How 3 Seattle tech sales teams balance competition and collaboration

by Quinten Dol
November 7, 2018

Sales teams operate at a crucial juncture in the tech world, shepherding a piece of software through that crucial moment when it leaves the hands of its creators and ventures into the world alone. They need an encyclopedic knowledge of marketing materials, a hint of technical expertise and — perhaps most of all — people skills.

With all those gifts of the gab in one place (and all that commission up for grabs), fostering a competitive spirit is a great way to propel sales teams to new heights. However, as three local team leaders told Built In Seattle, it’s just as important to do so in a way that’s constructive for both individual team members and the company as a whole. Here’s how they do it.


gravity payments seattle payment processing tech company
photo via gravity payments

In the world of credit card processing, low fees and responsive customer service are mainly reserved for large, corporate entities. Gravity Payments seeks to give that same level of service to independent businesses as well, offering integrations with numerous point-of-sale hardware and software systems, along with e-commerce and mobile payment solutions.

Director of Sales Rosita Barlow said the Ballard company’s mission fosters a spirit of competition with outside competitors, rather than one another.


What sets Gravity Payments’ sales team apart from others you’ve worked with?

It’s as close to team camaraderie as I’ve seen with any other company. We all have similar values and similar purpose that drive us, and at the same time, we are unique in our skill sets and our characteristics as individuals. Since that is the foundation of how we are building this organization, it does tend to stick out if there is a question as to why we are executing on a new direction — especially if it threatens our values or purpose.

Our new employees are usually set up with a mentor, a trainer and a sales manager.”


How do members of your team compete against each other?

We have a philosophy at our company that because competition is never stacked equally, there’s more of an emphasis for our sales reps to compete with themselves. This allows us to create a team environment where selling can happen individually or with another person. Our competition is not internal within our company, but with other payment processors who are taking advantage of independent businesses. There’s always a drive for competition, so in addition to our team-building activities, our co-workers tend to engage in one-on-one sports activities.


And how do your team members help each other grow?

We have programs that enable communication with all sales reps. Our new employees are usually set up with a mentor, a trainer and a sales manager. The mentor is an experienced sales rep who will lead the employee through their first three months of learning how to sell by letting them shadow and ultimately engage directly in our sales process. The sales trainer provides one-on-one coaching and continuous role-play opportunities to learn the sales process, products and the different ways to communicate with our operations teams. The sales manager is responsible for the career development of the employee and stays with them throughout his or her career. Once a new employee is established at the company, we offer weekly calls where sales reps can listen and learn about challenges and successes others are experiencing.


pushpay donation startup seattle tech company redmond
photo via pushpay

Pushpay makes it easier for customers to support nonprofit and faith-based organizations, enabling donations with the tap of a button inside the Pushpay app. Founders Chris Heaslip and Eliot Crowther started the company in New Zealand in 2011, then moved their headquarters to Redmond to tap into the North American market.

Sales Development Leader Peter Clinkenbeard had never worked in sales before coming to Pushpay, and admires the company’s willingness to invest in its people.


What sets Pushpay’s sales team apart from others you’ve worked with?

Truthfully, I never have worked with another sales team. Maybe that’s one of the things that most separates Pushpay from other companies — their willingness to promote and challenge someone without previous sales experience. I came to Pushpay with very little professional experience altogether, and I found that they poured hours and hours of work into making me an excellent rep and ultimately an excellent manager. We truly understand that finding the right people is the most essential thing to what we do, and I have never seen a company so dedicated to the growth of its employees. I would even say that it’s a non-negotiable. I have worked for non-profits and churches, and even still I have never seen an organization as centered around its people as Pushpay.

We talk about love and accountability as being two of the most essential components of our team culture.”


How do members of your team compete against each other?

People have a hunger to beat each other out. In my team we talk about love and accountability as being two of the most essential components of our team culture, so every morning we start out with a team huddle where people share their goals with the team. These goals are broadcast and shared regularly on a daily, weekly and monthly basis and people look for opportunities to celebrate each other’s wins and to be celebrated themselves. We have a “clap culture” at Pushpay that extends from when someone is fighting for a call to when they schedule their 10th appointment of the day, and people compete for that.


And how do your team members help each other grow?

We share best calls regularly with the whole team, and we look for opportunities to catch people doing things right. On my team every person has a core competency coaching plan where they are working to develop a single area of their craft, whether it’s conversations with gatekeepers or learning how to tighten their close. In team meetings, they share not only their strategies to continually improve, but evidence of it. We are constantly fostering an environment where people steal best practices from one another.


tango card egift rewards tech company west seattle
photo via tango card

Tango Card makes it easy for businesses to give rewards in the form of e-gift cards, prepaid cards and donations to non-profit organizations. The company’s reward delivery platform integrates e-gift cards into a business’ existing rewards program, and can send reward links for employees to choose their own reward.

Senior Director of Business Development Nina Carduner said her team has a lot of authority within the company, as both the product and marketing teams roll up into sales.


What sets Tango Card’s sales team apart from others you’ve worked with?

We are very collaborative as a sales team, with strong product and technical knowledge. Reps can answer most technical questions on the first call. Our team also has more organizational influence because product and marketing rolls up into the sales team. The team is empowered to advocate for customers’ needs internally. Focus on the customer’s experience is ingrained. We also genuinely believe that our solution has positive impact.

We work in an open office, which allows us to collaborate on specific deals and share insights.”


How do members of your team compete against each other?

Individual and team sales performance is transparent and available to everyone. We compete on who is making progress toward their sales plan.


And how do your team members help each other grow?

We work in an open office, which allows us to collaborate on specific deals and share insights. Our industry can be very complex across channels, countries and use-cases. All verticals are open to every sales rep, so our team is consistently cross-training and sharing new learnings.


Jobs from companies in this blog

Seattle startup guides

Best Companies to Work for in Seattle
Coolest Tech Offices in Seattle
Best Benefits at Seattle Tech Companies
Women in Seattle Tech