Corporate America talks a lot about the power of teamwork. Companies hang posters on the wall featuring people rowing in unison and the word “SUCCESS.” Leaders use phrases like, “There is no ‘I’ in ‘team.’”
Building strong teams is a well-intentioned goal. But in many sales organizations, it is simply rhetoric posted on the walls that never hits the halls.
Too many sales organizations are comprised of salespeople competing fiercely with each other — and not in a healthy, productive way. Reps forget the competition is outside the building, not inside. Unnecessary internal competition creates culture of “I’m hitting quota” rather than “We’re hitting quota.”
There are three main causes of this misplaced competitiveness.
1) An ill-defined or non-existent sales structure
Sales organizations often lack defined sales assignments. The sales department looks like a scene out of the Wild West. Each salesperson mounts their horse to go out and claim as many prospects as they can. They have no intention of actually calling on prospects more than once; they just want them identified in the CRM tool as “theirs.”
The best sales organizations carve out sales territories for each salesperson. These territories are defined by geography, industry, or sales potential. With this clarity, salespeople quit competing with their team members. They are comfortable sharing how they are landing new business because they aren’t worried about someone taking their opportunities.
2) A bad hiring process
The second reason for a lack of teamwork: The sales manager hires salespeople who don’t play well with others. Many sales managers still buy into the myth that top salespeople are self-centered, high-maintenance, and lone rangers.
It’s time to eliminate that unproductive myth. I work with top producers every day. And you know what? They are nice people. Do they want to win? Absolutely! Do they share how they are winning? Absolutely! The best salespeople are emotionally intelligent, self-aware, and generous. They are confident in their skills, and recognize that they can share every best practice they know success is dependent on execution. Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied.
These top producers also see the big picture. It’s great if they are achieving quota. But without everyone on the team performing, the company won’t do well. One or two top producers can’t scale a business. It takes a sales village to win and retain business.
Top sales producers understand that money can buy happiness. A profitable company invests in more resources, such as marketing, customer service, and new products. Such investments help salespeople attract and retain more clients.
3) Lack of trust
Sales organizations lose millions of dollars in revenue because their sales teams don’t cross-sell. The executive team holds a meeting and shares the importance of bringing the other divisions into the salesperson account base. Salespeople shake their head “yes,” but in the back of their mind, they are saying, “No way. I’m not bringing someone into my account. They will screw up my relationship.”
This lack of trust isn’t because they don’t like their fellow salespeople. It’s because they lack emotional intelligence.
First, they have poor interpersonal skills. Trust is built over time, but many salespeople don’t invest in building relationships with their team members. They talk about teamwork, but they don’t follow through. And since they don’t have strong relationships, they don’t trust others enough to bring them into important accounts. As a result, they lose commission — and the company loses potential revenue.
Second, reps lack the assertiveness to state what they need from their team members. They need to have frank conversations about cover how they would like their team members to handle the first meeting, second meeting, and ongoing relationship with the client.
Sales managers: Establish one more key performance metric for your sales team. Make it a requirement to meet with and develop a relationship with employees in other divisions.
Get your sales team working on the “We’re hitting quota” mentality by helping each other and building relationships. Remember, the competition is outside the building, not inside.