The Five Dysfunctions of a Sales Team - Leap Innovation
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The Five Dysfunctions of a Sales Team

01 Oct The Five Dysfunctions of a Sales Team

5_dys_teamPatrick Lencioni’s widely acclaimed book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team on team building was written over a decade ago. The Great Recession has made building high-performing teams has become even more challenging than ever.

I can’t think of any other place in an organization where creating a high-performing team is important but extremely difficult. A sales manager has the pressure of hitting monthly and quarterly team (department) goals but has to have the cooperation of his sales team and the supporting departments. Sales people while highly motivated are typically concerned about hitting their individual goals and often care less about how the other sales team members are doing. After all, isn’t it a dog-eat-dog world out there?

Creating a high-performing sales team requires the same elements as all high-performing teams require:

1. Trust – when individuals on a team trust each other they know other team members ‘have their back’. Without trust members of the team will wary of anything said or actions taken. Trust is foundational to team success and the sales manager has to make this a top priority.

2. Conflict – This is about minimizing conflict but actually the willingness of team members to address conflict head on with each other. I worked eighteen years at Intel and this was called “Constructive Confrontation”. When you have a high degree of trust, then team members are willing to tackle tough issues because they know it’s not a personal attack.

3. Commitment – Getting buy-in to a team goal or decision is more than just a majority vote or striving for consensus. Both of these methods still leaves members of the team not fully committed. No commitment means no action. Intel again was exemplary in this area. In a team meeting everyone openly engaged in addressing issues, giving their reasons why they agreed or disagreed, and then agreeing after the meeting to execute the decision made by the team (this part was called “disagree and commit”). Team members need to be heard out and as a sales manager you have to make sure each individual gets that opportunity.

4. Accountability – Often we think of accountability as being the responsibility of the sales manager. However to be effective, it needs to be individual accountability to the team and each other. Teams very often have a difficult time doing this and will offer rationalizations for themselves or others. As the sales manager, you have to role model holding team members accountable and being accountable to them as well.

5. Results – Having the other 4 elements is all good but the intent is not to hold hands and sing “Kumbaya”. We have work to do and results to deliver! Establishing team goals and measuring results puts all of the other 4 elements into play to deliver results and nothing creates better morale and camaraderie than achieving outstanding team results.

I was fortunate to lead and be part of many great teams at Intel. Patrick Lencioni highlights Intel along with Microsoft and GE as having cultures that enables high-performing teams to succeed.

Is your sale team a high-performing team? If not, take your team to the next level by completing a Five Dysfunctions of a Team workshop and team assessment. Contact us today!

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