A “Goal-Driven” Culture Is Not Helping Your Sales Team

Freshworks commissioned Harvard Business Review Analytic Services to understand the effect of happiness and culture on a sales team’s productivity and performance. The research also focused on whether the happiness factor has an impact on the most important business metric: annual sales. 

How did we go about it:

The team at Harvard Business Review Analytic Services asked more than 300 sales leaders across the globe to rate their sales team’s happiness on a scale of 0 to 10. Executives who rated themselves 8-10 were part of ‘very happy sales cultures’ and those with a score of 7 or below a part of ‘less happy sales cultures.’

Then, the two groups were compared on the most critical business and sales metrics to understand what separated the winners from the losers.  

This is what we learned:

Myth 1:

Happiness is the result of my team hitting their goals.

The finding:

The very happy group was more likely than the less happy group to report increases in:

  • Sales team hitting quota: +29 percentage points 
  • Opening new business: +26 points
  • Customer satisfaction: +25 points 
  • Annual sales: +22 points 
  • Productivity: +21 points 
  • Conversion rate: +20 points 


Businesses with happy sales teams experience significantly better business outcomes.

Myth 2:

Positive-sounding code words such as “Work hard, play hard” work best to improve my team’s performance.

The finding:

66% of all executives agree that the “typical” sales culture can work against salesperson happiness.

In fact, sales cultures that are “goal-driven” and believe in “work hard, play hard” result in less happy teams.  These cultures characterize a less nurturing, more competitive environment where salespeople may feel under constant pressure — the very hurdles that prevent teams to be happy.


“Social”, “transparent”, and “supportive” are the culture codes of a very happy sales culture.

Myth 3:

Sales tech, such as my CRM system, is designed (and rightfully so) to manage my sales team.

The finding:

Sales teams prefer using a CRM that empowers them and does not just manage them.

The less happy group is more likely to say that their current sales tech requires too much time to handle administrative/non-selling tasks.

Also, who chooses your sales tech also determines the happiness of your team. CRMs are often chosen for sales teams and not with them. In fact, just 30% of respondents say that it is their top priority to involve their sales team when choosing a sales tech.


The right CRM that empowers your sales team is a significant predictor of how happy your team feels.

What is your sales culture like? Take this fun quiz to find out! (You’ll get personalized recommendations.)