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When is Team Selling Appropriate?

Mar 5th, 2021 Business Development

Team selling as a strategy can be effective and efficient. Yet, the tactic can be misused, ill-timed, or poorly executed. How do you avoid the pitfalls and capitalize on the opportunities and synergy from team selling? 

Often, where team selling can be most impactful, the salesperson asks for team resources that don’t have a selling background. This approach can be fraught with challenges and can lead to setbacks and significant frustrations in the sales process if there isn’t an appropriate plan in place. 

Leverage team selling in these instances: 

  • Complex sales situations 

Some purchases can seem simple on the surface. Still, when purchasing decisions impact foundational brand principles, modes of operations, or are so costly that budgets get sacrificed elsewhere to make space for purchase, it’s a complex sales situation. Typically, these situations require multiple subject matter experts (SME’s) approval, input, or understanding. In this instance, you’re using team selling to create alignment, reduce friction and get in front of objections around implementation concerns. 

  • Strategic account-based implementation 

If policies, process or set-up is required; leverage a team selling approach. For organizations with advanced role-specialization, it is crucial to bring these key team members together. Team members can ask questions and address concerns on the front-end rather than bumbling the onboarding process. Team selling can help create and uncover possible modifications to a plan that can make a more seamless customer experience. 

  • Demonstrate breadth or security of a relationship 

Even if a sale isn’t overly complex, sometimes it’s beneficial to leverage a team’s depth. If the deal involves a long-term relationship, it can soothe a prospect to engage with other team members. It gives them a sense of what type of engagement to expect once they’re on the other side of a sale. 

If you’ve opted that a team sales approach is most appropriate, be sure to cover these steps to avoid issues: 

  1. Establish roles and responsibilities before the meeting. Understand who is there for what purpose. 
  2. Make proportionate recommendations. If an organization has 1-2 key players at the table, there is no reason to bring five or more players together from your team. Think of this just like pickup basketball. Make it as ‘fair’ and proportionate as possible. Psychologically, this is a much more imaginative play. 
  3. Maintain a single point of contact from each organization.  A single point of contact should be the ‘spokesperson’ on behalf of the group. Groupthink can cause delays, create confusion and ultimately be unproductive for all parties. 
    • For example, for Kicks, I run point on all of our accounts pre-sell. I’m calling the shots on who is pulled in from our team and determining the extent to which they play pre-sale. Post-sale, however, our Marketing Director or one of our Marketing Managers runs point on the account. Post-sale is the point at which that other team member ‘owns’ the relationship. To be clear, a single person should ‘own’ an external relationship at a given point. That doesn’t mean that other parties don’t contribute to that relationship. It means that the buck must stop with a single point of contact for productivity and clarity sake. 
  4. For non-salespeople on the call or meeting, be sure to establish social queues, and the lead salesperson on the account should prompt participants specifically for input. Communicate that pre-call plan. 
  5. Set a time limit, schedule, clear objectives at the onset of the meeting, and state next steps for the whole group or specific individuals at the close of a call or meeting. 

In effect, team ‘selling’ is misleading as your team planning. The process allows expertise and multi-channel touchpoints an opportunity to come together before the onboarding process takes place, creating opportunities for you and your clients. 

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