Competition vs Collaboration – What Drives High-Performing Sales?

World-class sales teams embrace competition and collaboration, which ultimately result in increased sales productivity and sales efficiency.

“Competition makes us faster. Collaboration makes us better.”

Competition is in our nature. We compete against other teams or individuals in sports, we compete with siblings for our parents’ attention, we compete with our peers for the best jobs, we compete with coworkers for a raise or promotion. Sales in particular is known for its dog-eat-dog, quota-oriented nature, which serves to basically position colleagues against each other. But for an organization, this can be a waste of time, effort, and resources, when the true competitors are external forces.

Sales teams are increasingly chasing more aggressive goals with greater pressure to over-achieve, but the question is whether high performance comes from promoting competition amongst reps or encouraging collaboration. Let’s explore!

Why Should Sales Teams Compete?

Competition is traditionally how sales team have been driven, in both B2B and B2C. Some of the touted benefits include the following:

Motivate the sales team

Some sales reps thrive on competition and under the sense of urgency. They crave the reward, as well as the personal sense of accomplishment.

Foster innovation

Competition encourages sales reps to constantly seek out ways to improve and to push themselves further. Is there a different process they can follow to get ahead? Is there a new technology that can help them advance pipeline faster? Is there other messaging that can convert prospects more effectively?

Discourage complacency

Competition pushes reps out of their comfort zone as they strive to be in that coveted top 20% of performers. For leadership, it also separates the leaders from those who are just sliding by with the bare minimum.

But competition usually means that sales reps don’t share their secrets to success in order to achieve higher individual goals, sometimes even at the expense of corporate goals.

Why Should Sales Teams Collaborate?

Collaboration encourages sales reps to work with each other instead of against each other, leveraging best practices and, in turn, increasing efficiency. In a collaborative situation, sales reps share their best practices and learnings to help the organization succeed as a whole. Everybody in the company has something to say and undoubtedly has some value to contribute.

Learn from others

Collaboration provides an opportunity to learn from each other’s successes and failures so that the organization as a whole can understand and grow. This collaborative learning more effectively supports long-term goals for the organization.

Break down barriers

Collaboration within the sales organization is important, but collaboration extends to other departments as well. For example, the customer service team knows what customers are saying about the product, the sales team understands what challenges prospects face on a daily basis, and senior management can likely offer broader perspectives on the industry.

People in other departments may be able to see the bigger picture in a way that others cannot. And team members shouldn’t be afraid to speak up, ask questions, and share their experiences. A culture of collaboration serves to leverage the internal pool of untapped talent and subject expertise but also improves internal communication and empowers employees. As a result, silos of data, information, and communication are eliminated.

Share goals

Everybody in the sales organization, from the VP down to the individual sales rep, should share a common vision with buy-in from all employees. What is it that the organization is trying to achieve? What is the end goal? And along with that, it’s important to observe successes. Remember, a win for an individual is a win for the company, and that’s something that everybody should celebrate.

Competition vs Collaboration – Can a Sales Team Do Both?

The best sales teams encourage both collaboration and competition – reps should collaborate with their peers to compete against the industry and the standard quo. Your sales reps should act and function as a ‘team’ – not just a group of revenue-oriented individuals. Collaboration here isn’t about ‘leveling the playing field’ – it’s about helping each rep be their best and work toward a common goal.

And it’s important to note a few things about competition.

  1. It doesn’t have to be on an individual level – it can be on a group or team level, or there can be multiple winners.
  2. It doesn’t always have to be revenue-based. Competition can also be based around activities, such as emails sent or phone calls made, or based around goals, such as meetings set or number of deals advanced.
  3. It doesn’t always have to include a monetary reward. Winners could receive perks such as having a half day off work, getting to choose the location for the next team outing, or receiving an upgrade to their office chair or desk.

The Role of Sales Enablement Technology

Collaboration serves to leverage the internal pool of talent, knowledge, and experience but also improves internal communication and empowers employees. The result is a boost in productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness, driving bottom-line results.

Technology empowers today’s workforces by connecting more employees than ever before. A sales enablement tool such as Seismic improves marketing and sales collaboration and communication by using real-time data from best practices and peers to determine what content is most effective at progressing deals and generating the highest ROI and then surfacing recommended content based on the Salesforce record, right in the CRM and email. This allows sales reps to deliver the right message at the right time and allows them to remain focused on sales objectives, rather than on how to out-perform their peers.


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