Team selling continues to be on the rise. We’ve heard this from clients and colleagues – and now from the research front. According to a recent Corporate Executive Board (CEB) study, the individual salesperson “no longer reigns supreme”.
As the CEB authors noted: “On the most effective sales teams, particularly B2B, the individual no longer reigns supreme. Strong sellers must not merely execute their day-to-day tasks well; they also must engage with their colleagues to marshal resources, wrangle involvement, and coordinate people’s capabilities. They now rely on collective, even crowd-sourcing skills, in ways that weren’t possible just a few short years ago.”
Why is this team selling collaborative approach emerging to the forefront today? There are a number of reasons – let’s explore three.
- Transformational Market Change. First, several markets are undergoing a transformational change where the customer is demanding the salesperson brings a broader and deeper level of knowledge to the sales process.
A good case in point is the medical market where the Affordable Care Act plus other social and economic trends are transforming the health care landscape. Hospitals now expect their suppliers to become partners to help them to deal with significant challenges driven by reduction in reimbursements and changes in their care delivery models. This means to sell successfully the salesperson has to know more about knowledge areas such as: hospital economics, payment models, disease states and end-to-end supply chain costs. This requires a team – a single sales person cannot do it alone.
- Availability of Technology. Today, salespeople have available easy-to-use and powerful CRM systems and software applications that allow them to share information and insights to a degree that was hard to image even 5 years ago. Simply put, the technology enables salespeople to collaborate more effectively than ever before. So, not only is there more of a need for team selling; there is also a way.
- Sales Management Support. The frontline sales manager has always been the pivotal job for achieving sales excellence. According to the CEB authors, today’s sales managers are operating differently. Among market leaders sales managers expect and support their salespeople to leverage all the personnel resources that are available. They facilitate idea exchange across their sales teams, use collective brainstorming to figure out how to unstick stuck deals, and borrow effective approaches to talent management and sales rep development from peers in other areas of the business. Sales managers are fostering relationships with personnel outside their divisions, such as: marketing, manufacturing, tech support, and customer service, as well as, with counterparts in other sales divisions when multiple divisions inside a company sell to the same customer.
Today customers expect sales people to know more and know it at a higher level of proficiency than in times past. The higher up in the customer organization, the truer the proposition. Senior level executives expect the seller to bring fresh perspectives to help them to frame their challenges and new insights to generative alternative solutions. They want help to know more about what they don’t know – not product presentations. If this trend continues, so will the shift to team selling.
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