Are you a sales professional working as part of a team where some or all of the work affecting clients and prospects is being done remotely? If so, you’ve probably seen first-hand how easy it is for important messages to be dropped, deadlines to be missed, and people who need to connect somehow disengage and drop important to-do items. Such problems can slow down (or crash) your sales process. Ensuring effective collaboration and teamwork in the hybrid sales environment can be a major challenge!
With that challenge in mind, here are five powerful strategies for making collaboration and teamwork standing operating procedure, both remotely and in person.
- Get in front of the curve. Set aside collaboration time in your calendar and project timelines. Do this early. When you block out time early in a project to get input, you can avoid costly delays and objections at the end. Doing this one simple step allows you to take the time to get to know your team, discover their strengths and weaknesses, and onboard them to the project effectively, so you can leverage their help in the most beneficial way possible. I’m talking here about personal outreach calls to connect, setting up launch calls, and planning in feedback loops into your sales process and your project timeline. All of these events are important enough to merit slots on your calendar. So don’t wing it, or wait for disaster to strike: schedule the interactions. Create the reminders and the calendar space necessary to engage with your team.
- Use technology to engage, not to hide. When collaborating with the team, make sure you choose the communication channels that are most appropriate for the message. Brief memos can be sent by email, for instance, and you may want to supplement the memo with a video recording…but in-depth discussions need to happen in a call or meeting. Similarly, don’t try to address complex issues via group text discussions. Sure, sometimes more people can talk at the same time in a text chat, but there are disadvantages to consider you can’t hear their tone or see their reactions, and it’s hard to tell who’s engaged and who isn’t.
- Set clear agendas and up-front contracts for what success looks like in each interaction. What is your goal for the outcome of the meeting? What’s on the agenda? Who is responsible for doing what? Get clear on each person’s role. Explain concisely, within the agenda, what you need from each person for the project to have a successful outcome.
- Be curious and ask questions. A huge part of being a good teammate, collaborator, salesperson, and leader is listening. That means reading your audience, asking accessible questions about both the challenges and the possible next steps, and adapting your communication to the person and the situation. Once you understand where they are coming from, you can meet them there and help guide them to a solution.
- Leave time to land the plane. Plane crashes occur, predictably enough, in the final moments of a flight; the same, alas, is often true of both sales calls and internal meetings. Schedule enough time for everyone to have a say and understand and buy into what needs to happen next. Remember: A great meeting is only as good as the decisions you make and the actions you take as a result of the conversation.
Make these five steps a personal habit, and your team meetings will be more productive, whether your colleagues opt to take part in person or via a remote communication platform like Zoom.