Do you ever think sales is an individual sport? We have discussed how sales can feel lonely because you are often pinned against the customer and the organization. Well, I have just the cure, selling in teams. There are a lot of advantages and a few disadvantages to selling as a team. The benefits include safety in numbers, diversification of strengths, organizational buy-in, and more active listeners. The drawback may be less personal engagement with a client and a sense of being overwhelmed.
Safety in numbers, we have discussed anxiety as a salesperson, whether it is a tough phone call, a stressful meeting, or dealing with quotas. Well, wouldn’t it be nice to share that burden? When you have more people attending a sales call with you, it makes you feel more confident that you have others experiencing the same situation as you. Besides the numbers, having more people on your team will give you confidence and force you to be more honest and sincere in your sales approach. No one wants to be perceived as not looking out for the company’s interest or feeling like a customer got the better of them in front of a group. It might make me feel more accountable for the lessons I have talked about in this blog. Peer pressure will encourage me to use the same tactics and advice I preach.
I think a SWOT (Strength Weakness Opportunities and Threats) is an excellent self-assessment tool for a salesperson. Suppose you know your weakness (which we all have), then a team can be a great way to bolster that weakness drawing on a team member who excels where you are weak. For example, I am bad at explaining and answering highly technical questions about the product I sell. While I am good for a cursory visit, if the customer or potential customer wants to have a more technical conversation, then I may field the team with an engineer who could allow me to provide a 360-degree level of service. Bringing on a team member like that can also help close a deal immediately. If I must leave a meeting to ask a technical question or say that I will have to get back to a client, I could put a potential sale at risk. Time kills a lot of deals and having a team with expertise can use time effectively.
Remember when we talked about how sales can pin you against your organization. Imagine if the organization also understands the customer’s perspective and pain points. If more people from the organization were involved in the conversations with the customers, they might see and better understand their perspectives. The more organizational buy-in you have, the better the organization can serve your client. It also shares the burden of just you explaining to everyone a customer needs.
Finally, for the strengths, you have more people listening and observing. When I leave a meeting, my best thing is to recap how it went. Well, I am typically alone in a car or at an airport. With a team, we can all talk about what we heard from the customer. We can also see what others saw such as their body language or a signal that was missed by one person but caught by someone else. Does everyone have the same opinion on how a meeting went, or is it dramatically different? People hear other things like inflection on a point or tone in conversation. Having more people who participated can provide a more accurate picture of the events that just happened. It is also a great way to get some constructive feedback on how you did in the meeting. Did I talk too much? Ask the right questions? Did I Listen? It also allows you to give feedback to your team members so you can all grow and get better.
While there can be some drawbacks, I see those as being minimal. Too many people can be a problem. Don’t bring 20 people to an office that can fit one; you only see one client. The teams have to be an appropriate size for the meeting. You could lose that personal connection, but hey, that is when you invite them out for a drink or dinner offsite so you can build that repour.
How can selling in teams help when you are a salesperson in management? It makes life a lot easier if you have a team selling your points and ideas to a constituency. If you have a team buy-in from all levels of leadership in your organization, a cohesive message is getting carried out. Also, like selling to external customers, there may be better messengers for different messages when talking to your employees. Working as a team of managers and supervisors also allows others to develop skills that will help elevate their leadership skills. One thing that can be an issue when in management is a monotone voice the same messages coming from the same person managing in a team and communicating as a team allows for different voices, so it is not the same voice all the time.
This week do me a favor by trying to take one more person on a sales call. Make it someone with a different skill set, compare notes and see if it pays off! If you like this blog, please subscribe, follow me on Twitter, and let’s connect on LinkedIn.