Team selling and the four deadly sins

Team selling

Team selling

You have a great account strategy; you’ve done a good job on the pre-call planning as a team. The sales call has been rehearsed and everyone knows their role. You as the salesperson are prepared to assume the Call Manager role.

So as the game begins things look pretty good.  But although team selling can be extremely effective it can also be tough to pull off even with great pre-calling planning.

Four traps that occur frequently during team sales calls are:

The Superstar Syndrome.  Even when sales calls have been pre-planned, rehearsed and everyone knows what they are supposed to do, sometimes salespeople, sales managers, and technical experts succumb to the Superstar Syndrome. What do they do? They take over the sales call – posing the majority of the questions and answering the majority of customer questions.

How can the Superstar Syndrome be avoided?  Even though it’s been talked about during pre-call planning, just before the call the Call Manager should remind everyone participating what the call objective is and what role they will be playing.

If it happens during the call – and it does – it is up to the Call Manager to get the call back on track in order to meet the call objectives.

Out of Left Field Questions. Even with a clear call plan that everyone agrees to, sometimes someone on the call will suddenly ask a series of unrelated questions.  Listen to what happened on this sales call.

During the call, the salesperson is discovering the customer’s requirements for a new, high-end copier. The conversation is covering why the Customer is considering upgrading its copier, usage patterns, costs, etc.  The salesperson is focusing on the business requirements behind the anticipated purchase, suddenly the technical expert asks a series of unrelated questions: “What is your current copier speed? How important is it that you increase speed by 10%? Do you see that percentage changing over the next six months?

As you can imagine, the sales call took a different turn when the technical expert began asking those questions – none of which were mentioned during pre-call planning.  The technical expert just thought as the sales call progressed they were important to know.  While real-time analysis during sales calls is effective when one person is doing the call it is harder to pull off if everyone on a team sale engages in real-time analysis.  A change of the game plan should be left to the Call Manager.

Airtime Problems.  Research tells us that in successful sales calls buyers talk more than sellers. When team selling it becomes particularly important to be aware of talk time because individual talk time is being replaced by team talk time. If each member of the sales team talks as much as they would if they were in the sales call alone, there will be no “air time” left for the buyer.

This is one of those things that is easy to understand, but difficult to do. Everyone on the sales team has a history of having their own talk time when discussing a product or learning more about what the customer needs. This means that even when intellectually aware, sales team members sometimes just inadvertently fall into the trap.

Loss of Customer Focus. When not talking, it is critical that the other members of the sales team pay undivided attention to the customer and their sales team colleague who is speaking.  Showing a lack of interest or impatience does not win the day. Even when the conversation centers on something that is not your part of the business, remember that it is all part of the deal – and that’s what the team is selling.  Don’t tune out.

Regardless of which of these traps the sales team falls into, how do you recover during a sales call? That responsibility falls on the Call Manager. At the first available opportunity, the Call Manager should summarize and then get the call back on track.

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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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