Creating a High-Performance Sales Culture

I recently sat down with Josh McDonald from Brainheart Growth to discuss ways to create a high-performing sale culture.

Below are notes and highlights from the discussion. The conversation was loosely based on the book No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer.


  • Salespeople are hard to hire. They are often good at selling themselves, so you need objective ways of measuring candidates. 
  • Ensure the sales reps you are hiring are aligned with core business values.  Because your company culture is who you hire, fire and promote, you must be intentional about values.  
  • Hiring is important! The cost of hiring the wrong person is enormous. It’s not just the direct cost of salary and onboarding, but also the opportunity cost of missed revenue.
  • Be aware of red flags. Don’t ignore them when you see them in the interview process. 
  • Have an onboarding process, and sales process so that you can get sales reps successful sooner. You should also hire people based on their ability to “work” your system. 
  • Create an ideal hiring profile. Know what you are looking for in a sales rep. It’s often a combination of hard skills and soft skills.
  • Consider the candidate’s business acumen. Good sales reps must speak at an executive level and understand the basics of running a successful business. 


  • Consider the total compensation package for your sales reps, and understand that the best reps will likely work their best no matter the fixed/variable split.
  • Small businesses probably can’t pay top of the market, so you’ll need to focus on hiring and upskilling. 
  • When determining base pay, consider what they bring to the table. What skills or knowledge beyond sales do they have? 
  • Keep your comp plans simple, so your sales reps always know where they stand. 
  • Ensure your growth plans match your budget for sales compensation. 

Managing Performance

  • Honest and direct feedback is the best strategy. There should be no ambiguity in managing performance. 
  • Lead your conversions with context. Tell the person you are giving feedback with positive internet, even if it comes across as critical. 
  • Let reps know if they are not meeting expectations. You are not helping them by “being nice” and not confronting them. 
  • Have regular check-ins, so that you can spot issues early on. 
  • Develop a culture of direct feedback. Be aware of your company’s culture, and actively shape it. 
  • Create an ownership mindset amongst the sales team. Each sales rep should actively take ownership of their success and push for what they need.