If you have ever visited a farm, you probably know what we mean when we say ‘silo.’ If not, these structures store and protect bulk materials, usually grain, from the outside world. Look…
Similarly, the term ‘information silo’ is used in business to describe when information is stored in a way that others cannot access it.
Information silos are particularly common in sales departments due to the emphasis that is placed on individual success. Information is often seen as a sales person’s competitive edge, leading to purposeful withholding of information.
Information silos are counterproductive to the success of the sales team and organization as a whole. So how can we break down information silos and improve overall sales performance? We answer this question below.
A crucial aspect of any high-performing sales team is a shared vision. A sales vision is often fed down from overarching business goals, rephrased and focused in a way that makes sense in a sales environment.
For example, if your company runs marketing events, your sales team vision may be to build the leading marketing events company in Europe. Your vision may also then be broken down into achievable KPIs.
A sales vision offers your sales team a shared bond, all working together towards achieving the ultimate goal. Doing this provides the foundations of a culture of teamwork and information sharing led by the focus on a greater purpose.
Communication is the key to any high achieving sales team, and it’s even more important as technology allows these teams to be in different geographical locations.
Sales leadership should provide the team with the tools they need to easily and seamlessly share crucial sales information in the simplest way possible. The easier and less time consuming it is to share this crucial sales information, the more likely it is to happen.
Using a CRM enables this type of communication. Collaboration tools like Slack can also help to deliver a professional, but user-friendly space allocated to communication.
When delivering tools for communication, you should communicate and document how information is to be stored. Often various teams and individuals use different methods, often leading to considerable confusion and information loss.
Incentivize Team Work
Salespeople are often competitive. When that competitive nature is channeled correctly, your sales will benefit. But when competitive nature is focused on ‘beating’ others in your team, it can lead to unwanted results, such as the guarding of information that may lead to more deal wins for other members of the team.
Carefully delivering a structure of compensation and incentives that focuses on teamwork is a good way to channel competitive energy in the right direction. Although you may still offer salespeople incentives based on individual performance, you should equally incentivize the success of the team as a whole.
Build a Sharing Culture
Building a strong culture of teamwork and sharing is undeniably the best way to break down information silos. All the tools and incentives in the world won’t matter unless you can convince people that good information communication is a key part of how the business is run.
Any cultural change in an organization has to happen from the top down. Senior management must start by setting an example of trust and information exchange, prompting each level below to adopt the same practices.
Consider Information Advocates
In most businesses, the number one cause for the build-up of information silos is a simple fact that people do not have the time to communicate the information they hold. Senior members of staff likely hold a significant amount of key information, while having limited time to share it.
It should be clear to the whole team that sharing information is their responsibility. However, allocating ‘Information Advocates’ can be a good way to ensure that they are held accountable and can access the resources they need to do so.
These team members will work differently depending on the nature of your business – their fundamental role is to recognize when information needs to be collected, find that information, and offer their own time and dedicated tools to collect it.
For example, the Information Advocate in your sales team may call a brief meeting at the end of a big sale or pitch to assess and collect any relevant information, such as lessons learned or details gathered, leading to individual interviews with information holders to dig deeper.
Breaking Down Silos
Breaking down information silos can be one of the biggest challenges sales teams face. But doing so is crucial to their ongoing success. Introducing clear systems for information gathering and communication can seriously increase productivity and save time.
What do you do to avoid business silos?