Team selling … why more can be less – a sales tip

Sales Tip

Team selling increasingly is becoming more prevalent in major sales.  And with the rise of team selling comes an interesting question: How can sales calls with multiple people be managed effectively?

We often see sales reps make sales calls with their sales managers or with a tech support people. With these sales teams of two, many issues arise around how to conduct a successful team sales call. After all, team selling is more than two people in the same room at the same time.  We have written several blogs about team sales calls like these.

But what happens when the sales team grows and there are more than two people on the call?  Over 100 years ago while French agricultural engineer Maximillien Ringelmann was experimenting with rope pulling, he discovered what is known today as the Ringlemann Effect: people’s efforts quickly diminish as team sizes increase.  Or, in other words, the more people on a team, the less effort they expend on the task because they feel less responsible for the output.

The phenomenon technically is called Social Loafing. Ringlemann’s study has been reproduced by many researchers over the years with the same results.  So let’s see what it might mean for sales.

In major sales opportunities sales calls often involve more than two people for varying reasons like the need for multiple areas of technical expertise.  So, what might sales management do to maximize performance on a large team sales call?  We know from Ringelmann that doing nothing isn’t a good option. Some ideas include:

  • Make sure all members of the team really do need to be on the call.
  • When team size is large, divide the call into manageable bits and make sure each team member knows the piece for which they are accountable.
  • Establish one team member to be a Call Manager who introduces the purpose of the call, directs traffic during the call, and summarizes the call at the end.
  • Generate a sense of urgency so team members care more about the total project as much as the individual pieces.
  • Provide feedback regularly about the process of the calls.

Winning in major accounts takes a lot of time, effort, and resources.  It also takes getting a lot of things right – being effective in large team sales calls is one small piece of that puzzle.

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©2012 Sales Horizons, LLC

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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