Team selling is the art of bringing in the right people at the right time to make prospects feel more comfortable, validate claims, and provide everything the potential customer needs to make a good decision.
Team selling is particularly effective in complex sales and key account management, where there are multiple decision makers and the perceived risk is high.
Team selling can:
- Shorten the length of the sales cycle
- Lead to larger engagements, and
- Improve long-term relationships with clients
Here’s how to get team selling right.
1. Make a Strategic Plan
The biggest mistake we see among sales organizations when it comes to team selling, is a lack of planning. Without a clear sales process and criteria for engaging subject matter experts and other team members in sales conversations, reps often approach the situation haphazardly.
This can lead to awkward moments that degrade your company’s positioning in the buyer’s eyes. For example, when the “subject matter expert” doesn’t have the knowledge the customer needs, team members contradict each other in front of the client, or the presentation appears disorganized, giving the impression that the company “doesn’t have their act together.”
It also leads to missed opportunities, when the right person could have alleviated a buyer’s uncertainty or answered a critical question.
To execute team selling effectively, it’s important to establish a clear organizational strategy for when team members should be pulled into a conversation, and how they will be involved in the process.
2. Involve the Right People
It’s critical to involve the right people when engaging in team selling. Identify specific subject matter experts within your organization who can contribute during critical points of the sales process.
Make sure each team member is adequately prepared. They should have not only the product and service knowledge needed, but also the presentation skills to deliver information to buyers.
It’s a good idea to invest in sales training for all team members to ensure they make the best possible impression.
Coach salespeople to choose their team members from the pre-identified pool based on context. For instance, in some circumstances, an executive may be able to speak to executives at the prospect company and build trust at that level; in other circumstances, an engineer may be able to answer technical questions.
The right team member will be perceived by customers as a trusted resource and help to establish credibility.
IMPACT Selling for the Complex Marketplace teaches salespeople how to leverage team selling and navigate the complex sale successfully. Request an info packet for the customized training program below.
3. Plan Again (Pre-Call Planning)
Strategic planning throughout the sales process is critical for successful team selling.
Train salespeople and others involved in the process to engage in pre-call planning as a team for each engagement.
Everyone on the team should understand the purpose of the call or meeting, where the prospect is in the buying process, what their individual role is, what topics they will be expected to cover, and what questions they may be asked.
When the team is new or the opportunity is critical or complex, it’s a good idea for the team to practice together to ensure each meeting proceeds smoothly and seamlessly.
4. Adapt Communication Styles
Everyone has a communication style they prefer to use.
When salespeople fail to recognize a buyer’s behavior style and adapt their approach to be most effective, they can unintentionally cause friction and drive a buyer away.
Train your salespeople and any client-facing team members who may be a part of the team selling environment to adapt their communication styles when engaging with buyers.
It can also be helpful to intentionally include a range of natural communication styles on your team selling lineup. One team member may be an “I” or “Influence” style, and naturally be more friendly and talkative. Another team member may be a “C” or “Compliance” style, and pay closer attention to details.
Having a balance of styles can be helpful when dealing with multiple decision makers with different communication preferences.
You can learn more about the most common buyer behavior types and how to adapt to them in this blog post.
Today’s complex selling environment often requires a team selling approach. Coach your sales team with these tips to improve their team selling acumen and increase their chances of coming out on top when the stakes are high.
IMPACT Selling® for the Complex Marketplace teaches salespeople how to navigate the complex sale with multiple layers of decision makers—ensuring they have a place at the table when buying decisions are made or RFPs are written. Learn More.
Are your salespeople prepared to navigate the decision making unit in your client or prospect’s organization? Download this Opportunity Map to help your salespeople stay organized and on track with their sales approach while dealing with multiple contacts on a buying committee.