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How efficient is your sales team? The words “sales” and “efficiency” together may seem like an oxymoron. B2B sales is complex, and every deal is unique. These realities, coupled with the fact that sellers only spend 28% of their week selling, present a picture of efficiency gaps.
A lack of efficiency has downstream consequences—reps can’t prioritize what matters because they’re bogged down in busy work that doesn’t help them focus on customer education and deal management.
One way to address this? Improve team collaboration.
The goal of sales team collaboration is to lift every seller to a place where they can close more deals by doing more actual selling. In fact, when they do work together, 81% of sales reps said it helped them win more. There are results behind this philosophy, and this post will reveal how creating a sales dynamic where collaboration is a foundation delivers better deal efficiency.
- What is sales collaboration?
- What is deal efficiency?
- What’s the connection between sales collaboration and deal efficiency?
- Examples of vertical vs horizontal sales collaboration
- How to improve sales team collaboration
- Improve transparency and communication
- Centralize data in one place
- The way forward with sales collaboration
What is sales collaboration?
Sales collaboration refers to the members of the revenue organization working in concert to move pipeline forward: BDRs, AEs, managers, deal desk and RevOps leaders, and those in other departments like demand generation and product. It’s an element of sales culture as much as it is a sales strategy.
What is deal efficiency?
Not to be confused with sales efficiency—a financial metric that evaluates the cost of the sales team vs its output—deal efficiency in sales factors in conversion rates, sales cycle length, and customer acquisition costs. Your deal efficiency measures the amount of effort, time, and friction that goes into getting a deal done, from the perspective of the selling organization.
What’s the connection between sales collaboration and deal efficiency?
Sales collaboration is actually quite hard due to some aspects built into the role: picture individual sellers with their own book of business or pipeline, a variable compensation driven culture, and a dash of ego.
But forgoing it is not an option. You’re competing with companies with great products, compelling marketing, and experienced sellers. Teams that collaborate are those that win.
So, how does collaboration make sales teams more efficient? It’s not just about time savings, but also about prioritization and reducing process friction.
Examples of vertical vs horizontal sales collaboration
You can think of vertical collaboration as being between different levels of the sales department, and horizontal collaboration being about working across departments:
- In vertical collaboration, SDRs or BDRs can work with AEs on qualified lead handoff. It requires detailed notes and qualification criteria information from the SDR or BDR, so you’re not making a prospect repeat themselves. If AEs don’t have all this context, they have to do more research before reaching out to the prospect, or worse: they ask dumb questions on discovery calls.
- Another vertical collaboration example is how AEs and sales managers work together on strategy. It’s essential with long buying cycles and multiple decision-makers, for AEs to get help from their manager not just on accountability, but on unblocking specific deals and drawing learnings from those. AEs must be able to lean on leadership for guidance on how to move deals forward, in a way that helps them be better sellers.
- In horizontal collaboration, the most important relationship is between sales and marketing. Marketing is helping source leads to hand off, and trying to send high-quality, low-friction prospects over the fence. Sales also depends on marketing to develop sales enablement content that will persuade the right-fit buyers that your solution is the best for their own use case. Close collaboration between sales and marketing is a pipe dream for many teams, but is always critical for maximum deal efficiency.
- Horizontal collaboration can also involve sales and customer success, as well as sales and revenue operations. After the sale, AEs transition the account to the CS team for implementation and onboarding, and RevOps defines and governs the processes of all handoffs (BDR, AE, CSM). Again, notes and information about the deal and the customer’s expectations are essential for this to be smooth. Failures here in collaborating can cause major friction and possible early churn, if customers are having to explain themselves and their goals multiple times to everyone they meet.
These are the scenarios that illustrate the thorny yet necessary problem of sales collaboration, for sales leadership (and hopefully the sales enablement team, if you have one!) to work on.
Taken together, this highly-collaborative method of “Team selling” is a proven method: bringing the unique sets of expertise, roles, and personalities together helps you win more. A review of team selling revealed that it positively affects win rates. When sales reps team up with leadership, win rates can increase by as much as 119%. Sales working with customer success improves it by up to 98%.
How to improve sales team collaboration
A culture of collaboration starts from the top: leadership must believe wholeheartedly that “many hands make light work”. From there, develop your unique collaboration strategy and translate that into tactics, SLAs, processes, and tools.
Pick the right tools and technology
Sales collaboration tools can enable better communication and alignment. (At least, the right ones do!) The ideal tool will help bridge disconnects, whether you have a remote sales team or a sales floor all in one place. Even for hybrid or in-person environments, but especially for remote ones, digital communication tools should be a priority. Yes, you can stand up at your desk and chat live about a deal across the floor, but where’s the written record of that? Not to mention, this bothers the engineers across the hall.
Another critical sales platform is your CRM, but sales and other departments must either use it consistently, or use another tool that integrates with the CRM. When this is adopted, there is a single source of truth for deal information. Have you ever been the VP Sales coming into a new company with an existing team, and none of the Opportunities have any notes on them at all? I have. Creating effective pipeline data and note logging systems, enables effective sales collaboration and pipeline reactivation because there’s no room for misconceptions, and it’s always clear how a sales process went, if you need to revisit Closed/Lost deals later.
Sales productivity tools like collaborative note-taking apps can also be beneficial for sales organizations. Getting information into the CRM is much easier with automated sales notes. They eliminate all that painful (or worse: skipped!) admin work that can take hours per week but is essential for good collaboration. Human-guided note taking automation means that scattered or nonexistent meeting notes are no longer an issue, and the entire organization can benefit from the visibility and accountability. Plus, the Head of Customer Success will probably buy you lunch once their CSMs can see the AEs’ notes before they start customer kickoff calls.
Remember: the goal of a tool is not to look pretty, to add manual work, or to buy something your friend’s company bought. The purpose is to keep salespeople working directly and productively with customers, rather than wading through admin tasks and wasting time updating management on material that should have been gathered and logged by a machine.
Improve transparency and communication
At the heart of a high-performing collaborative sales culture is trust: in leadership from reps, in reps from leadership, and between sales and other departments. Building that requires transparency and communication. The best way to be transparent is to ensure that pipeline data is accurate and accessible to stakeholders who need it, without creating extra manual work.
And communication is what supports transparency. Leaders need to demonstrate good communication habits, and request those in return from their team. In other words: consider not sending that 10pm Slack message asking, “What’s going on with this deal?” But at the same time, do create a system that makes it easy for reps to communicate necessary information to leadership, such that pipeline can be managed and forecasted accurately.
With enough transparency but not so much that it creates make-work, and good communication but not an annoying abundance of manual deal reporting, you have the foundation for a better sales culture.
Centralize data in one place
If you want sales to collaborate with other departments and improve sales performance overall, you have to have data in one place that’s accurate and complete. And you can’t just drag the AEs down with notes requests and status updates to accomplish that, either. But while this is simple in theory, it’s much harder in practice. Agree to the following tenets:
- The source of truth for centralized data is the CRM
- All stakeholders must periodically agree to review what pipeline data is the most necessary, vs what is lower priority, to avoid burdening salespeople—this will necessarily include Customer Success and/or Implementation, and likely also Finance and Marketing to a lesser extent
- Technology should be used to automatically capture and translate this data, as much as possible, into CRM
- Templates should house standardized processes used across the team, to provide a point of reference for coaching when the process wasn’t followed
- To avoid admin burden, Alignment or Review Meetings should not be the default way of giving information from Sales to other departments
Promote a culture of collaboration
Collaboration needs to be a cultural pillar, and as we mentioned before, it starts from the top down. When it is, everyone feels like they’re in it together. There’s no us vs them mentality within the sales department or between sales and customer success or marketing. Even the finance team should be rooting for sales to succeed, and balancing that with the goal of bringing in high-quality revenue. Besides improving efficiency and win rates, collaborative environments yield more engaged reps. They feel they are doing meaningful work and bonding with each other.
If you’ve been in sales long enough, you know the type of culture where you become friends and lifelong connections with your coworkers, and the type where you want nothing more than to get a commission check and not talk to a single other soul in the company. Aim to create the former.
Manage over-collaboration and reduce friction
It’s hard to escape friction and resistance, no matter how thoughtful you are about collaboration. Sales reps may have fears about having to work closely with others. They may want sales conversations to stay only under their purview or not like sharing credit; or more often, they might see collaboration as a waste of time, preventing them from doing the real work they’re supposed to be doing.
These concerns are real: “over-collaboration” is a significant problem, and equally as bad as under-collaboration. This pushback will always float up, and your best way forward is to set the tone. Stick to your vision of collaboration by advocating for transparency, communication, and support. Balance this with maintaining the notion that good communication doesn’t necessarily mean exhaustive communication, and that high-quality sales support means investing in systems that relieve them of manual admin burdens.
Set up regular alignment meetings
But not too often! And they have to be productive. Drawn-out pipeline review meetings are not the goal, and it’s even worse when these deal readout parties take the place of real 1-on-1’s and coaching sessions. Instead, alignment meetings between leadership and AEs should focus on upskilling and strategizing. While meetings between sales management, CS, and Marketing management should center around the processes and impact the sales team is having across the company, including asking for what sales needs from other departments in order to do its best work.
Here in Dooly we have a bi-weekly “What the Pipe” alignment meeting where we talk about how our marketing and product-led efforts are influencing our pipeline, as well as we get direct first-hand feedback from our sales reps on what our prospects are saying, how they’re saying it, and what can we do to improve Dooly’s discoverability.
Develop common KPIs
It’s critical to understand and measure what success looks like by the same yardstick. By defining KPIs as a group, you will all align with the company’s overall goals, and be speaking the same language. Dashboards, tools, processes, playbooks, and templates should all be informed by the most important, agreed-upon KPIs. Additionally, everyone will know the organization’s priorities and be accountable for outcomes. Front line sellers won’t be confused about what you want from them. And department heads won’t argue as much because things will be written down in alignment meetings, and shared.
In the past, I’ve even printed out these KPI documents and asked other department heads to physically wet-sign them. Perhaps I was being extreme, but the point was taken: alignment on KPIs is the most important thing you can do. To quell any fears of not wanting to make decisions that can’t be undone: be clear with everyone that these KPI alignment documents will need to be pulled out often, and referenced on an ongoing basis.
The way forward with sales collaboration
The strategy, culture, and tooling of sales collaboration holds incredible benefits for your company. When done right and not in a burdensome way, selling as a team has a direct effect on deal efficiency, and also on sales efficiency, yielding higher LTV by empowering customer success as well as lowering CAC by making AEs more productive. Reps, managers, and operators across all departments are on the same page, and they know the role they must play in sourcing, closing, and managing more customers. A collaborative culture is good for business in general, as it builds trust, respect, and rapport.
Create a dynamic blog post header image reflecting the theme of a diverse team collaborating to close a large sales account, with all members wearing business attire. Visual elements to include are the collaboration taking place in a board room with two people discussing and the others are listening.
How Dooly Can Help
Figma is a great example of the best practices described in this article. They scaled sales efficiency by saving 7.5 hours per rep in sales admin work, each week; the Dooly team has been proud to support them in creating a revenue team and a company worthy of acquisition by Adobe.
Fostering collaboration takes internal vision, focus, and the right partners. Explore how collaboration tools like Dooly can support teamwork. Request a demo today to see Dooly in action.
Join the thousands of top-performing AEs who use Dooly every day to stay more organized, instantly update their pipeline, and spend more time selling instead of mindless admin work. Try Dooly free, no credit card required. Or, Request a demo to speak with a Dooly product expert right now.