The ten rules of effective team selling, By Allan Boress

As a sales and marketing consultant, I strongly recommend "team selling." It 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.

The Advantages of Team Selling

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 customer:

  • Psychological Support

    Don't laugh - this is the most important benefit of going in as a team.


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    It's a lot easier to approach the selling situation in tandem, rather than alone.

    It eases the fears of the unknown and of rejection.

    There is less chance of feeling overwhelmed or double teamed in the sales interview.

    Working as a team also allows one to share and compound the joy of victory with a comrade in arms, and ease the defeat by shouldering it with someone else.

  • "Two Heads Are..."

    Having two 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.

  • Powerful Learning Opportunity

    Team selling allows the members to re hash the sales interview afterwards and discover what worked and didn't work for future reference.

  • 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.

  • Available Expertise

    By having the right team members on the sales call, questions raised by the prospective client can be answered intelligently by experts.

    The 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.

  • Overwhelm

    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.

    Wrong! Don't do anything to create fear or overwhelm on the buyers' side of the table.

    The Rules of Team Selling:

    In order to work effectively and create the desired result, certain guidelines of team selling need to be followed:

    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.

    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: Stage a "Pre Briefing": There always must be a pre-meeting briefing to discuss the agenda for the meeting and develop the correct plan of action.

    Rule #4: Hold a "De Briefing": Discuss what worked and didn't work, as well as the appropriate follow up by selected team members.

    Rule #5: Prepare Questions: Every team member should prepare three questions that are brought to the pre-briefing. At that time the most vital questions can be sorted into the agenda.

    Rule #6: Keep It To A Minimum: Only bring with those players who are absolutely necessary. Remember "Malthus' Rule of Team Selling: As one increases the number of people on a sales call arithmetically, the potentiality for problems increases geometrically!"

    Rule #7: 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 #8: 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 #9: Team Members Must Be On The Same Wavelength: Make sure everyone involved knows not to contradict other team members, or to step on their sentences. There must also be enough "space" for the client to air their concerns. Everyone must share the same goals going into the meeting.

    Rule #10: 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 Boress, CPA, CFE is the published author of 11 books on marketing and selling professional services, including a best-seller, The “I-Hate-Selling” Book now in its seventh printing and published in 7 languages. He has twice been named one of the Top 100 People in the Accounting Profession. He has trained over 200,000 people in the art of selling and personal marketing worldwide. Visit www.allanboress.com for all sorts of articles and ideas. E-mail allan@allanboress.com

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