Culture over commission: What motivates sales teams at 8 Colorado companies

by April Bohnert
April 23, 2019

Money is a big driver for sales professionals (and rightfully so), but it isn’t everything. In order to grow and succeed in sales, you have to dig deep, lean on your peers and set ambitious goals that go beyond a commission check. To keep their teams firing on all cylinders, local tech sales leaders are focused on building strong, collaborative cultures and creating incentives that not only encourage big numbers but also professional growth, empowerment and a sense of ownership over one’s work.

We caught up with eight local sales leaders to learn more about what makes their teams unique and what really drives them to keep pushing toward their goals. Here’s what they had to say.

 

Conga sales team culture Colorado tech
Phto via Conga.

Conga’s suite of tools simplifies the automation of data, documents, contracts and reporting, helping businesses run more efficiently — with less paperwork. Area Vice President of Commercial Sales West Trish Hyde explained why trust and confidence have been critical to the success of her team.

 

What have been some of your most successful tactics in motivating your team? Why do you think these worked the best?

One of the key factors that has led to successfully building and motivating a team stems from developing their confidence. Reinforcing that their abilities and contributions matter to the overall success of the business helps them to feel a deeper connection to and overall ownership of their output.

Ensuring that the team knows you are there to support and guide rather than control and restrain is also key. It builds trust and allows for deeper engagement and truthful exchange.

 

Reinforcing that [my teammates'] abilities and contributions matter to the overall success of the business helps them to feel a deeper connection to and overall ownership of their output.”

What sets the members of your team apart from other teams you've worked with in the past?

I have been very fortunate when it comes to the teams I have been a part of. Each has helped me grow as a person and a leader. As for the current team I am working with, they are quite simply an amazing group. They are truly curious, humble, compassionate, driven, business-minded and have a deep desire to do right by both the company and their clients. I trust them and they trust me; that, in the end, is the key!

 

Evolve Vacation Rental Network sales team culture Colorado tech
Photo via Evolve.

Evolve Vacation Rental helps homeowners professionally manage their rental properties and generate more income by providing them with the tools and services they need to be successful — all while delivering the seamless, transparent booking experiences that travelers have come to expect. Director of Property Acquisition Operations Lauren Linzer gave us some insight into the ways she keeps her team motivated and the role the company’s culture plays in keeping morale high.

 

What have been some of your most successful tactics in motivating your team? Why do you think these worked the best?

While the individual compensation plan for sales reps does motivate behaviors that we are looking for in our business, we have found team-based contests and celebrations tend to be the most motivating tactic. The team has celebrated wins with axe throwing and Escape Room outings. We also celebrate all-team accomplishments with big celebrations. This month we're headed to a popular happy hour spot with oversized games like cornhole and Jenga as a reward for pushing hard to hit our challenging company goal.

The reason lies in the underlying culture of the team. From the very first day a new sales rep joins the team, we emphasize the importance of peer learning and mentorship. They also tend to be like-minded and build close connections with each other, so company-sponsored outings — whether as an entire sales team or in their individual team — are seen as highly valued rewards.

 

From the very first day a new sales rep joins the team, we emphasize the importance of peer learning and mentorship.”

What sets the members of your team apart from other teams you've worked with in the past?

For a sales team, the team is highly collaborative and supportive of each other and the broader mission. We attract sales people who are intrinsically motivated to succeed and contribute to Evolve. We also find that they value the culture and community within the team. This helps keep the sales floor positive and each member supporting the other.

 

Udemy sales team culture Colorado tech
Photo via Udemy.

Udemy’s global marketplace connects learners and teachers around the world, offering more than 100,000 online courses that cover just about every subject you can imagine — from photography and music to software development and UX design. Director of Commercial Sales David Wiedeman explained how he keeps his team motivated while building a culture of trust and collaboration.

 

What have been some of your most successful tactics in motivating your team? Why do you think these worked the best?

In order to successfully motivate individuals or teams, you must first establish trust. I invest a lot of time getting to know each member of my team, both personally and professionally. Each person is motivated by different things, so it's important to understand what makes them tick. They know that I truly care about them as people first and have their best interests at heart. As a result, my teams are motivated to go after not only their numbers but the team number as well.

I think this method works because, at the end of the day, we are all people who need to feel supported in our endeavors. People are willing to work harder for those who have their backs and genuinely want to see them succeed.

 

I invest a lot of time getting to know each member of my team, both personally and professionally. Each person is motivated by different things, so it's important to understand what makes them tick.” 

What sets the members of your team apart from other teams you've worked with in the past?

Our team here at Udemy for Business is one of the most collaborative teams I've had the pleasure of being a part of. Everyone is invested in the success of their peers, and they’re constantly discussing best practices and sharing materials. We are all working together towards a common goal, which is helping employees do whatever comes next for each of our clients. On top of that, we have a lot of fun and celebrate our wins!

 

Granicus sales team culture Colorado tech
Photo via Granicus.

Granicus designs products and software specifically with government organizations in mind, delivering a cloud platform that helps them improve transparency, efficiency and citizen participation in the communities they serve. VP of Sales Sam Morton shared what he thinks makes his teams special — and why their customers think so, too.

 

What have been some of your most successful tactics in motivating your team? Why do you think these worked the best?

Our sales teams are very self-motivated. We provide uncapped commissions and some fantastic career opportunities. They also have a deep sense of accomplishment because we are a leader in the govtech SaaS space and our products have a very wide social impact. Our clients greet us with hugs instead of handshakes, and that is a testament to how much they appreciate the hard work our teams put in for them. All of this leads to highly motivated sales reps who want to go above and beyond their regular duties.

 

Our clients greet us with hugs instead of handshakes, and that in itself is a testament to how much they appreciate the hard work our teams put in for them.” 

What sets the members of your team apart from other teams you've worked with in the past?

Of all the companies that I have worked with, this sales team has the least amount of selfishness I have seen. There is a lot of camaraderie and collaboration amongst the team members, and that is very rare to find in the sales world

 

Greenhouse Software sales team culture Colorado tech
Photo via Greenhouse.

Greenhouse aims to make companies great at hiring by delivering a suite of cloud tools that encompass the entire hiring journey and even help them accomplish goals like building culture and creating more diverse and inclusive teams. SDR Manager Greg Moore explained how embracing failure makes his team more successful.

 

What have been some of your most successful tactics in motivating your team? Why do you think these worked the best?

Anyone who has been in an inside sales or a sales development role knows that you’ll have more rejections than wins. For that reason, motivation is not just important to us, it’s critical to team morale. My most successful tactic is celebrating every single success on the team. Whether it’s as small as a first meeting set by a ramping SDR or as big as a meeting set that converts to closed business, everyone gets a shout out. Besides, that’s what makes the job fun!

 

Anyone who has been in an inside sales or a sales development role knows that you’ll have more rejections than wins. For that reason, motivation is not just important to us, it’s critical to team morale.” 

What sets the members of your team apart from other teams you've worked with in the past?

My team at Greenhouse is the definition of resiliency and perseverance, which is both refreshing and unique from any other team I’ve led. With coaching, they take risks and show real ambition. They have truly embraced one of my biggest mottos: Fail big, fail fast, fail often. That takes courage, and it allows them to succeed in both their external sales goals and also our internal recurring competitions and sales blitzes.

 

Vertafore sales team culture Colorado tech
Photo via Vertafore.

Vertafore’s cloud-based software enables insurance agents and carriers to grow their businesses and boost productivity by providing them with deep analytical insights and advanced technology tools. Central Sales Manager Jenny Lewis explained how giving each member of her team a clear view of the big picture motivates them to do their best and work together to succeed.

 

What have been some of your most successful tactics in motivating your team? Why do you think these worked the best?

I feel it’s important to give my team visibility into my goals for the team as a whole. Each rep is an individual contributor, but they’re helping to achieve a team goal, which works up to a company goal. I’ve seen that when each rep knows what we’re working toward, they want to help their team, their manager and the company succeed. The idea that “we win together” is a part of Vertafore’s culture and is central to my team’s motivation. Keeping my team happy and working hard is important to me, so I also bring us together for team outings like water park trips and happy hours.

I take a genuine approach to the working relationship I have with my team. We’re teammates, but as their manager I’m also here to enable their success. I’m committed to their success and want them to have fun while achieving their goals. I’m also straightforward with my team, and when I say I’m going to help them with anything, I keep my word. Here at Vertafore, we call that “say it, do it,” meaning we honor all of our commitments.  

 

I’ve seen that when each rep knows what we’re working toward, they want to help their team, their manager and the company succeed.” 

What sets the members of your team apart from other teams you've worked with in the past?

I’ve never worked on a team that works as hard as this one. When they need to get something done, they don’t rely on me to make it happen. They help one another and that fosters trust, creativity and growth. This group is a manager’s dream. They also have a genuine interest in helping the customer succeed in their goals of utilizing our software. Together, I see us make a difference and I’m not sure I can ask for much more.

 

Trustpilot sales team culture Colorado tech
Photo via Trustpilot.

Trustpilot’s community-driven review platform helps consumers make informed buying decisions and discover new businesses — both online and in their local communities. Sales Manager, North America, Tara Finucane gave us a glimpse into some of the sweet perks her salespeople can earn and how they work together to achieve both personal and company goals.

 

What have been some of your most successful tactics in motivating your team? Why do you think these worked the best?

Trustpilot makes motivation a no-brainer with rewards ranging from Presidents Club in Croatia, Italy and Mexico to Governor's Dinner each month for the top performers, as well as contests to travel cross-office for a week in NYC and London.

When it comes to me and my team, I make sure to meet for one-on-ones each month and quarter so we never lose sight of the drivers — whether that be getting to Presidents Club, buying their first house or funding three bachelorette trips next month. We also circulate this as a team so we're all operating as a larger unit and working toward the same team goal, on top of everything else.

 

Trustpilot makes motivation a no-brainer with rewards ranging from Presidents Club in Croatia, Italy and Mexico to Governor's Dinner each month for the top performers, as well as contests to travel cross-office for a week in NYC and London.”

What sets the members of your team apart from other teams you've worked with in the past?

This group is a bunch of self-starters. I focus on empowering each of them to own their book of business and lean on me as a coach. That's the only way to curate that hunger to develop further and that's what keeps the team strong as a unit.

Sales reps are always competitive, but not all sales reps are team players. This group is both and that's something we protect as part of our team dynamic. Grit is the common denominator for the Mavericks — seniors, account executives, recent hires or recent promotions, everyone rolls up their sleeves to put up numbers.

 

GHX sales team culture Colorado tech
Photo via GHX.

GHX’s cloud-based supply chain technology exchange platform empowers healthcare organizations to deliver better patient care by connecting them with manufacturers and suppliers that can help them streamline and automate their business processes. Account Development Manager Kelli Froland explained how she and her teammates gear up for big client meetings.

 

What have been some of your most successful tactics in motivating your team? Why do you think these worked the best?

My team at GHX focuses on small to mid-sized manufacturers and distributors that sell into healthcare. Given the widespread coverage of our U.S. and Canadian territory, our team travels to visit our clients in person as frequently as possible. While this cannot be as recurrent as we would like, this requires each and every meeting to be intense and extremely high stakes — typically split seven hours between two days.

Outside of the standard meeting preparation, one key thing I do to prep myself for these meetings is build a “walk-up song” playlist to boost our energy and pre-plan for success. I’m not going to lie, we play this playlist in its entirety in the car outside our client site. Due to the fact that the people I’m meeting with range all the way from healthcare executives to supply chain experts with decades of knowledge, it is always important that I bring my confidence, energy and personality to the table to be able to truly listen to them and connect with their business needs — not the other way around.

 

We are one organization that truly works together to deliver the best results to our community as possible, even when that means innovating in ways we never have before.” 

What sets the members of your team apart from other teams you've worked with in the past?

My team is extremely resourceful and has an amazing sense of collaboration. It’s hard to be successful at GHX without collaborating with other teams, and for sales that is especially true. In comparison to other teams I have worked with in the past, at GHX there is never the mentality of “that is not my job.” We are one organization that truly works together to deliver the best results to our community as possible, even when that means innovating in ways we never have before. When we are working on a deal, we bring in all of our experts — solutions specialists, implementation teams, consulting, sales operations, you name it. We have a mantra that “we don’t lose alone and we win together.”

 

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