Creating a Collaborative Sales Culture
It’s a sad fact. But way too many B2B sales teams ignore the collective power of collaboration to maximize sales productivity.
The concept of fostering an environment of collaboration is often completely missing from goal-centric sales teams. There seems to be a disconnect from the moment a prospect enters their ecosystem. Competitive dashboards and performance bonuses become a priority, contributing to an underlying divide as to what’s happening with the rest of the organization.
Sales leaders cannot devalue the power of competition, of course. However, they should highlight the influence of pooling every skilled resource within your team to acquire and retain targets. A shift to this type of sales culture is required in today’s complex selling climate where buyers are in charge, can choose among so many options, and have clear expectations in regard to interacting with sellers.
If you’re not taking advantage of these four opportunities to maximize collaboration between you and your team, you will miss out on the chance to improve performance.
1. Make Feedback More Impactful
Great leaders give immediate, effective feedback. Most new sales managers find giving feedback easy when it directly relates to selling. Here is an example:
“Roberta, I noticed you tend to jump right into the demo without any warmup. You should try to build a little rapport first….”
But these same managers will often withhold broader feedback to avoid confrontation. For instance, they may be thinking:
“I can’t believe Roberta keeps typing on her phone during our sales huddles. How disrespectful!”
Genuinely great sales leaders have a habit of coaching immediately on all aspects of their team members’ performance. And they’ve made a habit of giving three-part feedback. First, they note the specific behavior. Second, they explain the impact. Third, they get an agreement to change.
“Hey Roberta, in this morning’s team town meeting, you were sitting in the front row and looking down, typing on your phone. Even if you were taking notes and sending them to others, it probably looked like you weren’t paying attention and viewed as disrespectful to other team members. Do you see how your behavior could be viewed? Do you agree you should give others your undivided attention in meetings?”
Coach for More Meaningful One-on-Ones
Great sales leaders make it a point to conduct weekly one-on-one meetings (O3s) with their reps. Many sales managers believe these routine sales meetings, in addition to their daily huddles, are good enough. All the while, they are guided by constant focus on staying up to date with metrics and the status of the sales funnel.
But there is more that can be accomplished to improve the effectiveness of coaching. Genuinely great sales leaders use O3 meetings to connect and deepen their relationship with each salesperson on their team. An O3 meeting is considered their meeting, not your meeting. It’s a chance to get caught up on anything going on in the salesperson’s personal life that they’d like to share, an opportunity for them to ask you questions or give new ideas. And it’s the ideal time to exchange feedback pertinent to prior discussions.
It may appear to be easier to manage by metrics (e.g., “How come you only did 15 demos this week?”) than to lead by addressing the whole person. But truly great sales leaders think of themselves not solely as a manager but as an advisor, mentor, and helpmate—an all-around coach whose aim is to develop each salesperson to their full potential.
Great sales leaders use the GROW coaching model, which identifies the four stages of success: Goal, Reality, Options, Will; or a similar approach. Whatever model you use, it should provide consistent, structured, whole-person development.
Help team members set appropriate Goals. Get clear on the Reality of the present situation (i.e., how big is the gap between a goal and what’s happening now). Explore all Options for progressing toward the goal. And finally, assist the salesperson in developing a plan for the action they Will do as the way forward.
3. Demonstrate You Care
Keeping your sales team motivated is a constant challenge. Meeting that challenge becomes easier, and is more natural, when sales leaders appropriately care for their sales reps as individuals and show it. This should be embedded in your mindset as it is one of the three key drivers of trust (competency and integrity are the other two). Nothing happens without trust. Once you’ve earned it, you may still make mistakes and get other stuff wrong, however, your team will more readily forgive and stick with you.
Average sales managers are metrics-focused and often look past the salesperson and communicate only about the tasks at hand. Great sales leaders know numbers matter, but your people drive your numbers. Simple changes along these lines can make a big difference. For instance, try greeting your team members each morning. Address each of them by name and take the time to learn their family members’ names. Learn and be interested in their story. Use one-on-one meetings to ask about life outside of work, inquiring about hobbies or interests.
4. Leverage Individual Strengths
According to Gallup research, when leaders focus on and invest in their employees’ unique strengths, employee productivity increases nearly eight times, and teams with daily strength focus have 12.5% greater productivity. Great sales leaders conduct strengths assessments such as CliftonStrengths with their team members and continuously leverage the information they collect to improve the individual’s performance.
For example, using the Standout Assessment model, if the results show that a salesperson’s most significant role is “Teacher,” the sales leader should encourage them to use a more consultative approach with their prospects. It may also be helpful to conduct internal product training to activate the salesperson’s strength. If another salesperson’s top role is matched to “Provider,” their manager should leverage those strengths related to empathy and inclusiveness to bring top prospects together with their best current customers. It may also be a good idea to designate that salesperson to be the onboarding buddy for new hires.
By initiating high-impact feedback, conducting more meaningful one-on-ones, and leveraging individual strengths, sales leaders can begin to develop a collaborative relationship with their sales teams and see results in terms of improved performance.
The many B2B sales organizations that have partnered with MarketSource appreciate the results, whether it’s increased revenues, higher retention rates, greater productivity, and more. Now it’s your turn! Let’s talk >>