Cohesive Teamwork Pays Off

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In sales, we talk a lot about building relationships with clients. Certainly, that skill is essential to success. But I’d argue there’s another relationship equally important to cultivate: the one among members of the sales team itself.

A cohesive team can enhance members’ productivity, collaboration, camaraderie and overall sense of well-being—not to mention decrease costly and time-consuming turnover rates.

Earlier in my career, I found myself in a situation that illustrates the importance of setting a welcoming tone to a newcomer. I was attending a trade show in Philadelphia, and true to form, the salespeople were expected to spend every available minute with clients. It was an important gathering, and the company had invested heavily to send every- one there.

It was a tradition for the salespeople to gather for dinner the night before the trade show began, as this was usually our only chance to relax and spend time together before the affair began. The company had just hired a new salesperson named Charlie, a 22-year-old. I remember seeing him in the hotel lobby checking in, looking very nervous and out-of-sorts. I asked him if he would be joining the other salespeople for dinner that night. To my surprise, he didn’t know anything about our plans.

I could tell by his look that he was afraid to ask if he could come along, so I told him the arrangements and urged him to join us. Sure enough, he was in the lobby when it was time to leave and he’d already met a few of the salespeople. I introduced him to the rest.

Dinner that night was at Marrakesh, a Moroccan restaurant. There is a certain bonding that happens when a newcomer eats a meal with his elders—and this meal was no exception. We sat on the floor in a dark room and, in Moroccan style, ate with our hands. Talk about a team-building experience!

Charlie worked with us for a relatively short time. But it was obvious that the dinner at Marrakesh meant a great deal to him. He talked about it frequently and even told clients about it. He was proud and he felt valued.

You can do the same for your team’s newcomers by making sure that they feel welcome and valued from the start. Have someone there to greet a new salesperson that first day, and designate someone to take him or her to lunch the same afternoon. Continue that shepherding during the first critical days and weeks until the new salesperson feels self-sufficient and comfortable. Taking the time to mentor and guide him or her will pay a big dividend in the end. Plus, it is a natural feel-good experience to help someone, the type of feel-good that will help both the mentor and the newbie to be better salespeople. 

Rob Wardlaw, robw@, is the associate publisher of Gulfshore Business magazine.


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