The topic of team selling is a great one, and very relevant for most of our audience. Within our own business here at ASLAN, we frequently sell across teams. But there are certainly challenges for sales reps, sales leaders, system engineers, and account managers. What are those challenges and how can salespeople overcome them to close more sales and serve their customers well?
The Benefits of Team Selling
When we don’t “team sell,” it hurts our ability to win. Period.
Any significant project that we have won has involved team selling, even if it’s just a team of two individuals.
Nobody is the best at everything – even the most seasoned and experienced sales reps. Sales reps may be the best (within the sales team or sales organization) at certain things, but not at every single part in the sales process.
Let’s take it from the vague to the specific.
For example, one sales rep may crush the prospecting process, always cultivating a robust sales pipeline. Another sales rep may thrive in Discovery, uncovering stated needs and revealing problems.
The idea with team selling is to increase your chances at closing the sale or advancing the opportunity by collaborating within sales teams and other departments of your organization.
When you show up as a team in front of customers, even in a virtual sales environment, it says something about you and your company. It tells your customer that they are important, that you are willing to put in the work to earn their business and their trust.
When Do We Use Team Selling?
Team selling will be useful for salespeople in many scenarios: for complex sales, huge yearly opportunities, complicated accounts, or when your solution is not a perfect match for their problem.
It’s also a great way to get stalled opportunities back on the rails.
A few examples:
- An account executive/ account manager has expertise and strength with the customer relationship. But they may not have the technical knowledge to conduct the product demo (even virtually) as well as a systems engineer might. And the person doing the demo may not have the sales skills to ask the right questions in Discovery or engage in the relationship piece of the sale.
- If you are selling at the executive level within your customer’s organization, you may want to bring in an executive from your own organization to offer their perspective and insight.
- If the opportunity is operationally heavy, you may want to bring in your Operations leader(s) to answer specific questions for your prospect.
- You may want to bring in company lawyers to discuss contract details and/or issues with your customer.
Team selling is about putting the right person in front of the customer counterpart for the right part of the sales process, to increase the odds of communicating clearly and winning the deal.
It helps share the load. Team selling also helps sales reps learn, by watching how other team members communicate and by getting feedback on their own sales performance.
Done correctly, team selling lets your customer know that they are important. It makes them feel like they are a priority.
The Challenges of Team Selling
#1 – Being Self-Centered
I’ve spoken with many sales reps who have expressed an initial hesitation at involving someone else in their sales process. Salespeople, you may think it’s your job to take that lead and move it through the sales process on your own. When you close that deal, it’s your commission, so there may be some reluctance to share that commission by involving others in your sales process.
But I would encourage you to think about your sales opportunities that are large, complex, or stalled, and ask yourself, “Am I really using the resources within my company and my team, to help me win the business?”
Closing deals helps everyone in the company, not just individual sales reps. Don’t be afraid to request input and/ or insight from your peers. Ask for help.
Being self-centered won’t help you or your customer. Don’t let your ego or your commission get in the way of serving your customers to the best of your ability – because sometimes that means involving other people. Bring in the people that can best help your customer. Be Other-Centered®.
“Compliment your skills with people around you that can help the customer achieve what they’re trying to achieve. That would be the most Other-Centered thing you can do.”
– Scott Cassidy, ASLAN VP of Marketing
Your company may already do this well. You may have a process in place that encourages team selling, especially for large or complex deals. But if your organization doesn’t consistently utilize team selling, this is all food for thought. I would encourage you to go ahead and ask your team to help, to try team selling, whenever possible.
#2 – Confusing the Customer
Is it confusing to the customer if 3 or 4 different people are involved in the sales process? It might be… but if it takes 3 or 4 salespeople to get the job done right, that’s what needs to be done. And there are ways to do it right.
It all starts with preparation. If you’re the point person for the account, and you’re getting ready to involve a team of individuals, hold a team meeting. Get everyone together and on the same page.
Team selling is not a group of individuals working on a sale, those individual sales reps need to become an actual team. As the leader for the “team selling” project, it’s your job to give the other members the background information, expectations, strategy, and goals. Be clear on what everyone’s roles and responsibilities are. Hold your team accountable.
This is where team selling can fall apart. If the point person for the account is not clear and on top of it, deadlines might be missed, expectations not met, and the customer will become confused. The customer cannot be confused about who their contact is, who their Trusted Partner is, if you hope to advance the opportunity and earn their business.
When you show up for a presentation, you need to be clear with your team of sellers what the objective is and what their roles are. It’s like choreography. There needs to be a plan.
This is a small point that most people gloss over, but I’ve learned my lesson the hard way, a few times: introductions can be an absolute disaster.
Practice them. Make sure your team knows who is introducing themselves, when, and what should be said. Only share what is relevant to the customer. Why you are here and what your role is within the relationship. If your team doesn’t go in with a plan, you can lose so much quality presentation time in the introduction phase.
Once introductions are complete, your team needs to know what happens next, who speaks next.
How are you going to handle questions? Who answers customer questions on certain topics?
Reveal your motive. Be clear with your customer about why you brought a team of sellers. Articulate why each one of the individuals from your company is involved and how they are important to the sales process.
These are all things you need to anticipate and plan for, so that your customer doesn’t get confused by working with a team of sellers.
Your role as Consultative Seller is not to sell your solution, it’s to help your customer make a good decision. Team selling is a great way to do that. By involving people who can speak intelligently on different subjects, you are informing your customer to make the best decision.
“With the right amount of preparation and the diversity of skills that this allows to come into any deal, there’s no reason to be afraid of the team selling approach.” – Scott Cassidy
#3 – Fearing that Someone Else Does it Better
If you’re honest with yourself, when looking around your organization, there are some really good sales reps. You may be afraid that if you bring them in, you will look bad.
This is really an EQ and a maturity issue. The truth is, we get better by surrounding ourselves with people who are better than us.
I encourage all sellers I work with to get in touch with their emotional intelligence, their self-awareness socially and individually. It goes a long way towards being humble but confident in your abilities.
Don’t let this get fear of another sales rep “doing it better,” get in your way. So what if they do? You can only learn and grow through opportunities that challenge you to rise to the occasion and become a better seller.
We all have flaws, but surrounding yourself with a team of people that compliments your abilities with additional skills, is a great lesson for sales reps and sales leaders. If you try to be the smartest person in the room, you are really diminishing your chance of success.
If you want to take this idea further, go watch Brené Brown’s TED Talk on The Power of Vulnerability. It’s extremely powerful and very relevant to this topic.
There’s no shame in having deficiencies, faults, or areas to improve. We all have them. Surrounding yourself with people who do those things well will help you improve and grow.