Team selling is a very powerful tool when orchestrated correctly.
Unfortunately, more often than not, team selling can backfire and cause sales to be lost, rather than won. It appears that adding each additional person to the sales team increases exponentially the chances of the sales call going south.
There are several vital advantages of working as a team when attempting to bring in a new customer or client, or to sell additional business to a client that simply cannot be accomplished when a partner goes on a sales meeting by him or herself.
But there are many risks of team selling that one must be aware of to avoid losing business; these often overshadow the advantages and result in lost sales and bad impressions. Most owners, sales managers and partners do not know what these dangers are, and as a result continue to make the same team selling mistakes over and over.
Let’s take a look at some of the rewards of team selling and some of the pratfalls. Then you might be better able to quantify the loss potential of your team and correct it.
Some Advantages of Team Selling
"Two Heads Are..."
Having two (or more) people on a sales call increases the chances of asking the important questions that need to be asked to draw the prospective customer's needs out.
It’s a Powerful Learning Opportunity
Team selling allows the members to plan, execute and then review the sales interview afterwards and discover what worked and didn't work for future reference.
It Introduces the Players
Bringing with the key people who would interact with the future client can be a powerful sales tool. If the customer likes the people she will be working with, a good portion of the sale is already made.
Dangers of Team Selling
There are several hazards of team selling that one must be aware of to avoid losing business that often overshadow the advantages and result in lost sales and bad impressions.
▪ Confusion and Loss of Credibility
How do you think prospective customers feel when they see the people selling them step over each other's sentences?
Ever have someone contradict you in front of a customer or client?
Salespeople and professionals must be perceived as effective and organized. A confusing sales call always leads to lost business opportunities.
Pretend you're the buyer. How would you feel if a company showed up with 19 people on a sales call?
Don't laugh; it's a true story.
Very often companies think the more, the merrier, applies to selling.
Don't do anything to create fear or overwhelm on the buyers' side of the table.
Some Proven Rules of Team Selling:
In order to work effectively and create the desired result, certain guidelines of team selling need to be followed. Here is a sample of the rules of the road as it applies to the art of team selling:
Rule #1: Select Team Members Carefully: Make sure there is a good chemistry amongst those going on the sales call. Don't bring with people who don't like each other. This lack of chemistry is unspoken and is always perceived by the prospective customer. Consider who the buyers are; it would be wise to match up your people with the client’s.
Rule #2: There must be an "Orchestrator": Someone should be the lead person on the interview. This person maintains order and controls the meeting, asks the majority of the questions and directs the customer's inquiries to the proper person for the best possible answers.
Rule #3: Answer Questions Succinctly: All too often sales interviews involving teams turn into "educational seminars" that not only can bore the prospective customers silly, but fail to allow enough time to get important concerns of yours answered by them.
Rule #4: Be Flexible As To Your Agenda: You may think the meeting should go one way, but the customer has another agenda in mind. Be adaptable enough to allow them to get their needs met and they will feel better about you as a provider of services.
Rule #5: Sell Something! Be committed to selling some piece of business every time you go out as a team, even if it is a sample order or a small study about a potential problem. Make your investment of time and effort pay off by getting your foot in the door for more business somehow.
Allan S. Boress, CPA, FCPA is the author of 12 published books on marketing, selling and managing the business development process for CPAs. He has consulted with over 500 professional firms and trained over 200,000 professionals since 1980. His “I-Hate-Selling” methodology is available at www.ihateselling.com