To Cooperate, or Collaborate: That is the Question

At Lessonly, we believe that when sales teams learn together, they win together more. Oftentimes, sales can feel like an individual and lonely endeavor—reps struggling uphill to reach seemingly overwhelming quotas. But our sales team has found that when we help each other improve—sales development reps, account executives, managers, directors, and even the CSO—magic happens. It’s like riding a bike: you can ride your own, but riding on a tandem with someone else makes the work lighter.

So in our business, we try to create opportunities to learn and grow together. Whether it’s practicing pitches, listening in on phone calls to offer helpful tips, or critiquing a poorly-worded email in love—these little learning opportunities help us grow. Before long, 1% improvements equate to radical success.

When designing your next sales training program, consider a popular pair of ideas from the education sector: cooperative learning and collaborative learning. While the two share many traits, they sport subtle differences that are important to consider when onboarding and training.

Cooperative Learning

Both cooperative learning and collaborative learning put aside the traditional “lecture” style of training in favor of learning in a small group. In cooperative learning, the instructor still functions as a facilitator and teacher, while offering tasks or challenges for the smaller group to perform or complete. The instructor then reviews the work of the group, serving as a gateway to the next step of the training process. Cooperative learning provides structure and checkpoints for learning, while still providing the opportunity to work together on projects and tasks. This approach can be especially useful for training new or less experienced sales team members.

In a sales context, cooperative learning environments might include:

  • Practicing pitches in a larger group, with a sales leader guiding account executives through a series of exercises.
  • Weekly training activities for sales development reps, with regular check-ins by a manager.
  • Onboarding programs for cohorts with checkpoints based on performance.

Collaborative learning

Collaborative learning is all about empowerment. Rather than a rigid structure in which the trainer maintains authority, the instructor frees the learners to complete a task or give one another feedback. With this high level of independence, collaborative learning relies on focused, mature learners to provide the drive for improvement. Oftentimes—without the limits imposed by a teacher—collaborative groups accomplish far more than initially expected, and are free to drift to topics of interest. This approach is far more useful with experienced or skilled salespeople capable of contributing to the team without an authority figure in the room.

For a sales team, a collaborative learning experience might feature:

  • Encouraging account executives to meet independently with their peers to offer feedback and constructive criticism.
  • AEs or SDRs working together to create a new sales training program.
  • Sales leadership meeting regularly to help one another improve.

Should I cooperate or collaborate?

The answer, of course, is both. Each of these methods can provide immense value for many sales teams. While cooperative learning is useful for new employee training programs, collaborative learning is essential for ongoing practice and improvement. When designing your sales team’s training program, consider how both cooperation and collaboration are put to use—your team will be better off for it.

Rethink your learning program with Lessonly

Lessonly’s team learning software helps sales, support, and growing team build and activate learning programs that help them do their best work. Want to improve your sales training program? Take a tour of Lessonly today.

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