"My vision is that great sales culture flows from everyone to everyone in a peer-to-peer model." - Christopher Wiltberger

Chris is a General Manager for Southern Europe at Freshworks. He is passionate about building and gathering teams around shared values to pursue ambitious goals in creative ways. He dedicates himself to creating scalable and sustainable settings aimed at overachieving and delivering great results. 


What makes a great sales culture?

Successful companies often have great sales cultures. It's a mindset, a set of behaviors, and a philosophy that permeates every function and location. Many people believe that a great work culture starts with top management and resonates outward (much like a client-server model in IT). My vision is that great culture flows from everyone to everyone in a peer-to-peer model.


How important are people analytics in building a great culture?

People analytics explains why HR has become so important of late. Ten or 20 years ago, corporate boards and executive committees did not typically invite HR to the table. Now HR is everywhere because companies understand that people are their most essential assets than revenues, buildings, and products. Job satisfaction, performance, retention rates, and onboarding speed are all metrics that give management insights for tuning corporate strategy and delivering solid results to the bottom line. 


What advice would you give to new sales leaders on managing for high performance and success?

It's natural to want to hang around with successful people. Look at all the sycophants around movie stars and celebrities! It's easy to focus on and praise the high achievers, but they are not the ones who need your support. At the same time, we tend to avoid spending time with less successful people because they require more support. It can also be challenging to identify these folks because they avoid the spotlight. You need to find the less successful performers and endeavor to understand what's not working because getting this group to success makes a massive difference to the overall team performance.


Do you think diversity plays a role in team happiness and success?

When we achieve gender diversity, we often think our problems with diversity are solved. But there are so many other forms of diversity — race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age and so on. There is a natural tendency to recruit people just like you, but then you end up with a room full of people who all think alike. When everyone thinks alike, there isn't much thinking happening. When you foster diversity, you get different life experiences and backgrounds. That brings real value to the table. It can be tricky to lead more diverse teams, but McKinsey recently published a study showing that ethnic and gender diversity positively affects the bottom line. 


What is the best formula for rewarding outstanding sales performance?

You can give successful salespeople more banknotes, but that isn't always the thing that brings a sparkle to their eyes. The sparkle comes when you show that you have thought about how to reward someone. So, if you know this person is fond of Opera, you might find two perfect premium seats for the next show in Paris. If they're into tennis, maybe you can get them seats at the French Open. Doing something personal like that brings the sparkle. It makes people happy and more efficient at work, which is particularly true of people in sales. You want to enforce this kind of mindset. You want to have a "happiness dictatorship" at work for the greater good of the company and its employees.

(The interview was conducted during the second half of 2020. It has been edited for brevity and clarity.)