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Wolfpack mentality: How Cognism built and scaled its B2B sales culture

September 14, 2021

Say the first 3 things that come into your mind about wolves aloud.

Our guess is none of them were positive. I mean, just look at ours:

Savagery. Canada Goose. Leo's Oscar snub. 

And David Attenborough isn’t the only one seething. Because Cognism’s Global Head of Sales, Jonathan Ilett, and Associate Sales Director, Saif Khan, have helped foster a wolfpack mentality in our sales team.

In fact, Jon, our very first rep, has helped scale it across 90 salespeople across EMEA and AMER.

Of course, that mentality isn’t about chewing prospects up and spitting them out. It’s about trust, teamwork, and combining individual with collective success.

Want to assemble your own wolfpack? Scroll to find out how 👇

What is a wolfpack mentality in B2B sales?

Saif: People might assume that a wolfpack is a group of savage wild animals. But that’s not what a wolfpack mentality is about for me. 

Instead, it's about a collective effort. 

For example, if a wolf goes out to hunt on its own, it’s far less successful and efficient compared to when it’s part of the pack. 

The same goes for B2B sales teams.

Jon: Sales is a team sport, regardless of how much people focus on individuality. When you’re trying to close more complex deals, for example, you can’t do it alone. 

You need to lean manager for advice, all while liaising with product, customer success, and the prospect themselves. 

Selfish salespeople get stuck in those situations, to the detriment of themselves and the wider team. On the other hand, team players who are willing to learn from their peers succeed. 

How can you foster a wolfpack mentality?

Saif: All new ramping AEs have their own Slack channel, which allows them to draw on the experiences of others and get answers to the questions they have. 

This small community also prepares them for the next step, which is entry into the main BDM channel. 

Other practical steps we take to engender a positive sales culture include: 

  • Weekly 121s 
  • Mentor/mentee schemes
  • Individual demo reviews with line managers 
  • Team demo reviews 

Everything here applies to everyone on the team, ensuring senior and junior staff are accountable to one another. 

Jon: A ramp period for new SDRs also helps you foster a wolfpack mentality. 

In this process, reps are gradually integrated into your sales culture as they meet certain criteria and learn from other, more established, team members. 

After they attain all the milestones you lay out, they become fully fledged members of the team.

What doesn’t a wolfpack mentality include?

Saif: Most negative sales cultures include people so obsessed with beating each other that they forget about the collective goal of the team. 

Of course, some competition is healthy, but when you cross the line, it breeds jealousy. To prevent that, you need to celebrate each other’s wins.

That might be a round of applause when a rep in the office gets an MB or a shoutout on a shared Slack channel.  

How should you deal with a top performer with a bad attitude?

Jon: It depends on the stage your business is at.

If you’re a small team, one bad apple can have a huge impact on culture, regardless of how talented they are.

On the other hand, if you have a bigger team, you’ll likely break it up into different subsets.  

This means individuals have less influence on the wider culture, giving you the opportunity to challenge people, let them see the error of their ways, and see how they respond. 

Are there any common traps sales leaders fall into when trying to engender a wolfpack mentality? If so, how can they avoid them?

Saif: One thing that makes Cognism’s sales culture so effective is that it doesn’t give into confrontational personalities or ego-centric people. 

There are times when salespeople feel they don't need to attend team activities, for example. But at Cognism, we make them compulsory. 

Because as soon as you start giving people a pass, your culture spirals out of control. And once that happens, it’s difficult to get it back.

Jon: Inevitably, business processes evolve over time. And not everyone likes change.

But you switch things up to ensure your culture doesn’t stagnate and standards don’t drop. 

That means you can’t tolerate pushbacks from a minority of team members. Instead, you have to chart the course and stick to it.

Saif: Being able to manage different personalities is also super important.

You’ll have people in the team who’ll need an arm around the shoulder a little bit more. Others need you to be blunt and to the point. Others need to be left alone and come to you when they need to.

Everyone works in their own way and giving people the autonomy to do that and striking that balance with team activities is crucial.

Because it’s a fine line between having standardised processes across the team and then being a micromanager. 

Any final thoughts?

Jon: You can’t just build a culture overnight and it takes a lot of discipline to scale it. That said, by committing to it, you’ll reap the long-term benefits.

Saif: Treating your salespeople as individuals within your culture is the key. This will make them feel comfortable and ensure your wolfpack mentality takes off. 

wolfpack mentality b2b sales culture

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