Sales professionals have traditionally worked as ‘freelance agents’, competing against others inside the business and rarely expecting or giving much thought to teamwork or collaboration.
Until recent times it was exactly the same in Olympic sports such as swimming, where athletes and coaches viewed others as ‘the enemy’. But not anymore because the coaches made a breakthrough discovery: “You can achieve so much more through high performance teamwork than by working in isolation”
No doubt the athletes still compete fiercely against each other, and nothing can be more cut-throat than swimming selection trials, but the benefits of a ‘one team’ approach far outweigh the worries about giving others an advantage.
Not surprisingly, it is the competitive and unpredictable market faced by just about every sales team that is driving the stampede towards a more strategic ‘one team’ approach.
However, that is quite a change for many people! Let’s look at an example.
Hunt, kill and cook your ownAt a recent real estate Sales team workshop we asked Kerry, a long-standing sales agent if she could describe the culture amongst the team of approximately 20 sales professionals. The reply was immediate and to the point, ‘Hunt, kill and cook your own!’.
Everyone laughed and then proceeded to list the behaviours that not only characterised the sales team but were reinforced in the practices of everyone in the business.
That list included:
- Mind your own business
- Solve your own problems
- Be multi-skilled
- Protect your turf
- Live off the land
The list is similar to those we’ve seen across many industries however in tough conditions when sales targets require Olympic-level performance, the need to think differently is compelling.
One team sellingOne team selling is a whole-of-business approach that is best illustrated through the five practices model that underpins the well-known Australian development system, Think One Team™.
Share the Big PictureThe think one team™ system begins by engaging everyone in defining what ‘team success’ means for the whole business. This essential first step guides people to align their own agendas with a bigger vision that is clear, commercially realistic and emotionally compelling. People will sacrifice things to do what’s best for the whole business if they feel an investment in the vision.
Share the RealityWhen sales professionals challenge and support each other the results can be amazingly different to the stand-offs and turf fights that suck energy from everyone. The fastest way to this culture is open two-way and respectfully delivered feedback (beginning with the Management team and then rolled out across the business).
Share the AirInstilling a one team system enables clear partnering expectations between the sales team and the rest of the business. Open lines of communication also mean that market intelligence is shared, and innovation and shared creativity gives the team an edge over competitors who still hunt, kill and cook their own.
Share the LoadA team approach to key markets, products and accounts is so much more strategic than the disjointed approach that characterizes the individualist culture. Another game-changer for many businesses is to replace or supplement their traditional performance reviews with a performance partnering system between sales managers and their teams to improve coaching and collaborative problem solving.
Share the Wins and LossesGreat teams are relentless in their forensic debriefing of performance, whereas mediocre teams just look at the scoreboard and wonder what happened. A sure sign of one team selling is when whole teams or sub-groups get together to share learnings and plan how to adapt and win.
Sustainable high performanceNot everyone is comfortable with one team selling because it challenges their needs for independence, status and control. It also demands new skill sets amongst all staff, not the least of which is to be willing to trust and help others. The fast moving businesses are definitely headed in the one team direction because collaboration and teamwork is the most powerful strategy in a competitive and ever-changing workplace. Is your business ready to think one team?
Graham Winter is the author of Australian best seller Think One Team and the new release First Be Nimble. He is a three-time chief psychologist for the Australian Olympic Team. He works with business teams across Australia to boost their performance. Graham can be contacted at Think One Team International or email firstname.lastname@example.org