand what motivates and drives them to be successful. Then, take this information and bake it into your sales culture. It’s worth the time, effort, and investment to cultivate a positive sales environment. Your employees, customers, and bottom line will thank you.