What Makes a World-Class Commercial Team?

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

How do you decide if your team is performing at its most effective? What techniques should you and they be adopting in order to become world-class? It takes a brave leader to reflect on the existing skills capabilities of their team and question if they are fit for purpose, but doing so displays the very leadership qualities that are necessary to develop a world-class commercial team.  Our experience tells us that world-class teams are built around:

  • a collective sense of purpose
  • shared ownership
  • team knowledge, skills and mindset.

Uspire recently asked a number of senior commercial leaders to review the function of their team based on these 3 interdependent parts.


Pleasingly, over 95% of respondents either know or think they know their company vision and what success look like: a key driver of strategic clarity. What is also apparent is the collective development of this strategy, with 43% of respondents planning strategic action plans together. A further 29% allow their team to develop their own plans, albeit aligned to the business goals, whilst 28% ether build their own plans in isolation or actually get given the plan.

Reviewing and prioritising growth goals is widely practiced, however only 36% claimed to do it at least once a month, with another 36% doing it, but less frequently. Nearly 30% either review but don’t prioritise or in fact don’t even review.


Having one common approach to managing suppliers/customers can create a slick and effective commercial team, however only 11% of respondents said they consistently apply a common approach. Over 88% of leaders said they had some elements of excellence but they lacked consistency, essential for high performance teams. Although commonality appears to be lacking, half the leaders segment suppliers/customers so they can prioritise investment, time and resources, with 36% applying segmentation but no prioritisation. Worryingly, 13% have no form of customer/supplier segmentation. However the needs of suppliers/customers are not entirely overlooked as 90% structure resource and investment to meet their needs “most of the time”.  Knowing who makes the big decisions in your supplier/customer and how decisions are made is reflective of a world-class commercial team. However over 50% of leaders only know who makes the decisions, and not how the decisions are made. This level of excellence was only demonstrated by 30% of the respondents. Aligning value proposition to meet the specific needs of suppliers/customers was demonstrated by over 75% of respondents but only 24% consistently customise it.


Effective negotiation is integral to high performing commercial teams, however only 10% claimed they have a clearly defined way of negotiating. Thirty six percent suggested the process is clear but they don’t always follow it, whilst 32% claim to having a negotiating process but the discipline around its application is lacking.


It would be fair to expect that evaluating what works and what doesn’t would be a fairly standard discipline in commercial teams. However over 1 in 4 respondents claimed not to regularly evaluate and build action plans from the outcomes.

Team Development

Motivating teams is a prerequisite for any commercial leader and this is clearly demonstrated with over 83% of leaders stating they tailor their approach to each individual. However this view was not universal and over 16% claimed not to know what motivates or how to motivate each person.

Taking time to coach and develop your team can be time well invested. But what is the correct amount of time? 50% of respondents claimed they spent less than 25% coaching their team, with 39% spending between 25-50%. Only 10% said they spent more than 50% of their time on team development.

Personal skills and networking

Leaders must also invest in their own skill development if they wish to lead effectively. It is hugely encouraging to see that nearly 60% of leaders take time to develop their skills, knowledge and capability either monthly or weekly. Indeed all respondents took an active approach to their own development with no-one doing this less frequently than monthly. In addition to personal development, leaders see the need to create a powerful and useful business network. Although 50% of respondents claimed to be well connected, there may be a need to reach beyond their immediate contact list as 44% suggested their network was mostly ex-work colleagues.


Take our free assessment tool to see if your commercial team is world class.

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