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How to Make Teamwork Work


How to Make Teamwork Work


Sean McCoy shares the second post in a series on how to incentivize teamwork. 

Our second article in a series about incentives. Incentives are powerful levers for business leaders to change behavior. Sadly, incentives are often under-utilized and mis-used tools.

Everyone pays lip service to teamwork. And with good reason, because these days, most activities, including selling, are more and more a team sport. Executives are right to ask their teams for team selling, but how many executives employ the incentives that enable team selling? In today’s dynamic competitive market for customers and for talent, smart incentives can be a competitive advantage.

A changing sales world – The act of selling is experiencing a rapid evolution. Products are more complicated and technical. Customers have all the world’s information in the palm of their hand. In B2B sales, more collaborative companies mean more stakeholders and longer sales cycles. These factors create a complex, dynamic environment that exerts stress on the old-fashioned selling model.

Team selling – In response to these changes, many companies are finding that team selling helps them navigate this new world. Salesman with more complicated products bring product engineers into the sales process early on to leverage their product expertise. Facing a growing number of client stakeholders, some companies use a wolfpack structure, where multiple salesmen work together on multiple clients, instead of each salesman focusing on just one customer.

Incentives, the missing link – Many companies will bring team selling to their organization by changing policy documents, reporting structures, meeting agendas, and other elements. But the most important thing to change is often bypassed… incentives.

Case in point – We worked with a retailer where the salesman sold a service and the operator provided that service. The salesman earned a commission for acquisitions but not retentions. Sales to existing guests were credited to the operator… who did not receive any commission for those renewals.

An answer without incentives – Unsurprisingly, acquisition and retention rates were below the industry average. This was an expensive purchase of a technical service, yet sales staff struggled to find operators willing to educate potential guests through demo’s and assessments. Salesmen expressed little interest in helping operators with renewal sales. Management changed recruiting and training and delivered many verbal and written directives and internal communications, but acquisition and retention rates stayed low.

An answer with incentives – We advised the client to introduce team-based commissions. Under this team-based incentive structure, everyone in the store received a commission from one store-wide sales number. For any one person to earn their commission, that one person must hit their individual goal and the team must hit its team goal.


Key points include:

  • Team selling
  • The missing link with incentives
  • Working for commission

Access the post, Teamwork needs team incentives to work, on