For some sales teams, sales might still be considered an individual pursuit. The sales hero was once seen as a lone wolf, working hard on their own and succeeding on their own individual merit. But that notion is outdated in today’s world. Sales has indeed become a team sport, and success is increasingly dependent on teamwork – so let’s take a closer look at what this means.
Why is Teamwork Crucial in the Sales Industry?
Sales can be a highly competitive and often individualistic field, no matter what industry you’re selling in. In many companies, each sales rep has their own targets to hit and they focus on that number. Teamwork might not be actively discouraged, but it’s typically not incentivized or encouraged either.
After all, sales used to seem like a zero-sum game – make the sale and get the commission yourself, or lose out entirely. It might seem as if there’s little time to help out a fellow sales rep when you could be using that time to pursue prospects or follow up with existing accounts.
But this is a limited and old-fashioned perspective on sales. This narrow approach worked pretty well when companies were smaller and thus cooperation with the rest of the sales team wasn’t required. Sales reps knew their line, knew their prospects, and could make successful sales without needing a team.
Sales Teams Today
These days, the sales world looks different in most industries. Product and service lines have expanded widely at mid-sized and larger companies, and companies themselves have grown exponentially and are thus more complex.
As a result, sales teams may be based in several divisions, and sales team members can get stuck in their silos. Therefore, it’s more important than ever that everyone is educated on and following the same sales strategy and sales process, and telling your company’s sales story in the same way.
As companies expand their geographical reach as well, it’s also more important than ever to share knowledge and strategies across regions. Letting one sales team member, or a whole team, struggle to make deals when another sales rep or leader could have a solution is damaging for the company as a whole.
What Teamwork in Sales Looks Like
Building a culture of teamwork on your sales team will look different for every organization. You don’t need to get rid of the spirit of competition and individual achievement at all – you just need to channel them in healthy ways.
This is especially true when it comes to accountability. We find the healthiest sales teams have some baked-in accountability within the team. Longer tenured members who are successful can provide mentorship, accountability and share best practices, even without leadership involvement. And by doing so, it creates a culture of team accountability, which can be a powerful dynamic for your sales team and company as a whole.
Helping your sales team members work together effectively (and rewarding them when they do) is how you start to build a pattern of teamwork.
Sales teams are more effective when they are sharing best practices and helping each other succeed.
This can mean sharing an innovative approach that’s working well on recent sales calls so the whole team can benefit. Or it could mean sharing key information at the right time. It can even mean sharing leads, where appropriate, if one sales rep doesn’t have the time or experience to pursue the deal.
Open, skillful communication is critical to your team working together smoothly. This is best accomplished by having regularly scheduled sales meetings (weekly or biweekly) and regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings with your team members.
Sales team members need their leaders to model open and honest communication by:
- encouraging asking questions or for help
- giving thorough feedback
- proactively communicating about issues before they become big problems
- surfacing wins
- focus on sales meetings that add value to everyone, and avoiding meetings that people dread
How to Build or Improve Teamwork in Sales
So what is a sales leader or sales manager to do if they want to build a culture of teamwork in their sales organization? There are no quick fixes here, as team / culture-building is a long-term investment.
But for our purposes today, here are four key things to work on:
1. Share a Common Vision and Goals
The most critical part of building a true team? Aligning every sales team member on a common vision for what you are trying to accomplish in your business. If the only vision your team shares is making their numbers for the quarter, that’s not very motivating.
Instead, focus on finding a larger vision for what your company is trying to accomplish and communicate it effectively to your sales team.
People want to know why they’re showing up at work every day, beyond just a paycheck. Give them purpose and they will have more drive to achieve their best every day.
2. Lead by Example
Just telling your sales team they need to cooperate and collaborate isn’t enough to get them to take action.
Instead of just presenting a Power Point on what to do, sales executives, leaders, and managers need to present through their actions of what good teamwork looks like. This can mean celebrating a group win, surfacing a positive example of collaboration in the next team meeting, or building relationships with another leader to show how it can be done. Showing, not telling, is what strong sales leadership should exemplify.
3. Reward Team Performance
If all of your team goals are based on individual sales, you’re building an environment that rewards competition more than collaboration.
Instead, focus on setting a few team goals as well that reward your sales reps for working together. Group achievement should be understood as a major part of individual success.
4. Enhance Strengths and Address Weaknesses
A team needs to work together as a collective – but that doesn’t mean you need it to be composed only of similar people.
Each member of your team will have different strengths, which is perfect because it balances out your team and makes it well-rounded. Look for ways to use the strengths of each sales team member to benefit the team as a whole. Encourage your reps (or assign them) to share their strengths with their fellow reps.
Each sales rep will also have their own weaknesses – but these can be addressed by investing in solid sales training. Ensuring weaknesses are addressed and adjusted on your team will strengthen the whole group.
Build a Strong Sales Team
Looking for ways to build a successful sales team culture, but not sure where to start or what to do? Helping leaders like you grow your company and smash your sales targets is our mission and our passion. We’ll take the 360 Approach to your sales culture, practices, and structure and tell you exactly what you need to do to meet or exceed goals.
Schedule your FREE consultation by filling out our contact form or giving us a call at 817-809-3960.