The term “independent sales reps” probably makes you think of lone professionals working on your behalf to sell your ad products. However, there are advantages to having these reps working as a team, and they’re the same fundamentals that guide championship athletic programs.
Independent sales reps are driven in part by competition. They thrive on capturing leads, closing deals, and outperforming other providers. The same is true of BCS-winning football teams and NBA franchises.
The difference? No one expects a quarterback to outscore the other team single-handedly. No one thinks one-on-five is a good way to play against the Los Angeles Lakers. And yet some companies have the same expectation for their independent sales reps: do every aspect of the work at a high level and provide ongoing, excellent results.
In smaller companies where staff is limited, the “divide and conquer” strategy may seem optimal, and it can work well—for a time. But we recommend that you give the team approach a try and assess the results. We’re certain you’ll see the benefits extend beyond improved ad sales.
In particular, there are three important advantages that independent sales reps get from working as a team:
1. Build relationships. Competition among individual reps who all serve the same business may generate sales for a few of them. However, this dynamic can create divisiveness and mistrust. When reps have strong professional relationships with one another, they care about the results that their team achieves. This can be just as motivating as focusing on their bottom line.
2. Learn from one other. You may have a “superstar” player: an individual sales rep who consistently outperforms others. You also likely have rookies who could benefit from additional training. A team approach lets you close the gap in performance. You can structure compensation to reward superstars for improvement among rookies, and you can also team people with different sales specialties or styles.
3. Ensure coverage. There are a lot of steps that independent sales reps have to take just to close a single prospect. Working together allows them to manage these steps simultaneously and helps them avoid missing important details. It can also make pitching prospective advertisers a more enjoyable team experience.