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Five Ways to Be a Team Player on Your Sales Team

Most people might not immediately associate the terms “team player” and “salesperson.” Salespeople are often stereotyped as lone wolves who only look out for themselves. But that isn’t the case at all – being a top performing salesperson means being a team player.

Why? According to the CEO of Sandler Training, David Mattson, sales teams that are united and work together produce greater results. As a result, being a team player can increase the chances of success for both you and your sales organization.

Research shows nearly 75 percent of employers rate teamwork and collaboration as ‘very important.’ This emphasizes that team cohesion is just as important to the leadership team as it is to you. Top sales leaders know that an aligned team mentality can be the difference between a mediocre and a top performing sales force. Even something as simple as providing the sales team with a name can help build teamwork.

So, what can you do to excel as a salesperson and make the team more effective?

Here are 5 ways to be a team player and maximize your sales performance:

1. Meet Your Targets

According to a survey of senior executives by Accountemps, the most common response to activities that make someone a team player is meeting deadlines. Meeting deadlines means meeting commitments, and the biggest commitment a salesperson can make is hitting their targets.

Meeting or exceeding targets has a positive effect on the team as a whole — it fosters healthy competition and a sense of urgency among other reps to achieve their goals. On the other hand, missing targets lowers morale of peers who are frustrated that management tolerates poor performance.

Although most salespeople are measured on individual metrics, everyone’s goals are all a part of larger team goals. A top performing salesperson understands that exceeding expectations can motivate others and is a fundamental aspect of being a team player.

2. Demonstrate Adaptability

With the introduction of social selling, advances in sales management tools, and establishment of hyper-personalized content marketing, the sales industry has dramatically changed in recent years. The influx of Millennials is also dramatically transforming the workplace.

In order to thrive in a constantly-changing environment, sales teams need to adapt to their surroundings and ensure there is alignment across all members. According to Glenn Parker, author of Team Players and Teamwork: New Strategies for Developing Successful Collaboration, in order to be successful in this age, team players need to be “complex, adaptive, creative and flexible.”

But, how do you become an adaptable team member? “Adaptability starts with maintaining an open mind,” says AJ Agrawal, CEO and co-founder of Alumnify and contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine. “It is about being willing to embrace change and be open minded to new things.”

A sales rep who is flexible and adaptable to changing conditions is a strong team player and will maximize his or her performance as an individual contributor.

3. Practice Open Communication

Research shows 86 percent of employees and executives cite a lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for the cause of workplace failures. A lack of communication results in inefficiency, low quality work, and frustration among team members. In fact, David Hassel, CEO of 15Five, says, “in the absence of open communication, a snowball effect of negative actions can envelop the energy of an organization.”

Consequently, David emphasizes that making open communication a part of the company culture is vital to business success and strong team players lead by example. “If it is clear that open communication is welcomed, mutual, and expected, [other team members] will proceed to operate on that basis and seek it out in others.”

To thrive as a top member of your sales team, encourage your teammates to openly discuss their goals, values, and concerns.

4. Provide Support

Perhaps one of the most obvious ways of being a strong team player is to provide support to struggling teammates. A-Players take the time to help their co-workers who aren’t meeting targets through one-on-one coaching/mentoring. Mentoring has proven results. According to a survey by Micro Mentor, “salespeople who received mentoring increased their revenue by an average of $47,000 or 106 percent.”

While it’s clear how supporting others makes you a great team member, how does it help you as an individual? According to Jill Konrath, Speaker and Author of Snap Selling, Selling to Big Companies and Agile Selling, helping struggling team members is the best way for sales reps to set themselves up for a promotion to the leadership team.

Not only does providing support improve your team, it can also play a major role in advancing your career.

5. Be Committed

Great team players are committed to achieving goals and putting in 110 percent every day. According to The Career Advancement Blog, “great team players take the time to make positive work relationships with other team members a priority and display a genuine passion and commitment toward their team.”

Demonstrating commitment establishes you as a team player and can help drive your sales success. “If you want great results, you need to be committed,” says President and CEO of Fusion Logistics, Joe Judson, “Commit to being successful or get ready to be passed by those who are.”

Despite the benefits, studies show employees who are committed to their organization are rare. A Gallup poll found that only one in eight workers are psychologically committed to their jobs and “likely to be making positive contribution to their organizations.” As a result, salespeople who are committed to their goals, team, and organization stand out to the leadership team and are more likely to be considered for promotion opportunities.

Become a team player and advance your career

While it’s easy to get lost in your individual work and goals, it should remain a priority to act as a team player on your sales force. Work to consistently meet your targets, adapt to your surroundings, practice open communication, provide support, and demonstrate your commitment to maximize your performance as a sales team and individual contributor.

Ultimately, these contributions will not only help you succeed, but will lead to improved performance for your entire sales organization.

Teamwork makes the dream work!


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Eliot Burdett

CEO at Peak Sales Recruiting

Before Peak, Eliot spent more than 20 years building and leading companies, where he took the lead in recruiting and managing high performance sales teams. He co-founded Ventrada Systems (mobile applications) and GlobalX (e-commerce software). He was also Vice President of Sales for PointShot Wireless. Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner. He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.