How Are You Collaborating?

business people meeting

This past week the word ‘collaboration’ has been on my mind. It applies to many of the challenges our world is facing today. Where I live, the provincial and municipal governments, which should be vibrant examples of partnership, are tragically miscommunicating about one of our most urgent problems – homelessness.

Listening to our premier and mayor, our ministers and councillors, I was deeply disturbed by the fact that they weren’t working together. The province is telling the city how things will happen. There’s no evidence of collaboration.

It inspired me to get out my dictionary. And it turns out, no matter our chosen profession, collaboration is essential to our success. This includes sales and customer service.

How does collaboration fit into sales and customer service? Is it something you are already doing? Or is there room for improvement? Keep reading to find out. 

‘Collaboration’ comes to us from the Latin ‘collaborare’ meaning “to work with”. In 1830 it became defined as “the act of working together, united labor”. With both our prospects and existing customers, we are at our best when we approach our conversations as collaborations.

In sales, we approach a potential client with what we believe is a solution to an existing problem they are experiencing. Our success comes from creating an open conversation that allows the prospect to share their recognition and understanding of this problem, and to listen to what they are seeking in terms of an ideal solution. Then we work together to both create and deliver that solution.

Yet so many of the sales calls I receive are simply about telling me something. My experience, knowledge and circumstances are not included in the conversation. It will come as no surprise that these calls end with my saying, “No, thank you.”

One of my recent clients is a great example of collaboration in terms of the sales training I created. Their prospective customers use an online form and submit detailed information. Within 10 minutes, a team member calls them to review that information and discover how they can be of service.

This sales process was new to me. While many of the skills I teach still applied, the nuance was very different. I had several meetings with the vice president of sales. I sent her my presentation decks ahead of time and made all the adjustments she suggested. The result was a very successful learning experience for everyone. I know that without collaboration, I would have wasted everyone’s time.

And when it comes to customer service training, the Nova Scotia SPCA is a cherished collaborator. With their recently created College of Animal Welfare, I teach a half-day course in the Veterinary Assistant Program (read more here). And I’ve created two programs for them to provide all staff with the skills to create excellent experiences for everyone who interacts with the SPCA. I could not accomplish this without collaborating with several team members, in detailed conversations and by sharing ideas.

My bit of dictionary research has helped me understand that all conversations provide the opportunity to collaborate. There is tremendous benefit to seeking out and setting aside time for great conversations with friends, family, colleagues, customers and prospects. And when given the opportunity, we want to make those conversations available to everyone.

Here’s one of my most recent collaborations on a favorite podcast, The Sales Problem Podcast. Sending out thanks to hosts Daniel Burns and Stephen Comerford for a fabulous conversation. (You can listen to it here.)

What are your experiences with collaboration? How does it impact your conversations? Share your experiences in the comment section below.

Closing a sale is the natural outcome of inspiring great conversations and listening intently to our potential customers.

This natural approach still involves a process – a plan that moves potential customers through a journey of discovery with you. So ... what's your process? And am I the right sales coach for you? Let's find out.

2 thoughts on “How Are You Collaborating?”

  1. Oh MJ I love this! So much of sales these days is merely transactional. We need to work together with our customers to discover how to solve the need, eliminate the problem, or end the pain points. Well said!

    • Thank you, Lisa. Thanks for adding this comment. Love your words – “discover how to solve”, “eliminate the problem”, “end the pain points”.


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