Focus on World-Class, Part 6: Sharing Best Practices

In this 12-part series, each post examines one of the 12 best practices identified in the 2017 CSO Insights World-Class Sales Practices Report. Today’s best practice: “We effectively collect and share best practices across our sales and service organizations.”

“The more we share, the more we have.”
̶ Leonard Nimoy

Sharing is often mentioned and often done – especially on social media. However, it isn’t always a good practice in sales organizations, let alone a best practice. That has a lot to do with misunderstanding competitiveness and collaboration.

Sales organizations have to stand more competitive pressure than all other functions in the company. This competitive pressure is a given; it’s an element of the environmental context in the markets they are operating in.

Competitive sales cultures stand in the way of what’s much needed: conscious collaboration and sharing experiences and best practices

Being competitive is considered a necessary trait to win deals against competitors. Let’s think about it for a moment. Winning deals is actually happening by working with the customers and winning their mind share by providing the most relevant and valuable approach to solve their business problem. Of course, you have your competitors in the rear view mirror. But where is your energy? With the competitors or with your customers? Winning their mindshare with solutions tailored to their particular business problems is what closes deals. And that is called collaboration. Conscious collaboration to be precise.

Conscious collaboration operates in two ways: with your customers to create more and better business, and within the sales force so that whoever is in a prospect or customer interaction can be as relevant and as valuable as possible.

Now, let’s focus on the key aspects of collaboration that are connected to the top 12 practice we are discussing today “We effectively collect and share best practices across our sales and service organizations.”

  • World-class sales leaders establish a culture of conscious collaboration across the sales organization:
    Culture is determined by the organization’s leaders. If they want to establish a collaborative culture, they know that they are the ones who have to demonstrate what that looks like in every decision they make and every action they take. They also know that they have to lead their direct reports the same way to ensure that the culture gets established over time.
  • World-class sales enablement leaders invest in a collaborative approach that allows sharing with, and learning from, each other:
    Implementing a collaborative sales force enablement practice requires more than investing in collaborative enablement technology. It requires an entire system of enablement services, processes, tools, and policies to allow that sharing of good and best practices to actually happen.
  • World-class sales enablement leaders collaborate with frontline sales managers to ensure that actual sharing and learning happen in their sales teams:
    Based on a collaborative enablement practice, sales enablement leaders, sales ops leaders and frontline sales mangers collaborate to ensure that sharing and learning actually happen in their sales teams. For example, they may ask sales managers to lead topical coaching workshops with their teams that focus on sharing, discussing, and learning based on best practices regarding a specific topic. These workshops could be held monthly, in addition to the individual coaching sessions, and topics could be, for instance, messaging to a new buyer role, prospecting in a new industry, negotiation issues, dealing with large decision making units, etc.
  • World-class organizations make also sure that their compensation and incentive system reflects the collaborative culture they are going to create:
    Collaborative enablement efforts and the best systems for sharing won’t work if the compensation system speaks a different language. Often, almost everything in the sales force has been aligned to a new strategy, but not the compensation system. Often, in fact, in many countries, it requires conversations with workers’ council that sales leaders try to avoid. However, real change towards a sharing, and learning culture requires the compensation system to reflect exactly that.

Sharing best practices doesn’t happen for its own sake. Sharing good and best practices should always lead to some kind of learning that improves, for instance, the selling system, the sales enablement approach or its services, or simply salespeople’s individual performance.

Questions:

  • How do you encourage salespeople to share best practices?
  • What is the value you want to get out of sharing best practices?
  • How do you integrate sales managers in the approach to ensure that sharing and learning actually happens?

 

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