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Team Selling Today

Who are those people on the other side of the conference table? Why are they there? Why do more of my key sales meetings seem like they involve a cast of many? And why does “my guy” seem more and more powerless?

Team selling today is no longer just required for blockbuster B2B sales pitches. Whether you are a B2C home remodeler, financial advisor or surgeon; or a B2B consultant, money manager or technology provider, pivotal meetings with clients and prospects more often now involve more people – on both sides of the table.

The purpose of this post is to spotlight what’s driving this dynamic, and what you can do to adapt to this reality.

Defining Team Selling

I 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 an opportunity or retain an account.

Why Team Selling is Becoming More Common

You’re a good salesperson, so why the need to involve others?

Here are some examples of recent developments that have impacted how your customers make buying decisions:

  • Mobile communication and Wi-Fi
  • Crowd-sourced reviews (i.e., Yelp)
  • On-line discussion forums (i.e., LinkedIn interest groups)
  • 2008-09 financial crisis

The first three technology advances enable customers to gain information about their options – faster and without you. The fourth event, The Great Recession, created mistrust and heightened attention to risk and return on investment. Clients now arrive at meetings and calls ready to give all stakeholders a voice; and wanting to look behind the curtain to the people in your organization who will be doing the work after the sale.

Improving Your Team Selling Skills

So, you’re facing more stakeholders, diverse interests and higher stakes. As skilled and experienced as you are, you must realize that this task is too large to successfully manage alone.

So, how can you adapt to this reality?

  1. Acknowledge it: moving from a solo to group sales pitch jacks up the complexity. Appreciating this gets your mindset in the right place to compete for the business.
  2. 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.
  3. Understand the buying process: more decision makers equal more complexity. Each stakeholder has interests, which 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.
  4. 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; it’s also necessary if you’re going to be able to understand and influence multiple buyers.
  5. 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.

Team selling will be a fact of life again in 2017. To step up your game and results, leverage the five tips above for more successful team sales pitches and meetings.

About the Author

In addition to facilitating highly interactive Richardson workshops for sales and sales management professionals in a variety of industries, Michael is also a highly skilled Executive Sales Coach who utilizes the practical insights and strategies that he has gained throughout his career to help sales teams strengthen customer relationships, increase qualified opportunities, and grow revenue. Prior to joining Richardson, Michael spent more than 20 years with State Street Global Advisors. Under his leadership, assets under management for the business he managed grew from $8 billion to more than $100 billion. He built, developed, and managed a team of professionals covering sales, relationship management, and client support.

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