Salespeople are hired for their competitive drive and desire to win. They are paid on performance where the numbers and results are highly visible. So how in the world can a sales manager expect this type of person to cooperate and be a contributing member of his/her sales team? Isn’t it asking a driven salesperson to be something they are not? No, it’s not. The most productive teams and sales teams cooperate and work together for the common cause: beat the external competitor and become the 800 pound gorilla in their industry. It makes sense. Why do you want your sales team focused on beating one another when the attention should be focused on the competitor? Here are four ways to make sure your sales team is cooperating and competing.
#1: Hire team players.
Look for evidence on the resume and during the interview that the salesperson has actually contributed to someone else’s success. One of my favorite questions to ask is, “Tell me about a time when you helped a fellow salesperson and didn’t get any credit or recognition.” Past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior. I look for salespeople that are not always tuned into the WIFM channel.
#2: Design the right incentive plan.
A good sales compensation plan is designed so each salesperson is rewarded for hitting their specific sales goal, not just for being the number one person on the roster. When I was a Vice President of Sales, we had salespeople go on our incentive trips that did not write the top volume of business that year. What they did do was hit their specific sales goal, their stretch goal and specific product goals. Don’t just reward the top 10% of your team. If you do, you will demotivate the new kid on the block who has done a great job, however, hasn’t been on the job for two to three years to build the desired book of business.
#3: Make sharing best practices part of your sales meeting.
Let your team know that lone rangers are not welcome on your sales team. One good salesperson can’t bring in enough revenue to fund expansion, marketing and opportunities for the entire company. Work to move your sales culture from, “I’m really good” to “We are really good.” It pretty common sense. Think about a great athletic team. They might have the best forward or quarterback in the league, however, they will not bring home the title unless all members of the team are operating at their highest level.
#4: Follow the suggestion found in the book, The Orange Revolution, authored by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton.
Their research shows that top teams proactively cheer for one another. Make cheering one of your sales organizations KPI’s. How many pats on the back, calls of congratulations or written notes did your sales team write to one another or other departments in your company last month? The last time we checked, no one complains about being over appreciated!
Colleen Stanley Chief Selling Officer