Is individual result a team effort?

While working on the induction programme for our new co-workers, I thought about different lines of business, how people are trained there and teams are formed and if being successful in sales can be accounted to individual performance.

Team buidling

Specifically I thought about how people in the military are trained in order to be willing to give their lives for the general cause (now that’s dedication!).¬†Reminiscing on this older video of survival guru Bear Grylls, where he joins the French foreign legion for a month, to experience how this is like. During the first inauguration period the superiors break you down, find your weak spots and make you blend in with the group, forcing you to give up your own personality over the group purpose. With this approach, the superiors make people hit the wall hard, sometimes very hard.

In sports, a similar tactic is followed to form a team out of a set of talented individuals. The team interest prevails over individual interests. Although it’s mostly an individual who scores in sports, it’s always a team effort.

Individual succes, team effort?

Especially in Sales, it is often forgotten that a sale is not made by one person ony, or only the Sales team. Without an organisation to back a sales representative up, without product development, marketing, staffing and accounting, sales can only go so far. It is the joint efforts that make sales excel.

I have experienced this when first starting out in my current company Copernica. There was no marketing, support, account management or accounting. Just R&D and Sales. And my production as a sales person became limited very quickly. You have only so much hours of effectiveness in a day, don’t you? ¬†And there was so much work, I didn’t have time any more to sell. Off topic: a big danger lurking; combining account management and sales (I’ll write about my experiences in this later).

On topic again: from being small and having lots of responsibilities and tasks at hand, we grew and other, new, departments arose, enabling the individuals to further specialize, or become part of a bigger team.

So no matter how good a sales person you are, sooner or later, you always need the team to back you up and support you in order to rise to a next level. have to work as a teamput the interest of the team first, in order to score.

Being great

So, interpreting Jim Collins’s Good to Great, you can be good as an individual, but you can only be great by working together as a team. Building a team is one, keeping a team successful for a long time, now that’s an accomplishment. Just take a look at the Dutch soccer team of the European Championshop of 2012. All great individuals, but only mediocre as a team. Personalities colliding, no shared goal (literally) and conflicts of interest. A recipe for disaster uphand. And so it happend.¬†Reasons for not qualifying for the second round were a.o. squad selection, formation flaws and mentality. Exactly the challenges a commercial manager faces when sculpting his team of professionals.

To reach your sales goals, every team member needs personality, persuasive power, obviously. But even more important is the ability to be humble, authentic, to take a step aside for the cause of the greater good, instead of always rampaging forward.
About the author

Over the past few years Walter van der Scheer has been evangelizing marketing automation to advertising agencies, e-commerce companies and co-workers alike and has been building a team of determined sales professionals. He has made progress, but the road ahead is still very long. Walter shares his personal experiences and challenges along the road of changing the way that marketing is done, while trying to stick to the strategically chosen path.

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