When a sales rep has to rely on other members of the company to assist on a sales call, complications can arise. Following these steps can help you improve your team selling approach and outcomes.
Horror stories abound of team selling situations where a rookie technician rambles on about excessive product details alienating the Vice President or an overly controlling sales rep refuses to let anyone else speak. There are also voluminous examples of sales managers taking over a call at the first sign of trouble for a sales rep.
In each of these situations (any many others) the team selling game plan was not established and bad outcomes occurred. Instead, consider the following steps to help you ensure that your team selling approach runs smoothly:
1. Determine the call objectives – What do you plan to accomplish on the appointment? Qualifying is different than closing. Needs analysis is different than presentation. What step of the sales process are you in at the time of the appointment? Who are the best people to have with you to accomplish your objectives? Who will participate from the prospects company? Who on your team can speak to their team member based on their function and level (financial, technical, etc.)
2. Determine the roles – Someone has to be the quarterback. Usually it’s the salesperson. In other cases, it may be the Sales Manager or a veteran technical expert. Regardless, everyone needs to know their role – who makes the introductions, who facilitates the meetings, who delegates which team member answers a particular question, who keeps the meeting on time, who makes the presentation, who handles pricing questions, who handled objections, who selects the right person to respond when no one knows what to say.
3. Have a contingency plan in place – What happens when someone unexpectedly shows up from the buyer’s side unannounced? What do you do? How do you handle a sales call that goes bad? Who on your team has the authority to end a meeting and defer to another meeting when more research or resources can be applied? In fact, sometimes a contingency plan might be as simple as, “I’m in charge when we’re on the appointment. If anything goes wrong, I’ll call on you only if I need to. Otherwise, be quiet and let me handle it”
4. Evaluate after the call – A post-call debrief is a recount of lessons learned. Team selling requires this since not everyone on the team is an official salesperson, but rather, takes part in the sales process.
- What went well? What didn’t?
- Who did we need that was not present?
- What questions did the prospect ask that were outside of our areas of expertise?
- How will handle that better next time?
Team selling is really about leadership. Whoever is in charge of the team must lead with clarity of purpose and defined goals for each appointment. Everyone must know their role and not violate the boundaries set for the call. In an unexpected situation, the leader of the team should be able to course correct as necessary without fear of team members pushing back or revealing a lack of unity in front of the prospect.