Showstoppers…we’ve all hit them before. A specific technical detail, a question about a competitor’s feature, or a hiccup that stops a deal dead in its tracks. We’ve all been there and we all hope to avoid them at all costs. What if I told you there was a reliable way to minimize these showstoppers from coming up ever again?

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In a world with buying committees, long security processes, and competitors who all look and sound the same, being a solo seller has become a lot more challenging. Introducing specific people with different skills and expertise from your company into your sales cycle might be the solution for maintaining momentum in the ever growing complexity in today’s sales cycles.

Enter: team selling.

Why You Should Try Team Selling

1. Sell to a committee with a team.

In 2020, there are a number of big factors at play for sales reps that make team selling more attractive than ever before. First, buying cycles continue to involve more people. Harvard Business Review reported that the number of people involved in B2B purchasing decisions climbed from 5.4 people in 2015, to 6.8 people in 2017. That’s a 25% increase in the size of a buying committee in just two years.

Each person on a buying committee comes with her or his own expertise and set of unique experiences. Because each person is viewing the sale from a different perspective, they’re likely evaluating your solution on how it impacts their day-to-day. It’s important that you relate your product to their area of expertise.

For example, if you’re meeting with highly technical prospects they’ll likely want to dive into your products architecture and how it will relate to their own infrastructure. Or, they might get into the weeds and ask what rate limits are enforced when they make requests to your system, or what your service level agreement is. A situation like this is the perfect opportunity to introduce someone from your team with a technical background.

If these points haven’t convinced you yet, check out Gong.io’s research which showed that having at least one call that contains multiple participants from the sellers organizations correlates with a 258% higher likelihood to closing a deal.

2. Problem solving is a team sport.

Another factor is the core nature of sales — problem solving. As a sales rep, your job isn’t to solve every problem yourself, but rather to get the problems you encounter solved.

Selling software is more complicated than ever before. You’re working in a climate where products are complex, there is a ton of information available to prospects, and your product likely competes or needs to integrate with a variety of other third party technologies.

If you’re selling in the Marketing Technology space, you know that the problem you’re solving might also include one of 7,040 other vendors in the industry. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a specific person around from your company who’s experienced integrating, or maybe even replacing a specific vendor?

Team selling allows for your organization to unleash its institutional knowledge which in turn makes for a better buying experience, solves problems more quickly, and leads to higher win rates.

3. Self-assessment versus team-assessment.

Have you ever walked out of a meeting feeling like you did everything right? Sat down at your keyboard filled with excitement while you fire off a follow up, only to see a reply from your prospect that reads, "Thank you for your presentation today. Unfortunately, this just isn’t the right time for us. Can you follow up with us in six months?"

I think we’ve all been here. The challenge with riding solo on your sales calls is there’s only one person from your team reading the room, thinking on the fly, and looking things up as new information enters the conversation.

Having a teammate in your meeting gives you the opportunity to observe while they speak or vice versa. They can look up information on a specific feature or question while you clarify the reason behind an ask.

There have been countless times I’ve been in a meeting where no one on the team knows the answer offhand, however, one of us can quickly jump on Slack and ask the larger organization while the other teammate is actively participating.

The phrase "two is better than one" isn’t new, but for a lot of sales organizations it’s ignored.

The last, and my favorite part of having a teammate in the room, is immediate feedback. Once the meeting is over, your teammates can give you direct feedback on your performance, key insights you might have missed, or reactions from people around the room. This information is critical for self improvement, nailing the follow up, and creating an overall better experience for your prospective customers.

Who Should Be A Part of the Team

Most commonly, the revenue center of a business is a part of a team selling process. Revenue centers include sales, customer success, marketing, sales development reps, sales engineers (or solutions consultants), and executives.

However, anyone from your company can be a part of this process. For instance, if you’re fielding questions left and right about your road map, it might make sense to bring in someone from your product team. Let each unique situation and prospect request lead you to the right teammate.

How to Implement Team Selling

1. If you’re an individual contributor

Start by building relationships with your co-workers in other departments. I imagine you’ve already done this being the social butterfly you are. Once you have people you know and trust, ask them to join calls when their expertise is relevant. Personally, I will buy lunch for any of my teammates who join a sales call with me. Who doesn’t like free lunch?

Before the call make sure you give your teammate context on the situation and the specific task or talking points you’d like them to cover. Here’s a great checklist to get started:

  • Who are we meeting with? — Include information about the company they work for and their role.
  • Where are they in their decision process?
  • Key use cases they’re evaluating — How do they plan on using the product? Why are they planning on using the product? What benefits do they expect to receive from the product?
  • What topics are you covering on the call?
  • Where would you like your teammate to contribute and why? — This is a great opportunity to not only inform your co-worker, but also show them the deep respect you have for their expertise and importance to have them join you.

2. If you’re a sales leader

You need to understand if your Annual Contract Value — or annualized revenue per customer contract — can support team selling. While team selling can help in many selling environments, not all sales require a team effort. A good rule of thumb is ACV’s over $10K can normally benefit from team selling. With this said, you know your business better than any blogger or thought leader, so you can evaluate this on a case-by-case basis.

Once you’re answered that pivotal question, these steps will help get your started:

  • Align activities with incentives — Make sure everyone has skin in the game and by skin in the game I mean pay everyone involved when their efforts lead to net new revenue.
  • Determine who your leader is — This is most commonly a salesperson but this could also apply to partnerships or any other person acting as the lead of the project.
  • Make sure everyone knows their role — For example:
    • Customer Success: explain the customer onboarding process, what’s required from both parties for a successful working relationship, and instill trust in our ability to create great outcomes for customers.
    • Sales Engineering: take the prospective customer on deep dive through the platform with a goal of displaying usability and intuitiveness of the UI.
    • Product: walk the customer or prospect through our roadmap and ensure they have an understanding of where our companies focus lies.
  • Build a process that can be documented, tracked, and scaled — I think we all know the famous Peter Drucker quote, but it bears repeating, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” Start with Excel or Google Sheets — track who’s joining, what their roles are, how the conversation went (qualitative data if okay here), and lastly what the outcome is (did the opportunity progress a stage?).

In summary, there are no silver bullets in sales, but team-selling comes pretty close.

Remember that your organization is made up of extremely bright people who all hold different nuggets of knowledge about your products, competitors, and the industry at large.

If you want to accelerate your deal cycles, grow your average selling price, create better customer outcomes, and eliminate showstoppers, team selling is a great place to start.

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Originally published Jan 16, 2020 1:00:00 PM, updated January 21 2020

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Team Selling