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    The obvious benefits of taking a team approach

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    According to recent research it has been suggested that team selling increases your chances of closing a deal by more than 250% compared to selling solo.

    Team selling brings people together from across the organization and externally, with each playing a role within the sales process. This collaboration enables us to populate the team with “specialists,” who comprehensively understand the points of view of the multiple buying team members, increasing the likelihood of alignment and favorable outcomes.

    Team selling is a sales strategy commonly used in account-based selling to close more deals. Simply put, team selling is a collaborative sales approach where two or more team members work together to win business—rather than work those accounts on their own.

    Team selling may be as simple as bringing on another sales member or specialist from another department on a call to address specific concerns a client may have (e.g., manufacturing, customer service, or technical questions).

    Other times, team selling is applied as a more comprehensive strategy to handle complex deals, which might include building a more formal cross-functional team with representatives from sales, marketing, customer service, and senior leadership to collaborate throughout the sales cycle.

    Sales has traditionally been a culture of competition—with team members pitted against one another, their stats and rankings displayed on leader boards for everyone to see. But while competition has its merits, collaboration may be your new secret weapon.

    There can be no doubt that today’s commercial environment has become increasingly complex not only for sellers but also for buyers. Here are my recommendations:

    Traditional sales methods have been relegated to the annals of history

    The new, more discerning clients of today have seen to that. They now wield greater bargaining power, demand more value for money and have become more knowledgeable and professional when it comes to decision-making.” And they are looking for vendors who can be business partners, who are willing and able to share risks and who are able to properly manage the entire sales process

    This means that suppliers are now faced with rising client expectations and the need to become more flexible to the requirements of each individual client. Yet, the key to differentiation lies within these expectations since more complex buying decisions lead clients to value closer links with their suppliers.

    But be assured clients and prospects are still marching, but they are no longer marching to our drum – by “our” I mean us sellers. They have wrestled the drum away from us and they are now organizing their own marches. They decide if, and when, we are invited to join them – except at the very top end of selling, where it is a very different scenario altogether. The elite top 5% actually help plan the march, whilst the other 95% are lucky if they manage to squeeze into a place along the route.

    The best ways to cut through the noise and distinguish yourself from the competition is to make the buying process easier for your prospects and one way to do this is through team selling.

    Team selling utilizes the expertise and skills of a cross-functional sales team to focus on a buyer’s unique concerns and address those pain points clearly and effectively.

    There are several significant advantages to team selling that make it such a powerful sales strategy

    To begin with, it strengthens relationships and business partnerships through collaboration and communication.

    Team selling brings people together both within an organization as well as with its prospective clients and partners.

    More often than not, sales teams are isolated from the rest of the operations in a company. Obviously, this situation is even more likely in larger companies with bigger teams and departments that might be located in different parts of the building or in different offices altogether. This can result in interactions and communication between teams becoming infrequent.

    However, when organizations adopt a team selling approach, they construct or re-build those internal lines of communication, which increases trust between teams and makes it easier for information to flow between departments.

    When the lines of communication are opened up across teams, there are greater opportunities to collaborate and improve processes throughout the sales cycle as teams share insights and feedback. These opportunities lead to better information, resulting in better sales campaigns and even shorter sales cycles.

    To create a successful environment for team selling, all key players need to have access to the same information.

     

    Team selling gives you better insight into your buyer’s unique needs and expectations because you have the advantage of multiple perspectives and expertise. When you can anticipate buyer needs (and even provide new insights they hadn’t considered), you become a trusted advisor and partner in the process.

    Instantly, the sale isn’t just about price and contract terms, it’s about the quality of the relationship.

    I must highlight the fact that this aspect is especially powerful when collaborating with senior leadership. Executives can lend weight to your offerings and give you much wider perspectives you may not have been aware of that can strengthen your bid and lead to larger deals.

    When specialists from other teams or departments are available to answer the buyer’s questions, you are more likely to address their unique concerns with clarity and expertise – this adds considerable credibility.

    Similarly, as you draw on the expertise and insights from other team members in your organization, you ensure you ask the right questions and gather the information you need to develop a clear and full picture of your client’s needs and expectations.

    You are able to drill down to the client’s main concerns and recognize any potential road-blocks much more quickly, shortening the sales cycle while improving client satisfaction along the way.

    Team selling additionally gives you increased flexibility to tailor your offer to a buyer’s unique requirements with non-standard contract terms.

    Flexibility on price, deliverables, and other terms improve your chances of closing the deal and satisfying the client.

    As you seek out and rely on feedback, insights, and support from other team members and departments, you can develop stronger sales campaigns, build greater personal rapport with your buyers, and understand and address their needs more fully.

    All these advantages combine to develop the buyers’ confidence in your organization and to differentiate you from your competitors.

    So, what are the secrets of developing and implementing a team selling approach effectively?

    To begin with, you need clarity on the team roles – who will do what?

    Team selling isn’t simply about having just anybody on a call. To be really successful, it is imperative that you have a strategic and deliberate structure, therefore it is essential that you define each team member’s role very clearly prior to collaborating on any deal.

    As an example, before proceeding, you must clarify:

    • Who will be the client’s main point of contact
    • What each person’s assignment or responsibility is (e.g., who will take the lead on a call, who will take notes, who will lend support on questions)
    • It is also vital that you are clear about which team members will be introduced or utilized within the sales cycle and when.
    • Once you are sure about each person’s role and responsibility on the account, you will be able to ensure a smoother sales process and hopefully, seamless handoffs.

    As you construct your team, consider choosing people with the right mix of skills, experience, and expertise. Team selling is more successful when team members have complimentary skills and personalities.

    You may also need to think about establishing a clear reward system because one of the significant challenges of implementing a team-based sales structure is determining how to fairly compensate each team member.

    Historically, in traditional sales structures, competition is the life-blood. These teams reward salespeople with individual commissions but in a team selling environment, each member’s contribution is less clear. Without an appropriate compensation plan your team selling strategy is doomed to failure.

    Next, we know that team selling is often implemented to handle complex deals with a lot of moving parts and contributing players, so it is essential to create an account map.

    Visualizing your accounts helps your entire team to understand the complexity of the map, identify gaps in data, contribute their own expertise, and avoid duplicating work.

    Account mapping also gives you a clearer picture of the opportunity whilst making the sales process more efficient.

    Then we must remove any internal barriers that are likely to thwart or stifle communication between team members.

    Another potential benefit of team selling is better information-sharing. However, team communication won’t be effective if you aren’t working in the same direction. For example, to create a successful environment for team selling, you need a central repository for documentation and make sure that all key players have access to the same information.

    It is also imperative to organize regular deal reviews because feedback from a cross-functional sales team is one of the biggest advantages of team selling. Regular and timely feedback throughout the sales cycle helps sales organizations pinpoint what works and what doesn’t for each account. It contributes to a culture of continuous learning so that your sales team adapts and improves with every account.

    In conclusion

    I would say this: Team selling can be a successful strategy for many teams and situations and as you consider this approach, keep in mind that it will only be as successful as your management of it.

    I hope that you will use these recommendations to assist you in creating a solid sales structure based on trust, collaboration, and communication, which should ensure that you close larger and more profitable deals together.

    Jonathan Farrington
    Published May 24, 2020
    By Jonathan Farrington

    Jonathan Farrington is a globally recognized business coach, mentor, author, keynote speaker and sales thought leader. He is the Senior Partner of Jonathan Farrington & Associates, and CEO of Top Sales World, based in London & Paris. Jonathan is also the co-editor of Top Sales Magazine.

    Find out more about Jonathan Farrington on Twitter or LinkedIn

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