When you think of a career in sales, collaboration probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, you may think the exact opposite – and you wouldn’t be alone. Movies like The Wolf of Wall Street perpetuate the idea that sales is a cutthroat job, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Today, modern companies and sales professionals are realizing the true value of collaboration. It has become clear that the best and most truthful information comes when you leverage the people around you, rather than simply competing with them.
It’s not that sales has lost its edge. Salespeople are still working toward their individual quotas, still monitoring their territories, and at the end of the day, they’re still after their commission. But they’re also working together to pursue shared goals, too.
This collaboration creates better salespeople and ultimately, drives a bigger impact for the business. So how can companies not just encourage this practice, but also show the way?
The answer comes down to collaborative learning.
By injecting collaborative learning into your sales training, you can set up your sales reps for success from day one. Not to mention, you’ll be reaping all the benefits that come along with an inclusive and cohesive workspace.
Let’s start by looking at the basics.
Collaborative learning is an environment in which two or more people are working together to learn or solve problems. In doing this, they’re able to lean on one another’s skillsets, sharing knowledge, experience, and expertise.
“Contrary to the top-down student-teacher approach employed by most organizations today where employees non-interactively receive information, collaborative learning relies on bottom-up peer learning.”
Source: What is Collaborative Learning? – 360Learning.com
By practicing collaborative learning in large groups, you can get a tremendous wealth of knowledge – even if each individual contributes just one thing. This is invaluable, as people can combine their different life experiences so that the group can make more informed decisions.
In business – and particularly, in a sales setting – this may take different forms. Collaborative learning can be as simple as two account executives putting their heads together to close a deal, or as elaborate as a cross-functional project between your sales, product, and marketing teams.
While both of those events sound really great, how can we ensure they actually happen when it matters?
Let’s face it: what your new employee learns in training is what they’ll take with them on the job. To ensure your sales team values collaboration, you have to focus on co-operation from day one.
Collaboration shouldn’t be an afterthought. It should be implemented from the start, so that your sales team will take it with them as they settle in to their new role.
Here are three reasons you should include a focus on collaboration at the beginning.
While sales has historically been seen as an independent – and even competitive – industry, more and more companies are starting to realize the value of collaboration.
Quotas aside – let’s take a minute to think about your account executives and who they really are. People.
With or without collaborative learning, sales is a high-pressure role. Collaborative learning sends the message that, while you expect your employees to perform, you also expect them to be human. A little friendly competition has its place, but you also expect them to help one another and lift up their colleagues.
Creating this environment, means more than you may think. The impact that collaborative learning can have on your business goals is important, but the impact it has on your employees and their wellbeing is even greater.
In sales, as with all professions, some long-term habits can be hard to shift. People are used to competing against each other, and a shift in mindset won’t happen right away.
That is exactly why you should introduce collaborative learning as soon as your new employee signs their contract, as part of their sales onboarding.
Imagine you’ve hired fifteen new account executives. On their first day, they quickly make their introductions, and then they’re all sent to their desks to watch training videos and explore your sales software with their headphones on. How much collaboration can you really expect?
Alternatively, you could have them watch the sales training video together and then talk through each scenario, using real-life experiences and expertise to help them come to a solution.
Six months later, when Salesperson A gets pushback from a prospect over a particular product feature, they’ll remember that Salesperson B experienced something similar at their last job. They put their collective heads together to get the deal across the line.
Who wouldn’t want that?
In sales, closing the deal is important. But it’s not the most important thing.
It’s what comes after you close the deal. That’s right – the relationship you build (and maintain) with your customers is mission-critical. Collaborative selling can help you ensure that relationship – and your customer experience – remains best-in-class.
When you encourage employees across your customer to jump into conversations, you make sure that your customer is always getting the most complete picture of your product and brand.
It may be your product manager jumping on a call to help explain a complicated feature, or your support specialist communicating directly with a customer to jump into the project management tool and expedite their request. In high-stakes cases, a salesperson may tap an executive to reach out to a prospect who has gone dark.
What this really means is that your customer is getting more attention and receiving more information than they would have been able to from the salesperson alone. Ultimately, this helps to personalize their experience, and sets the customer relationship up for success.
Sales doesn’t have to be the dog-eat-dog world that people may think it is. A great sales strategy can help boost your public image and create word of mouth around your brand.
By injecting collaborative learning into your sales training, you can improve the way your sales team works with one another, the rest of the company, and most importantly, with their customers.
To see how 360Learning’s collaborative learning platform can help you make your sales training more collaborative, get in touch with us today for a demo.