Published October 10, 2021 Online collaboration: How sellers become rainmakers

Online collaboration: How sellers become rainmakers

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When we think of salespeople, it’s easy to get caught up in the mythology of the rainmaker: The individual seller who’s constantly closing deals based on a combination of charisma, doggedness, and a modicum of dumb luck.

But just as a successful basketball team relies on players with diverse skills executing in concert, so too a sales team can only excel when it works effectively together. The need for teamwork and online collaboration has become even more critical, given the pandemic-induced advent of the virtual sales team.

In an era when most sales teams are working remotely, helping them succeed depends on fostering collaboration.

The power of teamwork, online collaboration

There are multiple reasons why a smoothly functioning sales team is more effective than a loose grouping of talented individual sellers. For example, one seller may have insight into the very person or company that another is seeking to cultivate. Or perhaps they have encountered, and figured out how to overcome, a comparable set of customer objections.

These are learnings that could only come from a colleague who has been in a similar situation. But if they’re not collaborating effectively, the value of such insights is lost.

Before COVID, sales reps could share knowledge and exchange insight at the office. But today, this teamwork must come in the form of online collaboration.

Another consideration is that salespeople, like people in any other profession, want to share in the success of their colleagues – and to have colleagues celebrate their own. The same way that baseball players come out of the dugout to congratulate a teammate who hits a home run, sellers like to feel appreciated by their colleagues.

Even without the pandemic, the nature of selling is that it’s often very much an individual pursuit. The more that salespeople can feel like they are part of an actual team, one that shares in individuals’ success while helping them overcome challenges, the happier and more motivated the salespeople are likely to be.

Collaboration platforms streamline sales

Finding ways to keep sales teams fully engaged with their colleagues – and highly effective in their pitches – is greatly simplified with the advent of collaborative social platforms. Okay, let’s rephrase that: The proliferation of such platforms has the potential to help solve the problems of increasingly virtual sales teams.

In fact, a recent article indicates that 80% of businesses – the actual number is likely much higher – are using online collaboration tools to help improve business processes such as selling.

However, these tools can only be truly effective if they provide for:

  1. Knowledge sharing – the ability for salespeople to learn from each other’s successful approaches, whether pitches or demos or any other innovative ideas.
  2. Teaming across functions – advancing deals by working with cross-functional teams, e.g., agreeing on next best steps based on the most recent customer interactions.
  3. Visibility – ensure that multiple sales resources aren’t stacked on the same contacts, or pursuing the same opportunities.
  4. Ability to solicit help – the flipside of the above point is that sellers need to be able to tap into available resources when they’re involved in a complex pursuit.
  5. Collaboration between sales and marketing – sharing of reliable information between these two teams is critical, particularly as sales depends so strongly on the quality of leads provided by marketing.
  6. Shared celebration – sales team morale is greatly enhanced when individual and collective successes are celebrated.

Building a culture of collaboration

Of course, it should almost go without saying that implementing a new technology platform and getting the full benefits of it are two vastly different things. The cultural make-up of the sales team is the foundation for effective collaboration.

Technology can facilitate culture change, but by no means can it stand alone in such efforts. The need for broader team development and management approaches still remains, much of which relies on open sharing and communication between and among individual salespeople and their management chain.

But for organizations that are willing to undertake this type of change – as so many clearly are – online collaboration platforms are an invaluable element of the broader program.

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Isabel Mora

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