Why individuals no longer rule on sales teams

Miriam Reichmuth

Sales people have traditionally been a separate breed in most companies. Organizations have contributed to this separation by developing and managing their sales staff differently from the rest: too much focus on individual performance, with dedicated learning and development teams, recruiting specialists, compensation plans and management and IT systems.

However, there has been a shift in the relationship between individual success and enterprise profitability. As highlighted by the Harvard Business Review, from 2002 to 2012, impact of individuals’ performance on unit profitability decreased from 78% to 51%. On the other hand, the impact of employees’ collaborative performance—how much people give to and take from their coworkers — increased from 22% to 49%. Even in sales, collaborative performance now accounts for about 44% of the impact. On the most effective sales teams, the individual no longer reigns supreme.

Can we change the traditional position to ensure sellers don’t merely execute their sales objectives, but they also collaborate with their colleagues to marshal resources, push for involvement and share capabilities?

Make your best performers work hard as trainers, without them even noticing.

A yearly study conducted by the Miller Heiman Research Institute comparing identified high-performing sales organizations versus average sales organizations reports that 89% of top performing sales organizations leverage the best practices of their top performers to improve everyone elses. Only 21% of average performing sales organizations do this.

Now, we know that sales people do not share their expertise easily. It is not for lack of will, but mainly because the environment they work in does not help the exchange of know how. Most sales performers would be more than happy to help by giving knowledge, if they only had the opportunity and means.

Fortunately, a new approach to this problem is evolving. Businesses are realizing the power of enabled knowledge sharing rather than forcing. AI and self-learning algorithms are opening the way to finding tacit knowledge and expertise of employees across an organization to create a corporate memory that focuses on know how rather than simple static information.

If top sales performers can easily share their know how with their colleagues, they will happily do so. So just give them the opportunity.

Turn the rest of your organization into a key sales team member.

A sales person can run the gamut on tips and tricks to become a better rep. He can focus on training, test months and months of process methods, practice demo run-throughs, read every sales book in the world — but when facing a question posed by a prospect in front of him, he is still limited by the knowledge and experiences residing in his own brain. The rest of the organizational know how is stored and hidden away in the brains of your product developers, roll-out and readiness teams and support groups. The sales person might even have to “come back later” with an answer to the customer. Not exactly the right premise for a successful close.

Now, according to the TAS Group, wherever sales is aligned to the rest of the organization, sales wins increase by 15% and company revenue can grow by up to 25%.

And the key to alignment goes through providing sales people immediate access to the critical know-how their colleagues in the organization already possess. Right at the precise moment when it is needed.

Again, AI comes to the rescue. By analyzing interactions within an organization, AI is nowadays able to immediately identify the right expert for any topic and connect questions with actual solutions in real time. Salespeople can now face prospects and customers fully prepared as they are backed up by the collective know how of the entire organization. No question will be unanswered, no deal will be left on the table. 

Is Your Sales Organization Collaborative?

The trends are clear: collaborative sales teams perform better. So how would you classify your sales organization? Are you highly-collaborative, or do you still have room to improve?

If you’re ready to improve sales team and cross-departmental collaboration for better business results, see how we can help you today. Request a live demo

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