Tips for Increasing Sales Team Productivity and Collaboration
April 25, 2019
A career in sales has long been viewed as an individualistic endeavor. Flip on any classic sales movie and you’re bound to find a tale of one man or woman overcoming the odds through sheer will and determination. Throughout much of history, it’s been an accurate portrayal. Success was defined by your hustle, your personal rolodex, and your ability to close with a warm smile and firm handshake.
But in the modern B2B marketplace, selling is a team sport. The urge to “go it alone” is now counterproductive, as buying committees grow more expansive and strategies become more integrated. Once you’ve installed the right parts on your sales team, it’s imperative to make your whole greater than the sum of those parts.
Data collected by Salesforce helps illustrate the importance of sales team collaboration:
- 60% of sales professionals say that collaborative selling has increased productivity by more than 25%, and more than half (52%) say it has done the same for increasing pipeline.
- Across all performance levels, 62% of sales teams say collaborative selling is absolutely critical or very important to their overall sales process.
And it’s not just internal collaboration on the sales team we should be emphasizing. Salesforce also notes that “73% of sales teams say collaborating across departments is absolutely critical or very important to their overall sales process.”
So, how to enable and encourage teamwork for professionals that are traditionally accustomed to flying solo? In doing so, we can lift sales productivity to new heights.
Maximizing Sales Productivity: The Key Lies in Team Collaboration
Sales leaders and managers can set the tone for a collaborative sales team by implementing the right tools, training, and culture.
One of the most vital steps toward fostering teamwork is focusing on the collective effort required to keep the pipeline churning, rather than singling out individuals. One simple step is to transition toward team-based incentives, as opposed to traditional commission structures. And beyond compensation, it’s helpful when sales leaders recognize everyone who is involved with a deal.
For example, “Roger did a great job closing this sale, but he could never have done it without Jill connecting him to a key player on the buying committee.” They might feel small at the time, but minor assists like these can pay major dividends. Having an executive or manager openly call it out provides positive reinforcement.
“We have created an atmosphere within our sales division where the team is more than happy to disclose the step-by-step process they took to secure a deal,” said Jason Woodland, U.S. sales director for Woodland Group, in a Forbes article. “This culture took time to implement and is carefully managed to avoid a negative impact, but it has proved to be extremely successful.”
Tapping into TeamLink
Many functions within Sales Navigator are designed for team collaboration. For example, TeamLink is a feature that makes it easy for your reps to see the benefits of working together. Through this tool, you can tap into your entire team’s full network on LinkedIn to find the best path to an introduction.
A rep might learn that she has no mutual connections with a lead she’d like to pursue, before finding that another seller in her organization is connected. This creates an opportunity to engage with relevance and recognition.
In addition to this staple, Sales Navigator continues to add new features conducive to team selling, such as the ability to share custom lists.
Centralizing Data and Resources
One major impediment for collaboration is siloed information. When each rep is working from their own playbook, it’s tough to get them all on the same page. Because of this, it’s advisable to create a “single source of truth” whenever possible.
This can be accomplished from a digital standpoint, by gathering all pipeline data in a real-time interface accessible to all (such as Sales Navigator Deals), and from a physical standpoint, by routinely gathering the team for updates and knowledge-sharing.
“We regularly have sessions to compare and contrast best practices,” Keith Gruebele of Bankers Healthcare Group told Forbes. “Everything is on the table from tech tools to email templates, call scripts, etc. Our sales environment is highly competitive, but we constantly remind everyone if the team wins, we all win.”
Building Bridges Beyond Sales
Today, effective collaboration needs to extend outside the sales team and across functions. Customers expect cohesive and holistic experiences with brands. This requires orchestration with marketing, of course, but also with other touch points such as service.
“It doesn’t matter if your customer is engaging with your brand through a website, social media, mobile, or in-person — they just want familiarity and recognition in each interaction,” writes Tiffani Bova of Salesforce. “In connecting all of the data from each team to form a shared, single view of the customer, each line of business can deliver connected experiences that speed the sales cycle.”
Aligning with these departments ultimately helps sales close more deals, while also building a strong infrastructure for account growth via cross-sells and upsells.
There’s No “I” in Sales
The days of salespeople going it alone are fading. Modern selling is about establishing a united front, on the sales team and beyond, to optimize your organization’s capabilities. If you haven’t been committed to embedding a collaborative culture — through sharing success, equipping the right tools, centralizing information, and connecting various business units — then today is a good time to start.
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