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8 Innovative Ways to Encourage Sales Team Collaboration

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Encouraging sales team collaboration is something that many companies struggle with from time to time. After all, business development is a competitive space. The highly motivated individuals who work in sales are often innovative and resilient, yet solo operators.

Imagine, though, the positive influence of a more cohesive sales team. That extra nudge can close a heck of a lot more deals. Sales collaboration and communication can play a significant role in making that happen.

8 Ways to Drive Sales Team Collaboration

Instead of frustration at slow sales cycles, failure to make sales happen, poor quality handoffs, or even lost sales, work towards breaking down internal communication barriers. Here are some of the best ways you can encourage better sales team collaboration.

1. Crowdsource Solutions

Instead of having sales team members simply report their numbers, hold regular team meetings to address potential issues. By bringing matters to the fore, you’ll facilitate the crowdsourcing of information. 

Crowdsourcing can work even if you’re dealing with multiple teams covering several regions. Have sales teams submit issues to representatives and bring those together for joint meetings for further discussion.

Sales teams often transfer between territories. Because of this, you may be surprised at the information members in other sales regions can contribute to ongoing deals. Aside from crowdsourcing solutions, you can also use these sessions to combine experience gained and compile (or update) best practices.

2. Centralize Your Resources

For sales teams to work effectively, they often need access to as much information as possible. While they all can generally find such information, it does take time and effort. Instead of having sales teams waste too much effort, build secure, centralized resource databases for everyone to access.

Pool the data sources of your entire organization and provide each sales team member direct access to it from any location – in the office or afield. Knowledge is king, as they say, and those in the know often sign the best deals.

Be aware, though, that creating access to such data stores can pose significant cybersecurity risks. While sales team members may be psychology experts, they won’t always be the best equipped to deal with technology.

Make sure you provide them with the right tools to access the information correctly. That generally means securing devices for them. Other tools you can consider are Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), password management tools, and more.

3. Clearly Define Sales Territories

Although we want to encourage sales team collaboration, having too many involved in a deal can turn things South. To avoid friction between sales teams, make sure you also clearly define their sales territories.

Aside from helping mitigate friction, the distinction can also create greater accountability. Those assigned within specific regions will also be encouraged to go the extra mile and pull their weight – plus support others within the same area.

4. Provide Them With Proper Tools

Caption: Unified tools like Slack can provide a much-needed platform for better team collaboration. (Source: Slack)

Not everyone has the habit of gearing themselves up with the latest smartphone, tablet, or headset. Outdated applications or devices can lead to cybersecurity breaches, so avoid “tech problems” from hampering collaboration by ensuring everyone uses a similar level of technology.

Establish company-mandated communications platforms like Slack, Telegram, or even the categories of devices necessary. While it may sound a little overbearing, it’s better than having some team members unable to communicate effectively.

You’ll also need to make sure these devices remain secure, so deploy them with safeguards in-place. One example of this is a comprehensive Internet security application since it’s likely they’ll need to use email attachments and other files.

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5. Look Towards Cross-functional Collaboration

Getting sales teams to work together is only part of the equation. Ideally, this collaboration should extend beyond functional borders and spread to related divisions. However, the departments which are related may be reliant on the industry.

For example, in a publication house, sales teams should ideally work closely with editorial and design departments to ensure the feasibility of what they’re selling. Many times, sales in the publishing industry go beyond ads and extend into the creative zone. Feasibility is even more essential in niche categories like tech. 

6. Encourage Shared Recognition

Because of the overwhelming influence that “star performers” can have, the balance of power within sales teams can sometimes be unbalanced. This phenomenon is natural but can quickly lead to the high turnover of junior members of the group.

Yet no man is truly an island, and experienced sales stars know that the secret to success is tapping on every resource available – including colleagues. 

Team leaders who recognize the contribution of every individual involved in closing a deal can help build better cohesiveness. Even the most minor factors can influence a sale, and you shouldn’t overlook this—for example, a team member who spent their time trying to find someone’s email details.

An even better way of recognizing contribution is to establish a dual-incentive commission structure. Instead of handing over a huge commission to the guy who signs a deal, work out an additional group incentive for all contributing members of the team.

7. Provide the Right Training

Many times, companies overlook the necessity of offering comprehensive training. It isn’t always a case of simply leading the horse to water. Likewise, you should support effective sales team collaboration with the proper training.

Human beings can be stubborn and old habits die hard. To meet the needs of modern business methods, you’ll need to build new mindsets and overcome specific barriers. “We’ve always done it that way” is a poor excuse for not working effectively.

One way of helping in this area is to establish a growth program for sales team members. Relate communication with revenue growth, and they’ll quickly understand how essential pulling the cart in the same direction can be.

8. Establish Mentoring Programs

A mentorship program might be a way forward if you find that encouraging sharing isn’t working despite all efforts. Formal mentoring has long been a part of company culture and often works for various teams. However, be aware there is a risk in forcing such a program. 

While you can use a mentoring program to pass on professional skills, forced relationships don’t always impart the most vital elements in sales. These “soft skills” are the core inventory of many star sales professionals and seldom demonstrate adequately informal environments. Ideally, encourage, but don’t mandate these programs.

Why Sales Team Collaboration Matters

Collaborative work isn’t a new concept, but it’s often missing from sales teams for various reasons. Years ago, an assistant professor of psychology at Stanford established that “Working with others affords enormous social and personal benefits.”

Aside from higher engagement levels, it’s essential to realize there are many other potential benefits—for example, increased success rates along with heightened motivation and dedication. In the context of sales teams, that could be a game-changer.

Customers today are more well-equipped than ever in decision-making, and the competition is fierce. By failing to pull together as a team, companies risk falling behind, regardless of business model, quality of product, or anything else.

With the proper guidelines and policies in place, you can nudge your sales team gently but firmly into a new era of sales.

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Conclusion

Being at the helm of a ship can be a stressful experience. Whether you’re a team leader or company manager, you’ll need to realize that leading from the front is the way to go. While there are distinct ways to foster team collaboration, start from the beginning and show them how. 

Highlight the pride of achievement, dangle carrots in the right places, and engage with the team directly. An email announcement of policies is less impactful than personal engagement from the top.

Finally, the adoption of open-door policies can go a long way towards showing a good example. If they don’t see the boss showing a good example, why should they put in the “extra effort” in collaboration?

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