the true strength of a team
By Gabrielle "GB" Blackwell
4 qualities every team should have
The movie 300 is a perfect illustration of how a high functioning and strong cultured team can accomplish the unthinkable, especially when facing a giant threat with limited resources. (*Cough* economic uncertainty *cough* looming layoffs *cough* the world feels real dumpster fiery *cough*)
As I think about what enabled this small but mighty Spartan crew to endure despite the odds, there are a few things that really stick out :
- There’s a leader who leads from the front
- They know who they are as a team
- Each person is wildly committed to what’s best for their team
- Everyone recognizes their greatest strength comes from the person next to them
Let’s talk about what this looks like in the sales management world…
1. There’s a leader who leads from the front
Tl;dr: People will do as you do.
In times of great change or uncertainty, people will look to their leader for cues. As a manager, that means looking for opportunities to get into the trenches with your team so you can help them figure out a way through unknown circumstances.
Let’s say your team is shifting from an inbound motion to an outbound motion – get in and prospect with your team. Make cold calls. Craft cold emails. Show your team you’re willing to do the work with them.
Even if you’re not amazing at it, it goes a long way when someone knows their manager will walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
🏀Assist: Find opportunities to assist your reps in areas they’re not confident in yet. If you’re in office, make calls alongside them so they’re more willing to overcome any call hesitance. If you’re in a remote setting, find ways to source leads for some of your reps.
2. They know who they are as a team
Tl;dr: If people don’t know what they stand for, they’ll fall for anything.
The more experience I gain as a manager, the more I recognize how important it is to really own my role as a leader.
That means setting the vision, reinforcing everyone’s purpose, creating standards, and holding team members to that standard no matter what.
When managers delegate their leadership responsibilities or avoid doing the work of a leader, that’s where team members begin to feel disconnected from their purpose.
One way to reinforce your people’s connection to their work – and remind them of the purpose they can derive at work – is to make sure you’re connecting the dots between the work your team does and benefit to the company.
Consider bringing in a senior leader or executive to walk through your company’s strategy and how they see your team supporting these efforts.
🏀Assist: Recognition can be a great way to keep your people motivated and connected to the work. Note: recognition isn’t just for big wins. It’s for the little things too, i.e. a rep sets a new personal record for conversations had in one week or demos booked, someone gets a positive response from a prospect, etc.
3. They are wildly committed to what is best for their team
Tl;dr: Don’t mistake sales as an individual sport.
Too often sales leaders fall into the trap of believing sales is an individual effort. But, the top performing sales teams I’ve managed and observed are the ones who have an unbreakable team spirit.
To begin the journey of creating an unbreakable team spirit:
- Identify the unique strengths of the individuals of your team
- Foster a sense of team identity
- Outline the team values or standards of behavior you want to your reps to embody
- Recognize your reps when they’re meeting or exceeding those values or standards
- Provide feedback to reps when they step out of bounds for those values or standards
🏀Assist: You’ll get more information on the last three bullet points in future newsletters this quarter! Be sure to stay tuned 😎!
4. They recognize their greatest strength comes from the person next to them
Tl;dr: The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team. – Phil Jackson
Unfortunately there are cultures out there that ignore the potential of a united and collaborative sales team. These are the cultures where what the leader or manager says goes, with no room for reps to influence or inform how success can be generated.
But, the higher performing teams out there are the ones led by managers who empower their reps to own the individual and team success. This requires managers to find areas where reps can shine – be it leading a training session, hosting a team meeting, taking on a high visibility presentation, or nudging top performing reps to share what’s working for them in team channels.
The more managers create opportunities for their reps to be the subject matter experts (as opposed to the manager), the more the team will rally around each other.
🏀Assist: To start fostering this culture of rep and team empowerment, look for areas of your role that are low impact and low risk. Next, identify if and how these low impact and low risk areas can function as growth opportunities for your rep. Work with them to create a plan for owning these areas and how you’ll socialize their impact with the team and beyond.
Teamwork really does make the difference
When change comes around, it can be a team disruptor, or a team definer.
If you haven’t done the work to lay the foundation for your team’s identity, you’ll always risk seeing your team crumble. But, if you do the work to create a strong sense of team identity and purpose, you’ll position your team to rise to any occasion!