Sales Team Collaboration: Strategies for Effective Communication

Posted by Mark Ackers

Much as salespeople might deny it, closing a deal in today’s world is rarely an individual achievement. When you’re doing complex deals with multiple parties involved, it’s a team effort. 

The buyer’s journey typically begins when they see something produced by marketing. Next, they’ll be contacted by an SDR who will arrange the next steps, then hand the lead over to an AE to close the deal. Once they’ve signed on the line, the Customer Success team will handle the relationship. Effective communication and collaboration are essential to keep all these moving parts working smoothly. 

In this article, with the help of MySalesCoach expert Fred Copestake, we’ll lay out some strategies that will enhance team efficiency through improved communication. Let’s get started.

This article is part of the essential guide to Sales Team Leadership.

 

We'll Cover:

 

The Impact of Collaboration and Communication in Sales

But it’s not just about collaboration between colleagues in your sales team. Salespeople also need to collaborate with prospects to get the deal over the line. In today’s business environment, you don’t sell at someone, you sell with them. 

Research from G2 found that buying committees influence software purchasing decisions in 80% of B2B companies. One purchase could have up to 22 stakeholders involved. 

’Most complex sales involve a number of people from our side and a repeat on their side. You can’t go off as some kind of lone wolf.’ - Fred Copestake

 

Cultivating a Culture of Open Communication

 

Establishing Trust and Transparency

Think about the culture in your sales team. Do you think your people feel free to speak freely, even if it means saying something someone else won’t like?

Transparency is essential in a successful sales team, where people treat each other respectfully and dig deep to solve problems. 

Create an environment of psychological safety, where someone can say something and not worry about getting shot down or creating trouble for themselves further down the line. Make them comfortable starting difficult conversations, because the best results happen when you leave your comfort zone.

If you want to find out more about managing a smooth sales leadership transition, we have an article here.

 

Regular Communication Practices

With so many tools in our stack - email, phone, Zoom, Slack and instant messaging, to name a few - there is no excuse not to communicate. Communication is inexpensive, fast and simple.

Regular team meetings are essential to keep everyone on the same page, reinforced by individual communications when needed. However, be careful not to hide behind the tech.

’Get the balance right. Don’t think cheap, fast communications can fill the gap of a human face-to-face sales meeting.’ - Fred Copestake

If you want to know how to get the most out of your sales team in a remote environment, we have an article on remote sales leadership here.

 

Encouraging Feedback and Active Listening

There are four levels of listening:

  • Skim listening - Where you look like you’re listening, but you’re not listening at all
  • ‘Sort of’ listening - You have a tiny idea of what’s going on, but you’re not taking in any information
  • Search listening - Where you’re listening out for the thing you want to hear so you can jump in and take over
  • Active listening - The top level of listening where you’re taking everything in even when you’re not contributing

Many salespeople are guilty of search listening because they want to come in with their killer lines. Some leaders do too, because you’re listening out for signs that everything is going well. However, you can miss important information when you only listen at this level. 

Do your best to practise active listening.

 

Addressing Communication Barriers

What stands in the way of communication in your team?

People are different, and they like to communicate in different ways. This can be accentuated if you have people in your team from different countries. However, as a leader, you want to get everyone communicating openly, even if it makes them uncomfortable.

Part of this comes from creating a transparent environment, as discussed earlier. But there’s more you can do.

‘People in the same country can’t even agree on what we call a bread-based product! Is it a roll? A cob? People get quite opinionated about it. 

‘There are exercises you can do to help your people understand those differences of opinion, of how you process stuff. Then you can talk about how you approach customers.’ - Fred Copestake

 

Promoting Inclusivity in Communication

In addition to cultural differences, people are different in how they process information. Some prefer to read, others listen, others prefer visual images rather than text. Find out how the person you’re talking to likes to receive information and try to cater to that.

One way to break down those barriers is to communicate emotionally - because everyone has emotions. You’ll find that when you do this, whatever you say is more likely to stick in their minds.

If you're interested in finding out more about inclusive leadership in sales, we have an article here.

 

Sales Coaching Playbook

Strengthening Interdepartmental Collaboration

 

Building Bridges with Other Departments

When it takes a village to close a deal, effective collaboration between departments is essential - and communication is the fuel that powers that collaboration.

To build those all-important interdepartmental relationships, focus on what unites you all - the customer. When you and your colleagues understand that you’re here to serve the customer and not yourselves, working together becomes much easier and you can overcome whatever obstacles come up.

‘Make sure the customer is successful - and you will be successful.’ - Fred Copestake

 

The Role of Cross-Functional Teams

In a sales environment with multiple stakeholders on a deal, cross-functional teams make sense. Get people together from functions across your company and get them pulling together towards a common goal.

‘I say, ‘Look, you’re the finance guy. Can you speak to them about finance stuff in your financing language?’ Or, ‘You’re the logistics guy. Can you speak to that logistics person?’ You get a far better level of communication going on, as well as a stronger sense of connection.’ - Fred Copestake

This approach builds solid relationships that lead to a stronger, longer-lasting, mutually beneficial relationship, compared to you being in the middle and trying to speak a hundred different languages.

 

Addressing Challenges in Team Collaboration

‘Organisations don’t collaborate. People do.’ - Fred Copestake

You’re bound to encounter obstacles as you attempt to revolutionise communication in your sales team and with your customers.

One obstacle is that people may be resistant to change. Change makes them uncomfortable. This is a strange feeling for salespeople to have, because really, salespeople sell change. 

However, as the leader, you have the opportunity to set the tone. Be as transparent as you can about the changes you make. Be honest and open (yet respectful) when you give feedback. Finally, talk about your vision, about the environment you want to create and why it’s an optimal idea. Talk about the steps you must take and how it will create win-win situations for everyone.

With this approach, you’ll take everyone on the journey with you.

 

Conclusion

Communication and collaboration are essential to make sales in today’s world. So, you’d think it would be easy to sell the benefits of better communication to your sales team. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, but with deliberate actions on your part as the leader, you can make it work.

Create an open environment where everyone feels comfortable giving their opinion and receiving feedback, whether it’s good or bad. Position yourself as your customer’s teammate rather than their adversary. Then, break down barriers wherever you find them. 

When you do this, you’ll reap the rewards.

 

Find out more from MySalesCoach

At MySalesCoach, we help busy sales managers and ambitious reps reach their potential with expert, consistent 1:1 coaching.

To find out more about MySalesCoach, book a call with us today. 

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