When you first start out with your team selling efforts there is a lot of excitement around the idea. Without nurturing and consistently selling the idea, it can become old very quickly. A team selling approach requires a number of changes from everyone on the team. For example, without feedback, many of your best team members will get tired of gathering information without seeing any results. Your sales team leaders can get tired of reading the larger volume of information that team selling generates and revert to the lone wolf approach that has served them in the past. You must be committed to make team selling work in your organization. With the increasing complexity in the business environment the successful sales professional needs to be part of a selling team.
So what tools can you use to help motivate and inspire your high performing sales team? These tools will work for you as the executive in charge or for the sales team leader. Using these three tools will make you a stronger leader in everything you do.
The first tool is leadership. If you provide leadership to your team, they will respond better to the new sales efforts. If you choose not to lead, your team will fail. It’s just that simple. If you’re leading a cross functional team, you must be able to see the different individuals’ points of view. Finance people have different objectives than customer service; customer service has different needs than sales. Your job is to understand the different stakeholders’ needs and meld them into a client development strategy.
You must make sure everyone knows and agrees to what’s expected of them. This should be shared with team members on a regular basis. As these things change, your team needs to be kept in the loop. I recommend having regular meetings with the team. The size of the team and the importance of the client help determine how many of these meetings you should have. I’ve done these meetings successfully both in person and online and think there is a time and place for each. You have to decide what works best in your team and the environment.
The second tool is to make working on your sales team fun and rewarding. I can’t tell you how challenged people are to do more with less today. You must work to make things fun. People go further for people they enjoy working with and feel that they are not taken for granted. If you’re not sure how to do this, ask them. I’ve found asking my team members what works for them helps me remain focused on their individual needs.
As team leader you must become a master motivator of your team. I create individual profiles on each of my team members so that when I see things that might motivate them I put them in a drawer to give them next time we get together. You’d be surprised how much better people perform when you do this. I give books, articles, and personal items that they might enjoy. I also take these people to lunch on a regular basis to make sure I’m hearing what’s happening to them both personally and professionally. This practice has made me hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales over the years.
Little gifts go a long way in building morale. Keep a drawer full of birthday and anniversary cards for your team members. Also keep several gift cards available to recognize people who go that extra mile. How would you feel if someone gave you a surprise bonus for doing something exceptionally well? I had a former boss who used to take me to a surprise lunch when I closed a deal and it made me work that much harder to close my next deal. For the cost of a lunch he kept me focused and enthusiastic. While we’re talking about surprises, if you have a team meeting during lunch, pick up the tab for the team. Nothing builds team spirit like food.
The third and final tool is to give credit to the team and individuals in public and share your criticism in private. I’ve seen many teams destroyed by public criticism. It can be hard enough to work on a team to start with and being critical of one another is the fastest way to destroy your team. I have a simple rule that states people are doing the best they can in the moment. I find this allows me to pursue a more positive direction from the start of the conversation. You should work hard to keep your cool no matter what’s happening around you. Many times I can get the results I need by providing coaching in real time to my team members. I tell people that’s why we have hold and mute buttons on our phone.
I go out of my way to praise people for their good work in public. I want people to know how much I appreciate their efforts. People today are starving for positive attention; if you get in the practice of praising publicly you will have no problem finding people who want to work for you. Look for opportunities to celebrate team members wins throughout the sales performance. It won’t diminish the end results but it will keep people enthusiastic and working hard.
Finally understand that your team is always growing and changing. This is why we focus on the longer term growth of the team. Make sure you’re developing your team members and using coaching as a development tool. When people outgrow their current role you must promote them. And always be watching for your next great team member.
Team selling can be an exciting and rewarding way to spur high growth sales in your organization. The key to success is to plan ahead for team selling. Know what you’re trying to accomplish and lay out a path to get there. You can always fine tune and make adjustments along the way, but a road map starts everyone out in the right direction.