As a salesperson, you’re used to being a lone wolf. From digging up new clients and qualifying leads to deliver the perfect pitch and managing accounts, you do it all. And you’re used to flying solo.
But as modern businesses continue to scale and tighten up their processes, team selling often becomes the sales method of choice. It’s better at landing bigger deals. And it leverages the unique expertise of the many, not just the one.
So, what is team selling? And what do you need to know to start to use team selling today?
This guide dives into team selling and the pros and cons of this style of sales. It also outlines our four-point framework for successfully implementing team selling into your processes.
What Is Team Selling?
As the name implies, team selling is simply using two or more members of your organization to close on a deal. These team members could be from the same department (e.g., two salespeople). Or they could be from different departments (e.g., a salesperson, a developer, and a customer success specialist).
The exact makeup of your team will depend on your buyer’s problem, their use case, and much more. For instance, if your prospective buyer will be custom coding your product to integrate with their enterprise systems, including a developer on your team would make sense. On the other hand, if they’re concerned about the onboarding and implementation, a customer success specialist can help outline the process and put those fears to rest.
Team selling is excellent for handling accounts that are especially high value, have many moving parts, or are of other strategic importance.
The Ups & Downs of Team Selling
While many sales situations can benefit from a team selling approach, there are pros and cons here. Therefore, it’s essential to be informed about each to decide when team selling is a good fit.
Pros of Team Selling
- Better Understand Your Buyer’s Pain Points – With a more diverse team onboard, you’re in a better position to get at the heart of the buyer’s underlying problem. That’s because each brings their expertise to the table. A more informed team member will know which questions to ask to learn more about their needs.
- Demonstrate Benefits – Piggybacking on that last point; those experts can also communicate and demonstrate the benefits of your solution and how it solves the buyer’s problem. For example, a salesperson may be able to recite product specs. But only an engineer can handle getting deep into the weeds about technical details (which may be precisely what the buyer’s looking for).
- Greater Meeting Fluidity – Having more team members backing you up also means they can actively track down information while you’re presenting. No one has all the answers all of the time. But with a team at your back, they can search for unanswered questions, feature breakdowns, or other supplementary sales collateral. And having that information on-hand now rather than after the call can make a world of difference.
- Increases Buyer Engagement – Team selling also helps hold your buyer’s attention. Even the most charismatic salesperson is constantly battling against a lack of buyer focus. Gong found that switching things up every nine minutes or less is associated with higher close rates. Bringing in a subject matter expert resets that focus clock. And it keeps your buyers from fading out.
Cons of Team Selling
- Resource Intensive – The biggest downside to team selling is its most obvious flaw—it takes up more resources. Time spent supporting your sales pitch is time that your team members could be spending on other tasks. There’s also the time it takes to get team members up to speed on the buyer and the proposed product.
- Communication Across Departments May Suffer – While you do work for the same company, that doesn’t mean your terminology is always the same. Departments may use different terminology to describe the same situation. And that can confuse you when it comes time to pitch your product.
- Learning Curve for Most Salespeople – Many salespeople traditionally work alone. Prospecting, nurturing, closing—they’re used to doing it all. So, when these responsibilities are spread across many individuals, that can take some getting used to.
- Challenging to Assess Individual Contributions – Sales tends to be commission-based. And that can lead to some sticky situations when multiple salespeople bring on a new account. Who worked the hardest? Who had the most impact on their buying decision? And who gets the bulk of the bounty?
The 4-Point Framework for Implementing a Team Selling Approach
There’s no “right” way to implement team selling. Every industry, organization, sales strategy, and market is different. And what works for one may not align with another. However, you can do a few things to make your transition to team selling more successful.
1) Know When Team Selling Is Best
Every deal isn’t suitable for a team selling approach. While most instances can benefit from this sales style, it can be resource-intensive. Sometimes, it makes more fiscal sense to go the solo sales route.
Team selling works best for sales whales—deals that are five to ten times larger than average. And while it’s not a hard and fast rule (team selling 100% of the time may make sense for your unique business), it’s a good place to start.
For smaller deals, consider bringing on other members just for partial input (e.g., only a quick word or two from the developer or executive).
2) Build the Right Sales Team
It’s essential to align your sales team members with your audience.
Being cross functional, problem solving, shortening sales cycles and enhancing the buying process is all depending on if your team can work together.
Are your customers bringing a tech lead to the meeting? You should do the same. Is a customer experience specialist going to be in the room? Make sure your product expert is there to outline precisely how your solution looks and feels. Is the key company c-suite making an appearance? Try to get yours on board too.
A bit name or title helps, of course. But what’s more important here is providing your buyer with the info they need to get to yes. And that info comes from expertise, not just a corner office.
Remember, subject matter expertise isn’t the only thing that should come into play when building your sales team. Soft skills are an integral part of landing team selling too. So you’ll want to find team members for your sales team that are knowledgeable but also effective communicators.
Personality mixes also come into play. A great dynamic involves building off what team members are saying. It’s “yes and”-ing each other. It’s demonstrating chemistry. So be sure all team members have the skills and personalities to complement one another along the way.
3) Set Well Defined Roles
The team lead is in charge of establishing the goals of the meeting and setting the agenda. So they need to understand the buyer’s journey and your companies sales cycle. And they need to know what it takes to push the needle towards buy-in.
That’s why the lead should always be the sales rep. All pre- and post-pitch communication should move through the sales reps. And during the sales meeting, it should be the sales rep that controls the flow of the presentation and the overall sales process.
Your sales performance depends on this level of clarity in your team.
You should also set expectations for other team members. In most cases, they’ll be there to field questions related to their expertise, chime in on opportunities to add value and help uncover buried buyer needs.
4) Get On the Same Page As Your Team Members
Nothing inspires less confidence than when team members step all over each other. Corrections, confusion, and chaos indicate disorganization. And a buyer will go running for the hills if they catch a whiff of ineptitude.
That’s why it’s crucial to get team members up to speed early in the process. Brief them on the company and all the pertinent details about what they do. Rehearse the presentation multiple times beforehand. Finally, ensure everyone’s familiar with the demo technology you’ll be using.
Team selling is supposed to make closing complex deals simpler. But without proper preparation and communication, it can turn a sure thing into a downright disaster.
Earn More Wins With Team Selling
Team selling is a scalable, effective way to win bigger deals and drive more revenue from your meetings. Sure, it can take quite a bit more of a resource investment to work together with your colleagues. But when you leverage the expertise of multiple team members, you’re inspiring confidence, demonstrating professionalism, and (best of all) better helping your buyer solve their problems.
Follow the four points above when implementing a team selling model in your business and go close deals with your decision makers easier than ever before.
Finally, remember the core principles of selling still apply to every deal. All that’s changing is the number of people in your sales teams.