Building an Effective Battle Rhythm Part 3: Fostering an Environment of Collaboration
This week in our continuing series on building an effective battle rhythm for your sales team we are talking about the second priority when developing your calendar of events; Fostering an environment of collaboration that encourages individuals to share ideas and experience.
Personally, I believe that a sales culture focused on collaboration, with some healthy competition and fun thrown in is key to the long term success of the team. I want my sales team to have zero hesitation when it comes to sharing information, techniques and advice when a team mate asks for help. Now I will be the first to agree that it takes more than an awesome battle rhythm to develop a successful sales culture. It takes executive support, focused HR practices, the right leaderships and the right team structure. But the battle rhythm for your team and more importantly what you do at those events plays a key role in shaping your team's culture. Those events are your chance to model the culture you want for your team.
Here are three additions you can make to your sales meetings that provide opportunities to collaborate.
1. Peer Deal Reviews
A peer deal review is the opportunity for the sales team to collaborate regarding a sales opportunity that is currently in the pipeline. Ideally you want to profile an opportunity that is in the mid stages so that there is still potential risk to discuss and present recommendations to offset. The sales person with the opportunity will spend no more than 15 minutes to share with the team the profile of the client, information about the specific sales opportunity, strategy to win the business, current stage in the sales process, client personalities, decision plan and the current action plan.
This is followed by a short period for the team to ask questions to clarify what was presented and to fill any information gaps and then an opportunity to discuss potential risks and how to mitigate those risks. I always end these meetings with an update on the the last peer review where the sales person can report on action taken based on the recommendations received. This provides some accountability for the group.
You don't want to use this every week. Twice a month is a good frequency that allows regular discussion but doesn't add excessive prep time to your team's already busy schedule.
2. Shark Tank It.
This option adds a little fun and competition into your weekly sales meeting. The goal for this activity is that your team members work as a team to come up with an effective sales strategy for closing a client. The client can be real or imaginary, but be sure to provide enough back story that your team can come up with specific ideas. Spit your team into two or three teams and give them client situation that they need to come up with their most creative strategy for getting the sale closed. Give each team 10 minutes to come up with their best idea and then another 5 minutes to pitch their strategy.
3. Round Table Discussion
For this meeting addition, the focus is on how to improve the team as a whole. At the end of the discussion your team should have developed a recommendation on how to apply a industry best practice to your standard practices. This helps them foster an feeling of ownership of their team rather than just being a number.
No less than 48 hours prior to the meeting, choose a sales and marketing related article that discusses a potential change that can be made to how your team does business and send it to your team. Everyone needs to read the article prior to the meeting and be prepared to discuss it. The article topic can be pretty much any thing that has the potential of helping them sell more. If it has more of a marketing spin to it, ie lead scoring or lead nurturing, invite a marketing rep to attend the meeting and join in the discussion. At the meeting, discuss the pros and cons of the topic, implementation, how results would be tracked and what success looks like.
If the team wants to beta test the change, and you agree that it is a good addition, it is key that you actually follow up, test the change and provide feedback to your team. If your team sees that they are making recommendations and nothing is ever done with them, they will start to feel that their input is not actually wanted and that the exercise is just going through the motions. On the other hand, if they see that their recommendations are actually moving forward and being evaluated, with the effective changes being made on a larger basis, they will feel much more appreciated and that they are an integral part of the team.
When facilitating these events, you need to ensure you establish ground rules for participation to keep people from becoming defensive and retreating from the discussion. The goal of these exercises is to build trust and provide an environment where the team can effectively communicate and help improve processes that directly impact their success.
Team collaboration is an intangible that can make a big difference in sales team performance. As the leader, you need to ensure collaboration becomes a core value for your team by providing regular opportunities for team collaboration and rewarding your members when collaboration leads to positive results. You’ll see improvements not just in culture and morale, but also in performance.