By Jeff Beals
Generally speaking, we learn better and develop better ideas when we work in groups. Human beings are social creatures. Our ability to team up has allowed our species to build amazing structures and advance once-unimaginable technologies.
When two or more people put their heads together and tackle challenging problems, we often end up with amazing innovations. Teams beat individuals.
But those of us who have chosen a career in sales tend to be individualists. Some of us are even considered “lone wolves.”
Now, there are benefits to behaving like an individual when you work in sales. Our profession requires quick thinking and the ability to confidently make decisions when you’re out on the road far away from the office. Salespeople typically live on commission, which requires you to have tolerance for risk and a great deal of self-confidence.
The key is to combine the individualism that is necessary for success in sales with the human desire to be part of an advanced social organization.
If you roll your eyes anytime someone talks about your sales organization working as a team, take a look at these examples of when teaming up produces positive results for sales professionals:
1. Message Development
Prospecting is much more difficult than it was 10 or 20 years ago especially when you’re approaching new, cold prospects. In such an environment, business acumen is critically important.
That means we have cutting-edge messages that engage and challenge prospects in ways that are meaningful for them. In other words, you can no longer call a prospect and say, “I’d like to stop by your office and pick your brain.” Instead, you need a compelling message that stands out in the sea of communication sameness.
Developing these messages is a great teamwork opportunity. When a company invites me to their office to conduct a prospecting workshop, I challenge the sales reps to develop a series of compelling email, social, telephone and voicemail messages they can use to engage cold prospects. If we have time, we do this as part of the workshop; if we don’t, I assign it as a homework project.
Here’s how it works: Each member of the sales team develops a certain number of effective prospecting messages and then we share all the messages with the group. All the sales reps can share in the creative bounty and start using the best messages right away
2. Professional Development
Albert Einstein said, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.”
Indeed it is critical that sales professionals constantly learn. Some of that learning can be individual – reading, watching webinars, personal research – but we tend to learn more and retain more of that knowledge when we learn together.
That’s why it’s useful to do in-house sales training, watch sales training videos as a team or go to conferences as a group. Once a group of sales professionals is exposed to some form of education, it’s a good idea to talk about it together after the training takes place and try out some of the ideas as a team.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about on-boarding quite a bit. It came up as a conversation within the past two weeks in both of the mastermind groups I lead. Many sales leaders struggle finding the best ways to bring new sales reps up to speed and quickly maximize their talents.
Well, you can use the collective power of the current sales team to shrink the learning curve for new sales professionals. Have each experienced member of your team sit down and think of all the most common objections they receive during meetings with prospects. Then have each of them write down how they overcome those objections.
Similarly, have them list all the issues that pop up during price-and-terms negotiations and how they successfully handle those.
You can do this with other parts of the selling process as well. The collective knowledge and experience of the group is a great teacher and prevents you from trying to reinvent the wheel every time a new person joins your team.
Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide. He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.