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Rule 7: Make It a Team Effort

Overview

Consider the following comments from sales professionals: "My biggest frustration is that, due to our internal processes, I spend longer negotiating with different departments within the company to get things done than with customers to get more sales."

"Over the last couple of years with this company, my biggest challenge has been to find my place and role within a new sales team and to get accepted by other members of the team as a valuable player and by customers as a valuable ally."

It takes teamwork to deliver high-value, innovative solutions. Whether that involves team selling or the team behind the scenes, to deliver on time and on target requires more than just the effort of the salesperson. The salesperson can't and shouldn't do it all.

A team shares a common goal or purpose and must work together to achieve it. Having a team is the starting point. To be an effective leader, you need to be supported by a high-performing team.

  • A high-performing team communicates effectively.

  • A high-performing team reaches better decisions.

  • A high-performing team exceeds expectations.

In what ways do you need the support of a team to deliver reliable services for your customers? Are there times when establishing a high-performance team is a challenge for you?

The Wall Street Journal reported that one of the most successful pharmaceutical companies had taken "aggressive" steps to upgrade its sales force. Collaboration, the ability to work effectively with others, was one of the key attributes of its best salespeople and one that it looks for in new hires. Your ability to work effectively as a team member and to lead that team when needed will play a large part in determining how successful you will be. There are limited opportunities today where a salesperson can operate as a "lone ranger." People skills, not only sales or technical skills, help top producers get things done.

Your team may consist of you and a technical support person, such as a sales engineer. It may consist of you and the people responsible for product development. It may consist of you and the people who are responsible for implementation or service. While you may not work closely with all of these people all of the time, any one of them can help you make this sale and the next one.

Unfortunately, when you or the people who must support you in delivering correct solutions on time don't see themselves as working on your team, you are going to take a lot longer to do what you need to do and may not even be able to get it done. You need to overcome any tendencies among people or departments to work at cross purposes. Create a sense of commitment to a common goal or purpose that centers on your customer's requirements and satisfaction. Your ability to do this is highly dependent on your ability to communicate and to balance your own ego with the needs of the people on your team.

In communicating with your support team, especially when something has gone wrong, it is critical that you control your response and be careful not to say something you'll regret. Channel your response into preventing future problems. Be the model. Know that you are constantly on stage and being evaluated and emulated.

The four cornerstones of successful teams are four opportunities to develop that sense of commitment.


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