Winning the Team Sale
Team selling today is no longer required just for blockbuster business-to-business sales pitches. Whether you are in consulting, investment banking, or technology or are a financial advisor, home remodeler, or lawyer, pivotal meetings with clients and prospects now often involve more people — on both sides of the table.
In fact, according to Harvard Business Review, “…the number of people involved in B2B solutions purchases has climbed from an average of 5.4 two years ago to 6.8 today.”
Significant technology advances in recent years have enabled customers to gain information about their options faster, and without you. In addition, economic instability, geopolitical concerns, corporate scandals, and public relations blunders have created mistrust and heightened attention to risk and return on investment. Clients now arrive at meetings and calls ready to give all their stakeholders a voice and wanting to look behind the curtain to the people in your organization who will own the work after the sale.
Adapting to a Team-Based Selling Approach
We define team selling as when two or more people from an organization (and its affiliates or co-selling partners) join forces at a customer touchpoint — in-person or virtual — to advance or close an opportunity or to retain a customer.
You’re a good salesperson, so why the need to involve others? Well, you’re facing more stakeholders, diverse interests, and higher stakes. As skilled and experienced as you are, you realize that this task is impossible to successfully manage alone. So, how can you adapt to this reality?
- Acknowledge it: Moving from a solo to a group sales pitch increases the complexity. Appreciating this gets your mindset in the right place to compete for the business.
- Qualify: Selling alone requires an investment of your time only. That investment (and the complexity) jumps with each person that joins you in pursuing a deal. So, before you begin calling for reinforcements, make sure you’ve chosen the right client and deal.
- Understand the buying process: More decision makers equal more complexity. Each stakeholder has interests, and they may not align with her colleagues’. This increases your task during discovery to understand the players, their interests, how they influence each other, and with whom your competitive strengths and weaknesses lie.
- Get uncomfortable: Your survival instincts make you want to stick with your tribe, maintaining relationships with people in client organizations (and your own) that are familiar and receptive. Venturing beyond can feel uncomfortable and even dangerous; however, it’s necessary if you’re going to be able to understand and influence multiple buyers.
- Build to the task: There is no single team that resonates with every client committee. Pre-invest in a wide group of internal relationships, and engage only those who are necessary to address stakeholder interests in the deal at hand.
Your Role in Building a Winning Selling Squad
One of the things that makes team selling feel more complex than solo selling is that it demands more of you as a salesperson, that you play different roles at different times — before, during, and after a customer meeting or pitch. Team-based selling also requires a build process that runs parallel to your sales process. Here are the five stages of building a winning selling squad and your role during each:
During the stage of:
- Create, you must be a Recruiter to attract the right people at the right time to advance or close the sale;
- Organize, you transform into an Organizer to coordinate your people, your preparation, and your materials;
- Practice, you become a Director to ready your colleagues and partners to hit the mark when it counts;
- Execute, you play the team’s Captain, ensuring the game plan is executed as planned and adapted as needed;
- Regroup, you play the Reorganizer, combining slices from all the roles above to ensure follow-through and to facilitate professional growth for each team member and the unit.
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