At Atlanta-based SalesLoft, company culture drives every decision made and interaction that takes place. It wasn’t always that way. Or, it was, depending on how you look at it. Originally started in 2011 by Kyle Porter, the sales development platform was all but shut down less than two years later due to poorly managed yet rapid growth. Porter regrouped at the beginning of 2013 with a new team and a new set of core values that come before anything else.
“We put culture at the forefront of everything,” says Brian Culler, director of engineering at SalesLoft. “In the course of running the business, if something could put the people and culture in jeopardy, we won’t do it.”
In addition to operating a results-only work environment, celebrating wins with a gong, and doing weekly check-ins with all 80-plus employees, SalesLoft boasts six core company values, which include always looking for the positive outcome, as well as being self-starting, empathetic and supportive of other team members. These core values come up early and often, with new hires hearing about them at their very first interview.
Culler says it’s a mistake for startups to not think about culture before hiring their first employees. “If you don’t start with it, then with every person you add it gets more and more impossible to put that culture in place,” he says.
But culture at SalesLoft is more than just a recruiting tool. It helps drive innovation and growth. The weekly check-ins are powered by 15five, a productivity tool that quickly helps managers identify what team members have accomplished, what they’re struggling with and how they’re feeling about it—all by answering five questions.
Culler’s team answers their questions by Thursday; he reviews and responds by Friday. Questions, concerns or praises he couldn’t address on his own he then “sends up” to Porter or Rob Forman, COO and co-founder. They take the weekend and respond on Sunday.
“You can tag people, which makes it have almost a social network feel,” Culler says. “It’s a really nice way to bring up issues that wouldn’t normally come up, It’s also a really great platform for shout-outs.”
In addition to using 15five, SalesLoft employees also meet one-on-one with their managers every week. It’s a big time commitment, adhering to this company culture, but Culler believes it’s also the key to SalesLoft success.
“There are always problems to solve in a startup,” he says. “Our culture allows us to overcome those problems as fast as we do.”