Coworkers laughing around a table together
Maximize sales team potential through collaboration & motivation

In any business, all employees play a role in the success or decline of a company. Each position has its importance. Success depends on many factors. The culture of the organization sets the tone for the employees. Management needs to make sure employees understand the expectations and strategy of the company. In return, the employees perform their jobs in accordance with their understanding of these expectations.

Every employee has a level of job satisfaction. Knowing this is critical to understanding employee actions, attitude and performance. So many elements determine job satisfaction. Employee satisfaction has a major impact on growth and sustainability. One type of employee to look at to understand this is the salesperson.

The role of salesperson is one that can be effective in the organization’s culture and profitability. Salespeople are typically motivated and outgoing. They have different skill sets that allow them to be able to communicate effectively with customers. They are sometimes called the cheerleader of the company. Salespeople usually communicate easily with other employees in the office or in any interaction as well. This innate ability allows them to be effective at most kinds of internal communication.


Internal collaboration between departments can provide significant value to an organization. Sharing ideas, challenging status quo, personal experiences, market knowledge, etc., are just a few actions that can occur with collaboration. A commitment to formalizing collaboration can truly benefit the company. The actions can result in improved products, cost savings, increased profitability and, more importantly, a heightened sense of employee satisfaction.

Keys to a Successful Team

The first step is to determine the collaborating team’s objective, which must be clear to the members and supported visibly by management. Management should support team members openly sharing ideas. Direct managers also need to understand the commitments required of each individual on the team. This alignment allows for greater success.

When setting up collaboration within the company, there are some key points to consider. Organizing the team is important to receive a good cross section of perspectives. Management selects the most effective team by considering the skills and qualities in the individuals needed to be productive. Each employee has different skills and experience.

In many cases management may consider a relatively new employee for a fresh perspective on current processes. They may bring some good ideas or best practices from a former employer.

The next step is team organization and responsibilities. The expectations should be formalized immediately. The leader of the team is responsible for managing the process. The leader also participates in the discussions and assignments. Each member needs to fully understand their role. Basic rules should be set up at the first meeting. Some of these rules could be how to offer ideas and suggestions. Employees need to feel free and comfortable to offer differing opinions. They also must be open and respectful to other ideas they may not agree with or do not consider valuable.

Salespeople often end up managing or directing the team in collaboration. Good salespeople understand the challenges of motivating or influencing others. They typically are more resilient due to the constant rejection from customers. If a salesperson has a 30% close rate, that means 70% failure. With a more positive outlook, salespeople balance the collaboration with other groups. Salespeople are constantly dealing with conflict and are the company’s face to the customer. This experience can enhance the team dynamics when the discussion gets more intense. Valuable dialogue and discussion are all part of a productive collaboration as well.

There are several ways to motivate employees. Every company needs to understand what specific parts of the job make the employee feel happy and valued. Assuming they know what employees want without data from the employees will not work. Management must conduct surveys, meetings, interviews, etc., to determine the level of employee satisfaction.

Once management knows the factors of job satisfaction for salespeople, they need to address it promptly. Frequent and open communication will encourage quicker resolution and trust ­— for example, a company redesigning the compensation plan for their sales team. Often, management decides what is best for the company and then shares it with the team. This may work; however, the team’s acceptance is at risk if it is not aligned with their goals or understanding of their duties.

A good compensation plan involves input from management as well as the sales team. This balances profitability and opportunity for the company and the sales team. Also, the relationship is built with more trust and a higher probability of success. If an employee feels they are part of the company, they perform better.

A Harvard Business Journal study in 2016, “How to Really Motivate Salespeople” by Doug Chung, analyzed several aspects of compensation and results. The article showed research from the field where they experimented with different plans and modified approaches. One of the observations was not surprising, but very clear.

“Companies sell more when they eliminate thresholds at which salespeople’s marginal incentives are reduced. There might be problems if some reps’ earnings dramatically exceed their bosses’ or even rival a C-suite executive’s compensation, but the evidence shows that firms benefit when these arbitrary caps are removed.”

Many organizations have experienced this exact situation. It is very common, but management must consider all these scenarios in order to develop a good plan that is generally accepted.

One last thing to consider is that happy salespeople generate happy customers! There are several studies in many industries that correlate new and renewed sales directly to the salesperson’s efforts and attitude. The adverse is also true. If there is an unhappy employee, it can be perceived by the customer. This can cause instability and concern for the customer, leading to a loss in sales or fragile customer relationships.

Ed Varney is CEO of Top Line Management in Dallas, Texas. He has been an executive sales leader in the propane and natural gas industry for over 30 years. He has a Master of International Business from Rosemont College in Philadelphia. Top Line Management provides executive management consulting, sales training, professional speaker booking and sales meeting planning to global customers.


Placing Priority on the Employee