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Most consider sales an “individual” activity. In reality, collaborative sales efforts improve efficiency, help reps achieve success, and ultimately increase revenue. As the way we work has evolved—with more teams adopting remote and hybrid working models—effective sales collaboration has become even more critical.
What is Sales Collaboration?
Sales collaboration is a team-based approach to sales in which teams work together to strategize, plan, and execute activities that lead to successful sales outcomes (i.e., Closed Won deals).
Sales collaboration starts with a shared understanding of the customer’s needs and goals. They then work together to best meet those objectives through research, data analysis, and communication.
Activities involved in collaborative sales efforts include:
- Jointly defining target markets and customer profiles
- Sharing customer research and insights
- Collaborating on sales presentations and proposals
- Coordinating sales efforts with marketing and other departments
- Conducting post-sale analysis and continuous improvement
The shift in how we work means companies must adapt sales management measures to fit flexible working arrangements. According to recent research from HubSpot, 46% of sales organizations operate under a hybrid model, 18% are fully remote, and just over one-third work exclusively in-office.
The goal of a collaborative culture is for each team member to understand the customer, each other’s roles, and how to best work together, no matter the working arrangements. By breaking down silos between sales reps, marketers, and support staff, everyone can work together to identify the right solutions for customers.
- Collaborative selling: A team-based approach to selling that enables companies to better understand and identify customer needs, providing a more personalized sales experience.
- Cooperative selling: Allowing multiple sales reps to work together in the same deal or opportunity.
- Online collaboration for sales teams: Using online tools to share customer data and insights, communicate with customers, create sales presentations, and unify a remote or hybrid sales force.
- Sales team collaboration: Working together to develop, plan and execute sales strategies that help reps close more deals and increase revenue.
Benefits of Building a Collaborative Sales Culture
The advantages of fostering a collaborative culture extend beyond the mere act of working together.
Encouraging communication, trust, and cooperation among team members and sales leaders, unlocks a multitude of profound benefits that drive success and growth for the entire organization.
- Enhanced customer satisfaction and loyalty. Salespeople who tap into the collective knowledge and skills of the entire team provide more value and better solutions to customers, leading to improved satisfaction and long-term loyalty.
- Cross-functional learning and growth. Collaboration among sales teams enables sales professionals with diverse skill sets to learn from each other, expand their expertise, and enhance their sales techniques. Continuous learning leads to a more skilled, adaptable, and high-performing organization.
- Access to information and resources. Sellers who collaborate with colleagues and SMEs across the organization can access crucial information and resources, enabling them to address customer queries, sell products, and close deals faster with full sales funnel visibility.
- Leveraging collective knowledge for better decision-making. As a single source of truth, collaborative sellers harness their collective knowledge to make better-informed decisions regarding company culture, product information, and target demographics.
- Attracting and retaining top talent. Positive (and collaborative) sales culture is an environment where employees feel valued, supported, and empowered. A better selling experience attracts quality sellers and encourages existing ones to stay engaged and committed to their roles.
- Streamlining the sales process. Collaborative sales teams are better positioned to identify inefficiencies and redundancies in their sales processes, leading to streamlined workflows and higher sales efficiency.
Sales Collaboration Challenges
Despite the immense benefits of cooperative efforts, sales teams still face hurdles when attempting to foster a culture of collaboration.
Different Working Styles and Backgrounds
Team members may have different ideas on prioritizing tasks, managing customer relationships, or sharing information. This disconnect can lead to tension and low morale among peers.
Some sellers, for instance, are better suited to startup environments—that is, they’re more proactive, risk-tolerant, and comfortable with ambiguity.
Others work well in enterprise workforces where processes are well-defined, and expectations are clear. They’re more comfortable taking direction and following established guidelines.
Bringing these two types of sellers together to collaborate can be a challenge for sales managers who need to find the right balance between flexibility and structure while building their team (and, by extension, culture).
For reps and prospective buyers, virtual selling makes the process easier. For the entire department, it’s a different story.
With almost two-thirds of sellers working at least somewhat remotely, managing remote sales teams is now the most prevalent challenge organizations face.
Remote sellers need the same resources available in a physical office—they just can’t get it in the same way.
It’s up to sales leaders to develop strategies that enable their remote teams to stay productive and maximize their collective selling potential.
Siloed Departments and Lack of Accessibility
Customer success and marketing teams don’t communicate with sales teams, leading to misalignment, missed sales opportunities, and a disjointed customer experience.
Without data sharing and cross-functional collaboration, salespeople can’t access the insights they need to engage buyers, let alone use them.
About one-third of all sales activities are automatable, according to cross-functional research from the McKinsey Global Institute.
A fully integrated tech stack is the key to sales productivity. But when organizations use multiple, disconnected tools to manage customer data, track interactions, and store sales information, teams cannot access all of the same resources.
Reps struggle to deliver an integrated omnichannel experience when some of their technology doesn’t fit the rest.
Sometimes, the issue isn’t having the wrong technology. It’s having too much.
Technology overload can cause numerous problems for sales departments:
- Newer or younger reps may be more comfortable with the latest technologies, but older team members might lack the technical know-how and be unfamiliar with the latest sales collaboration tools.
- Team members sometimes have difficulty setting up and learning new sales tools, leading to inefficiencies, lower morale, and delays in sales activities.
- If the software provider doesn’t onboard reps, they won’t know how to create sales workflows that drive productivity.
When choosing a sales stack, organizations must consider all of the above challenges in order to select tools that fit and improve their existing processes.
Sharing Commission Equitably
“I contributed more to the sale, so I should get more out of it.”
When multiple reps join forces to close a deal, sales managers usually split the commission evenly. Surface-level, this seems fair. But it leads to dissatisfaction (or worse, resentment) if team members feel they aren’t fairly compensated for their contributions. Claims like the above create discord and undermine the collaborative spirit.
To maintain a supportive sales environment, consider alternative approaches to acknowledging and rewarding teamwork. Offer praise for outstanding efforts, provide spot bonuses, or implement a modified deferred-compensation plan that fairly recognizes the contributions of a two- or three-person closing team.
For instance, each member involved in closing the deal could receive 75% of the total commission that a single representative would have earned. This way, the collaborative process is rewarded, and each member’s contributions are acknowledged (at a more favorable rate).
Strategies for Sales Collaboration
High-performing sales teams use a range of strategies to foster collaboration and drive results. Here are just a few:
In organizations that have not fully embraced a data-driven culture, teams may struggle to extract valuable insights from the information available to them. Only 25% of employees believe they can effectively use data to their advantage—a huge reason for this is the lack of true data synchronization.
To improve data synchronization within your organization, consider taking the following steps using your existing data:
- Centralize data storage
- Establish data consistency
- Schedule regular data updates
- Encourage data transparency
- Train team members in data management on software and workflows
Enable Remote Selling
More than two out of every three Americans currently express a preference for fully remote work, and much more would at least prefer a hybrid model. This considerable majority underscores the growing trend toward flexible work arrangements.
Remote selling works especially well for organizations that:
- Operate in industries with geographically dispersed clients, allowing sales representatives to engage customers without the need for extensive travel.
- Want to tap into a larger talent pool and aren’t worried about the nuanced benefits of in-person meetings.
- Have teams that are comfortable with digital communication tools and can effectively engage potential customers online.
- Embrace digital transformation, utilizing technologies such as CRM systems, video conferencing platforms, and sales enablement tools to facilitate seamless communication and collaboration among remote team members.
- Value flexibility and work-life balance for their employees, recognizing the benefits of increased job satisfaction, employee retention, and overall productivity.
- Understand the importance of regular communication and virtual team-building activities to maintain team cohesion and foster a sense of shared purpose.
Of course, remote work may not be the best fit for every company. Some organizations may choose to maintain in-house sales teams to foster a specific company culture or to promote face-to-face interactions with clients.
Hire Team Players
When building a collaborative sales team, it’s essential to focus on hiring individuals with a strong team-oriented mindset.
Pay close attention to the language potential hires use during interviews. Do they predominantly emphasize their personal achievements (e.g., “I exceeded my quota”)?
Or do they tend to highlight the accomplishments of their previous teams, using phrases like “We achieved X” or “We reached X goal”?
Candidates with a “we mentality” are destined for sales success in a collaborative environment.
For example, consider two candidates:
- Candidate A boasts about their personal achievements, emphasizing outperforming their peers. They seldom mention their previous team’s success as a whole or their contributions to the bigger picture.
- Candidate B talks about how their previous sales team achieved impressive results by working together and pooling their resources. They share anecdotes about their role in the team’s success, such as helping develop new strategies or mentoring junior team members.
Candidate B is a stronger team player who will contribute to a collaborative sales environment.
Integrate Sales Collaboration Tools
84% of employees think leaders should move to modern tech stacks, which entail using a sales engagement platform for client communication, a CRM to manage customer data and track interactions, and other sales-specific tools for lead generation.
Sales collaboration tools look different for companies of different sizes and industries.
- Large-scale organizations may need to invest in an enterprise sales tool suite like Salesforce, while SMBs can opt for a smaller set of unified tools.
- Companies with field reps or complex products benefit from sales enablement solutions that provide access to product information, case studies, and customer testimonials.
- Firms operating in mature markets need customizable software that can quickly and accurately process large amounts of data.
Ideally, new collaboration tools should integrate with current systems out of the box. But if not, automation and API-based integrations can bridge the gap between different systems.
Sales Collaboration Tools
With the right sales collaboration software, members can collaborate more effectively and make faster decisions. The following are good places to start:
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
CRM software is the cornerstone of any successful sales organization. It stores customer data, tracks sales activity, and automates follow-up tasks.
In addition to data-rich dashboards, process automation, and reporting features, modern CRMs also provide advanced analytics capabilities to surface valuable patterns from customer interactions.
Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ)
The main benefit of CPQ software is its ability to streamline the sales process and make it more efficient.
CPQ solutions provide a single platform for developing quotes and contracts, approving customer orders, and managing discounts. This is especially useful for complex sales processes like B2B deals and telecom contracts that rely on multiple input parameters.
Digital sales room (DealRoom) is an online platform used to bring deals to closure faster. It provides real-time visibility and allows sales teams to track progress, view contracts, and access customer data in one place.
DealRoom supports collaboration between internal departments by enabling everyone involved in the deal—from finance and legal to operations—to work together on the same documents.
This collaboration is passed down to the prospect—buyer engagement improves when they receive immediate feedback and have the ability to track progress in real-time.
Sales Engagement Tools
Sales engagement tools come in all shapes and sizes, but they all share one common goal: moving sales conversations forward.
Engagement tools range from simple email tracking and call logging to more sophisticated automated workflows and AI-powered recommendations.
These applications help reps identify the most promising opportunities, set up meetings, create personalized pitches, and manage the customer lifecycle.
Tips for Selecting Sales Collaboration Tools
Software adoption will only be successful if the tools you choose fit your needs. Here are seven tips for choosing the right sales collaboration software:
- Assess your sales team’s specific requirements to determine the features and functionality necessary for effective collaboration.
- Choose a tool with an intuitive interface to minimize the learning curve and encourage adoption among team members.
- Opt for a solution that seamlessly integrates with your existing software ecosystem, such as CRM and marketing platforms.
- Ensure software scalability, accommodating an expanding team and increasing workload.
- Customizability helps if you need to align software with your team’s unique processes and workflows.
- Prioritize solutions with robust security measures to protect sensitive sales and customer data (most already fit this category).
- Look for onboarding and ongoing customer support to assist with any issues that may arise during implementation or ongoing use.
People Also Ask
Why is collaboration important in sales?
Collaboration in sales is essential because it enhances efficiency, fosters knowledge sharing, improves customer satisfaction, and ultimately increases revenue by leveraging the collective skills and expertise of the sales team.
What are the 4 steps of collaboration?
In a sales context, the four steps of collaboration are as follows:
1. Assess team requirements
2. Create collaboration guidelines and outline new processes
3. Select software that makes current workflows more collaborative
4. Onboard team members and drive adoption
How do you encourage collaboration between sales teams?
Encouraging collaboration between sales teams requires creating an environment of trust, setting expectations for team members, and providing the necessary tools and resources to enable effective collaboration.
In practice, this could include introducing collaboration software, setting up regular team meetings, and providing training sessions.