8 best practices for successful team selling

Team selling

Team selling

In major accounts there are a number of different strategic situations where a team sales call is preferred.  For example, the salesperson might want to bring along someone from top management either because of the purpose of the meeting or because of who is attending from the customer’s side.

Another common situation is when the salesperson has the relationship with the customer but given the call’s agenda, brings a person with expertise needed for the meeting – expertise such as technical, product, manufacturing, or customer service.

These are just some of the combinations that are becoming increasingly more common.

The need for team selling can also come from the increased complexity of the sale, as well as, customers using buying committees and purchasing teams.

For example, in the medical device industry companies often have salespeople in different divisions selling to the same hospital.  Hospitals are under tremendous pressure to reduce cost due to the decline in reimbursements and want to leverage their buying power.  So, while medical device companies may consider their products as separate silos, many hospitals do not.  Hospitals are now looking at their total budget commitment and the end-to-end supply chain costs and want to partner with their suppliers to reduce total cost.  This requires salespeople in different divisions planning and conducting calls together

Hospitals are not alone.   As companies increasingly look to reduce costs they want to leverage their purchasing power.  Scenarios like this one represent another type of team selling – salespeople across divisions working together to sell to a customer.

While many companies realize the potential power of sales teams from leveraging their brand to positioning the total capability of their company, many are also not effective at team selling.

Why? First, of course, salespeople cannot succeed at team selling if they are not individually good at selling.   But selling in teams requires more than just being a good salesperson. The classic trap in team selling is not having a team at the sales call.  Instead it’s just two people who happen to be in the same room at the same time. 

How can you make sure that when you’re selling as a team it’s not just two people who happen to be in the same room?

Let’s take a look at some best practices behind how successful sales teams operate.

  • Have a compelling and clear vision of the sales team’s purpose that is shared by everyone on the team.
  • Everyone must believe there is benefit to the company – and to them personally – for working as a team.
  • Because they perceive the potential benefits are significant, the team members invest the time and effort to get it right.
  • All of the roles to succeed are represented on the team and each team member is clear about their role in the team and the expectations.
  • Next, there is a call manager who orchestrates the call.
  • Sales teams often struggle making poor decisions, or making decisions by edict – led by the loudest voice because they have no process in place. Successful sales teams adopt or create rules of the road.
  • Successful sales teams adjust, adapt, and keep track. They make effective strategic adjustments as the sales team’s collective knowledge grows.
  • Last, without trust, the team members don’t believe they can count on each other. Teams like these cannot possibly achieve their shared purpose. Trust is not something that automatically happens.  The team must work at making trust happen.

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©2013 Sales Momentum®

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About Janet Spirer

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. Janet has followed two different, yet complimentary paths. First, as a B-School Professor she taught marketing, sales, and business strategy courses. She also managed a consulting practice focusing on sales productivity and marketing – working with a variety of clients ranging from Xerox to IBM. She translated those experiences into a book – “Parlez-Vous Business” – that helps sales people develop the business savvy to sell successfully. Since co-founding Sales Momentum® in 2000 with Richard Dr. Spirer received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, an M.P.A. from The University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in Economics from Brooklyn College. She holds the appointment of Professor Emeritus at Marymount University.
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