Whenever I am at a sales conference, I notice one prevailing theme. Salespeople love to interact with each other and share ideas. During breakout sessions, when we give salespeople an activity that involves sharing their experiences and asking for feedback from their peers, we observe so much engagement and enthusiasm… and often a reluctance to turn back to the instruction at the end of the activity. To build on that, most surveys that we receive post sales meetings show that the sellers want more opportunities to share with and learn from their peers.
On the other hand… when I work with sales leaders to understand how they run their organization and how they coach their teams, I see very little structure in place to facilitate peer-to-peer interaction. Of course, many teams get together regularly (in person or on the phone) to talk about their pipeline, but it’s usually a round-robin call where each individual is sharing information with their leader or the leader is sharing out information to the entire group. If a deal is going south, it’s usually the sales leader who jumps in the middle to help course correct, and this may be because many sales incentive structures don’t reward cross-team communication and, in fact, may inhibit it.
In an age where so many customers are more informed about their purchasing decisions, looking for value-added insights, and demanding innovative solutions, we see so many sellers who are overwhelmed just trying to keep up, and there simply aren’t enough resources to support them. So my question is this… do you need more resources? What if your team shared more ideas and collaborated together more effectively? What if the insights that one seller effectively used with a customer could be leveraged across an entire market? What if your sellers discussed ways to “unstick” deals, and you didn’t have to always jump in and save the day?
Take a look at how you run your team.
Do you really need that round-robin reporting? Is anyone learning from that call besides you? Could you instead pick a few active deals to discuss and engage your whole team to provide feedback and insight?
When two of your sellers are working on similar types of deals, could you engage them to collaborate with each other versus just with you? Could this free you up to do more coaching to drive performance with struggling sellers?
Has your team taken the time to discuss what trends they are seeing with their customers? Could several sellers take responsibility for developing creative responses to these trends and then share with the group?
How do your incentives inhibit cross-team collaboration? Can better teamwork lift everyone up?
Think about the “team” you lead today. Are your sellers functioning like a team? If not, it’s probably not because they don’t want to collaborate and share ideas. In fact, there’s probably some untapped magic just waiting for an opportunity to come out. You just need to transform the group of individuals reporting to you into a real working team.