You might participate on a team because of your sales expertise to improve some aspect of the business. Salespeople often participate on teams because of their unique perspective with customers. Teamwork in sales can be rewarding and it can present its own challenges. Here’s what you can do to participate on and create a high functioning team.
Be sure to set the ground rules for the team.
The team leader should initially set the ground rules for teamwork in sales. I like when the leader asks for input for ground rules so everyone feels like they’re contributing to the success of the team. Simply dictating how the team must work is less effective when you’re working with professionals.
Be ready to offer your input on how the group should function if the leader doesn’t include how the team communicates with management. The group should agree on all communication before sending their recommendation to management. One person does the communicating and signs the names of all group members to the communication. You want to avoid one person on the team trying to go around the group and directly communicating to management without the group’s input or approval.
Encourage consensus for teamwork in sales.
I find that coming to consensus is a powerful way for the team to operate. You should expect disagreement from some group members on some items. Disagreements are ok because your group becomes stronger when the group resolves them. The leader should encourage respectful discussion so team members are comfortable voicing their concerns. I like the idea of DISCO. It’s an abbreviation for disagreement, but come to consensus. The objective is for the group to create something they all can support, despite initial disagreement.
Consensus builds a common area and it helps to avoid dissent in the group. The group’s output is going to be recommendations. You do need the support of the team to implement the group’s recommendations. Consensus allows the entire team to support the implementation of the group’s work.
Team leaders should pay extra attention to truly build consensus. Passive aggressive team members might publicly (and resentfully) support the group. Later they gossip and undermine the group’s work. That sabotage increases the likelihood that the group’s work will fail.
What can you do when someone breaks the rules?
You have a delicate situation when one member of the group breaks the previously agreed ground rules. One example would be when one group member decides to send to management a memo on his own without the group’s input or approval. Then imagine the rule breaker texts his coworkers and says, “I hope you don’t think I sold you down the river…” How could anyone think anything other than that?
Now the leader must respond. Not saying anything really isn’t a good option. The team leader must deal with the situation calmly. Privately contact the rule breaker and indicate the behavior was unacceptable and disrespectful to the group since they agreed on getting input, but the individual didn’t in this case. Ask that this does not happen again. One can only hope the rule breaker doesn’t do it again.
I hope you get to participate on a team during your sales career. It can be very satisfying work. Oliver Wendell Holmes was right when he said “”Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up.”