We’ve been talking about the importance of collaborating with others on the CFS blog this month, and today I’d like to share some ideas for creating a collaborative culture within your organization.
4 Ideas for Creating a Collaborative Culture
Start with a Culture Check
I recommend starting with a culture check. This can be done pretty painlessly by using an online survey software like SurveyGizmo or SurveyMonkey.
Consider asking questions such as:
- How can we improve in the area of collaboration?
- What ways do you see yourself collaborating with others on your team and/or with other departments?
- Are you open to being coached?
- How do you prefer to receive feedback?
- Are you open to coaching others?
- How open is your manager to feedback?
- How comfortable are you pointing out concerns and providing constructive feedback?
By asking questions like the ones above, you’re providing employees with an opportunity to be heard. You’re also doing something very important: probing for buy-in. Because the truth is, if your employees aren’t bought-in on changing or collaborating, they won’t!
Implement Peer Coaching Using Triads
After you’ve surveyed your team and gathered bought-in people, it’s time to start taking action.
We recommend implementing a peer coaching program where employees drive each other to succeed. This can be done by creating triads—groups of three that keep each other accountable to their goals and projects. You might choose the groups of three or allow employees to choose for themselves (or some combination in-between).
Questions to Consider:
- How would it benefit my organization to have people across different departments interacting within triads?
- How would it benefit my organization to have triads that consist of a mixture of sales, marketing, and customer service?
- What impact will development-focused triads incur in my organization?
- What steps will I take to create and manage these triads?
And remember, you are the example! If you’re developing your people, you must also be focused on development. If you don’t already have one, get yourself a mentor and a triad! Then, encourage others within the organization to do the same.
Recurring Leadership & Sales Training
We’ve all been to an event with a speaker, right?
Maybe that speaker was impactful. Or maybe they weren’t. Either way, chances are you’d have a tough time remembering what they said word-for-word (I mean, I barely remember what I had for lunch yesterday!). You might remember a few highlights. Or you might have detailed notes in a notebook somewhere.
The point is: we’re human beings. Our brains can only store so much information. We remember what we believe to be important and forget the rest.
That’s why continuous training and development is so critical. It helps us to keep building on the bricks we’ve been strategically placing for years.
If you’re a sales manager, you’ve likely been focusing on building on your leadership and management skills.
If you’re a salesperson, you’ve likely been focusing on building your prospecting and selling skills.
And if you’re a CEO, you’re likely working on putting the right bricks in the right places!
I know how frustrating the idea of training can be to many. We hear it all the time! That’s why buy-in is so important. If you don’t have people in your organization that are willing to grow and change, then don’t be surprised when the company doesn’t grow!
We recommend adopting a new mindset about training. You and your employees don’t “have” to focus on training, you “get” to! The ability to continually train your staff is a privilege that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Here are some ideas for when to consider recurring training:
- Company Planning Meeting – everyone in the organization should be involved in planning, from the organizational forecast to sales, marketing, operations, customer service, and beyond. Be sure to allow each department to present their plan during this meeting. We recommend having this meeting prior to the close of your fiscal year.
- Leadership Training – we recommend having an executive retreat that includes leadership training on an annual basis at a minimum. You might consider bringing in one or two outside consultants or subject-matter experts to dive into areas where you’d like your team to develop.
- Sales Training – we also recommend annual sales training. Again, consider bringing in outside consultants or subject-matter experts – but be sure that there is buy-in from the sales team.
- Sales & Marketing Alignment – it’s wise to meet (at a minimum) before the year begins to align sales and marketing. Many of our clients begin this process during sales training as they’re building out their Problem/Opportunity Matrix.
Ongoing Throughout the Year:
- Leadership Training – on a quarterly basis, consider additional training. If you’re working on emotional intelligence, negotiation tactics, or communication skills, for example, you might consider bringing in a subject-matter expert in each of those areas to keep growth going.
- Sales Training – on a quarterly basis, consider additional sales training as well! You might focus on different areas of development in the same way that you did with leadership training. For example, on a quarterly basis developing skills in the areas of: prospecting, negotiation skills, using LinkedIn for lead generation, selling skills, communication skills, etc.
You might also consider adding additional training for your marketing, customer service, and ops teams.
Whatever you chose, be sure that training is collaborative! After all, the goal is to learn from one another and leverage the knowledge within each person. We highly recommend that during each type of training there are specific exercises included to continue to build out and develop your Sales PlayBook.
Sales PlayBook Development
Well, I saved the best for last! If you’re looking to increase collaboration between teams, this is the perfect place!
What is a Sales PlayBook?
At CFS, we believe that a Sales PlayBook should be a dynamic resource containing an organization’s best practice sales strategies and processes.
Wait, what do we mean by should? Well, a Sales PlayBook should be more than just a manual. It should be more than just a book of text.
What a Sales PlayBook is Not
Back in what we like to call “the good ‘ole days,” a Sales PlayBook was quite literally a sales manual. Said sales manual was typed up by Joe Sales Manager, or Jenny Salesperson, or Jerry Office Administrator.
This manual would include a table of contents, referring a salesperson to everything they might possibly need to know about selling.
Need to know how to get a meeting? Refer to the sales manual.
Need to know how to close a deal? Refer to the sales manual.
Need a pitch from 1989? Refer to the sales manual.
Catch the drift?
The problem with the traditional “sales manual” is that it’s simply not effective. Why? Salespeople (and most everyone) hate reading manuals.
Think in terms of appliance manuals. First, do you even read those things to begin with? If you do, how long do they stay relevant? Well, for the duration that you own that specific appliance.
If you buy a new TV, that manual will be helpful if you have a problem figuring out where the HDMI port is located, right? But what about when you replace that TV with a new one a few years later? Are you going to refer to the old TV manual? No way! It’s a new TV!
The same thing applies to the concept of a Sales PlayBook.
The sales process today is not what it was in 1965, or 1975, or 1985, or even 2015 for that matter!
Technology is advancing so quickly that industries are changing even as you read this eBook. By the time you’re done reading this, the algorithms on LinkedIn will be different and you won’t be able to tag or make notes on a contact (this really just happened).
The point: a Sales PlayBook needs to be dynamic. It needs to be easily accessed, edited quickly and simply in real time, on a platform (or app) that is flexible, and most importantly it needs to be useful!
The Collavia Sales PlayBook
In our experience, a great Sales PlayBook is interactive.
It’s a living, breathing document that not only houses best practices, but grows and develops with your team and provides value.
For us, this means that our Sales PlayBook is cloud-based and can be accessed from anywhere.
Want to build a Sales PlayBook like this, but don’t know how? I invite you to take a look at the Collavia Sales PlayBook.
Your PlayBook and Collaboration
Now that we’ve established the purpose of your Sales PlayBook, let’s talk about how it will bring your employees together.
First, the building and development of your Sales PlayBook should be a team effort – a PlayBook should never be created by just one person within an organization.
And to build the best possible Sales PlayBook, create a cross-functional team to get a diversity of perspectives. Teams like operations, customer service, marketing, and HR will contribute content the sales team wouldn’t necessarily think to include.
And remember that your PlayBook is never finished! As you’re continuing to provide sales training, establish who on the team is responsible for taking notes and updating related areas in the PlayBook. And don’t let one person hog all the glory! Make sure that many people are involved in adding content to the PlayBook. The more your team feels comfortable adding to your PlayBook, the more they will use it.
Next, find ways to add PlayBook activity into your reps’ routines. Here are some ideas:
- Success Stories – during your weekly sales team meeting, slot in a time to talk about new success stories. Have reps share their best new stories and be sure that these stories are captured and added to your Sales PlayBook.
- Scripts & Email Templates – how amazing does it feel when you discover a script that works? Encourage everyone on your team to share winning scripts and templates! Again, this is another item to consider adding to your weekly sales meeting. Share it, capture it, and continue adding winning best practices.
- Forums – the forum area of your PlayBook is the perfect place to encourage collaboration and for people to get to know each other better. You might consider a “Book Club” thread to bring people together. Or even something silly like a “My Biggest Fears” thread. The goal is to get people talking!
Want more ideas on how to make your PlayBook amazing? Check out our eBook on it! It’s called The Ultimate Guide to Creating & Managing a Sales PlayBook: What to Include, How to Manage, & Why a PlayBook is Crucial to Growing Sales.
I hope these ideas for creating a collaborative culture help as you’re focused on building your culture.
Want more on this topic? Don’t forget to grab our eBook that includes these 4 ideas for creating a collaborative culture. Click here or on the image below to download your copy.