The thought of getting your sales, engineering and sales engineering folks around a table, collaborating, makes most of you squirm in your seats – no matter if you are a small business, an established mid-sized business, or a startup. The upside of this formula may allow your company to differentiate itself from competitors, winning more sales and building ROI. The downside is that this effort involves everyone moving one millimeter outside of their comfort level. It’s a Herculean task, I’ll admit.
Early on in my career in the pharmaceutical research and industrial B2B sales universes, I got a firm dose of that huge gap between sales and engineering and what that gap did in terms of building ROI. I worked on those cross-functional, collaborative teams. Some teams were wildly successful; others were complete disasters. You know what I am talking about. We’ve all seen “Us versus Them” mindset played out each day in our workplace – and our customers’ workplaces as well.
I decided to address the situation rather than be tsunami’d by it. While we all enjoy the Dilbert® comic, the economics of our post-2008 business ecosystem make cross-functional collaboration in sales a huge factor impacting building ROI. I recommend you address this situation as well. I’ll be providing you with a few tools to help you move one millimeter at a time, outside of your collective comfort levels.
The first order of business is to identify this Us versus Them Elephant in the Room. The elephant shows up Monday morning and sticks around all week. Your employees take that elephant home each night and over the weekend. That Elephant in the Room is a major disruption to business collaboration and business development. The Elephant is not interesting in building ROI; it is hurting your bottom line. It impedes sales productivity and engineering innovation and output. Like a bad habit, it’s time to leave that Elephant outside the door of your workplace. Where do you find the Elephant?
Collaboration Tool: Which folks in your organization are your best potential collaborators? This week, ask them to identify the Elephant in the Room. (Hint: there are quite a few sprinkled throughout your organization). What situations are impacting your team’s ability to collaborate, innovate, and close sales? How does this impact building ROI? This simple exercise might move you, and your team, that first millimeter outside of your collective comfort levels.
Share this information with each other in a round-table debrief. You may find that everyone is addressing a topic of mutual concern – building ROI – in a new manner. The outcome of the discussion may be collaborative! It’s a good way to get everyone outside of their departmental silos and discipline-driven Us versus Them mindset.
When your sales and engineering folks kick their Elephants out of the room, you’ve just created the front-end for synergy in your company’s business development strategy and building ROI.
Babette Ten Haken is a catalyst. She writes, speaks, consults and coaches about how cross-functional sales operations team collaboration revolutionizes the industrial Internet of Things value chain for customer loyalty, customer success and customer retention. She connects the dots between leadership, human capital / HR strategy and developing a data-driven, team-based workforce committed to creating enduring business outcomes. Babette’s playbook of technical / non-technical collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.