When people think of sales, they often think of the Mad Men era where bulldogs prowled and sharks waited to attack. The idea was that sales teams would only thrive in an environment of “sink or swim,” “eat or be eaten,” or in layman’s terms, one of fierce competition. In this vein, the sales managers used to encourage the fierce competition of entire departments. For companies with short term goals, and a disregard for high turnover, the feeding frenzy style sales efforts of the old days seemed to be the lucrative path. However, in today’s world where short term gains do not translate to longevity, it is important that the feeding frenzy is left behind in favor of a more collaborative environment, especially when it comes to sales collaboration.
Why Do Companies Need Collaboration?
Simply put, collaboration is more effective. In the old days, there were only a few companies competing for the bulk of business (across a multitude of industries). Now, the digital age has created an environment where degrees of separation are dwindling, while business vs. business competition continues to increase. As competition grows, the reality is that a single salesperson will not be able to gather the insights, contacts, and information needed to compete with coordinated teams. Instead of encouraging your sales team to blur the lines between territories, steal leads, or “do whatever it takes to make individual quotas, you should create an environment where they can collaborate to achieve enhanced results.
Creating Sales Collaboration Is Made Easier With These Strategies
Vince Lombardi once stated that, “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
Collaboration can’t begin unless you are sharing information. Nobody will know more about your company than the people who work there on a daily basis. As such, it is important that your sales team works together to determine how to effectively share information about your company with prospective customers. Implement the following tips to create an environment that encourages the sharing, not hiding, of information:
- Speak openly about losses;
- Discuss deals openly and with the entire team;
- Ask the entire team to weigh-in on important discussions (especially those surrounding a tough prospect or challenging customer); and
- Treat each individual with the respect that they deserve and the knowledge that they are an important member of the team.
Invest In Your Sales Team to Promote Sales Collaboration
You can’t create an environment of collaboration if your team is constantly bickering over who can use the available technologies. In short, you need to invest in the training, services, and tools that your team needs to be successful. Take a page from Forbes’ recent restructuring and demonstrate your commitment to success and increased sales by investing in the entities that your team needs to succeed.
Question The Gamification Of Split Commissions
All too often managers try to encourage collaboration by dividing commissions amongst the salespeople on a deal. While this might seem like a good practice, the reality is that it often results in gamesmanship that can leave employees feeling overworked and undervalued. Conversely, if employees aren’t justly compensated for their hard work on closed deals, then they are more likely to look for employment elsewhere. No matter what compensation scheme you choose, you must find a way to put collaboration first by creating a system that rewards both the individual and team contributions. Whether you choose to create unexpected spot bonuses or simplify the commission structure so that animosity doesn’t prevail, you must remember that collaboration requires everyone to feel equally rewarded for their hard work.
Hire Collaborators And Avoid Selfish Sellers
This might seem like a slightly obvious statement, but it must be made nonetheless. When you are hiring sales associates, pay attention to the individuals who speak in terms of team achievements. For example, “we achieved x, y, and z,” or “we met our quotas throughout the year.” The use of the “we” indicates that the individual has a team-first mentality. Collaboration can only work when each team member is interested in putting the best interests of the team first, rather than sacrificing long term goals for short term pithy gains.
Focus Competition On External “Enemies.”
While there are ways to create an environment of “healthy competition,” it is far too easy for a friendly competition between sales teams to become the “eat or be eaten” days of old. Instead, try to focus your competitions on beating your direct business competitors. To do this, you can create awards that emphasize team achievements. In the words of Michael Jordan, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” Embrace this mentality if you want your team to work together to increase sales and achieve industry greatness.
When great minds come together, ideas can be explored, sales associates can rise to the occasion, and the entire team can benefit. Creating a collaborative environment starts with the people you hire, the managing practices that you use, and the company culture that you create. Through the above five tips you can increase sales by encouraging collaboration amongst your sales team.