Team collaboration is easier said than done.
Think back to your college or high school years. Remember those dreaded “group projects”? You were either the achiever, the slacker, or somewhere in between. To me, it seemed that an even workload balance was somewhat impossible. (I was the achiever, BTW. So typical, I know! But somebody had to do it!)
Fast-forward to today. If you’re reading this, you’re likely a CEO, Sales Manager or VP, salesperson, or maybe even part of the marketing team. And if you’re anything like me, the word team collaboration still makes you feel a little uneasy.
But don’t fret. Today is a new day and change is a wonderful thing. Let’s explore how to encourage team collaboration in sales, and ways that your team can work together for the greater good.
Ineffective Team Collaboration
Now before we get started, I’d like to make one thing clear. Effective team collaboration in sales should not take precedence over an individual salespersons goals, sales process, or time. And unfortunately, I’ve seen this happen time and time again.
I get it. Management wants team collaboration. Because it is important. And it’s been proven that teams that collaborate are far more successful than teams that don’t.
So, when is team collaboration not effective? Well, if you’re forcing your sales team to sit through countless hours of team building exercises each week for the sake of “teamwork,” I’d say that’s ineffective. Sure, team building is important. In fact, it’s something we encourage here at CFS. But having a plan, a process, and a desired outcome for said sales team building exercises is critical. Time is money to salespeople, so be sure to make it worth their effort!
Encouraging Team Collaboration
Now that we know what’s not effective, let’s talk about what is. Below are a few ways to encourage team collaboration while also advancing your entire sales team.
Sharing Best Practices
This might seem simple, but sharing best practices is one of the best ways to promote team collaboration AND allow your salespeople to grow personally and professionally.
Think about it this way: no two people are the same. We all have different experiences, think uniquely, and perceive situations diversely. This means that when we’re selling, our approaches vary. And this is actually a very good thing. It means that opportunities for us to learn from others are endless. I’m a firm believer that everyone has something to teach and something to learn.
So, let’s forget the A, B, and C salesperson mumbo-jumbo for a second. Or the “high performer” versus the “low performer.” A person’s ability or inability to perform at a level subscribed by management is not an indicator of a person’s knowledge or aptitude. Let me repeat: everyone has something to teach and something to learn.
With that said, allow your Sales PlayBook to be a portal for sharing best practices. Encourage sales team collaboration by asking your salespeople to post what’s working for them, and what isn’t. Both are beneficial and will allow other members of the team to grow.
Social & Educational Events
Want to create a company culture that promotes team collaboration? Encourage your sales team to work together on social and educational events.
Now if you’re currently on a sales team with an “island mentality,” you might not like this one. But I’m going to talk about it anyway! Because this has brought me a lot of success in the past.
In my opinion, providing value for my prospects is far more important than making a sale. At the end of the day, if a prospect or customer has gained nothing from me or my company, I/we have failed. So, the first goal of selling then is to serve. And one of the best ways to serve others is by providing them with value.
When I worked in property damage restoration, one of the best ways to serve insurance agents was to provide continuing education classes. Of course, they needed the credits to maintain their license. But the company I worked for took it a step further. It wasn’t just about giving insurance agents CE credits. It was also about providing educational information that they didn’t have access to, or wouldn’t learn otherwise.
And this is where team collaboration came into play. Sure, I could’ve lived on an island with my own insurance agent clients. I could’ve provided CE classes exclusively to the ones that I interacted with. But that wouldn’t have benefited my clients.
So, what did benefit my clients? Organizing CE classes and social events that included a variety of agents—including agents from other sales reps. The diversity allowed more people to learn from one another (similar to the way that sharing best practices works among sales teams). It also allowed them to network with one another and pass business to one another.
At the end of the day, it wasn’t about us as a sales reps. It was about putting our clients first and providing value to them.
To add to the previous point, let’s explore outside perspective. Sure, we tend to think we know best. We have a tendency to assume that our prospects and clients want this or that. But when was the last time we actually asked?
Asking for opinions from outside sources doesn’t make your company weak or unwise. It actually makes your company strong and informed.
So, encourage your team to ask for advice (and often) from outside sources. Then follow the first point here and urge them to share their discoveries with one another.
Team collaboration can be a beautiful thing. And it has the ability to transform your company. All you have to do is believe.