The Evolution (and Future) of Team Selling

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Sales Tactics : 7 min read

The Evolution (and Future) of Team Selling

Team selling: when two or more members of an organization work together to close a sale.

Also team selling: leveraging company-wide knowledge by sharing it with all departments, so that anyone who comes in contact with the company’s prospects will know exactly what’s going on and can contribute to turning those prospects into paying (and happy) customers.

Relationships with our customers aren't the only types of business relationships you should be working on. Building relationships with other teams and departments within your company is equally as important.

In this post, you’ll find out why.

Selling: a brief history.

Historically, companies have put heavy or sole emphasis on individual employee performance when it comes to sales teams.

Interestingly, this concept differs completely from pretty much every other department, where things like “teamwork” are prioritized much more highly, and individuals are regularly evaluated on their performance working as part of a team.

In fact, individual sales rep performance is pushed so much that specialized management, IT systems, and even compensation plans have been built around it—aka. your typical commission structure.

Now imagine if all that specialization was actually doing more harm than good. If your company still isn’t utilizing team selling, that just might be the case—particularly in B2B sales or when you’re dealing with large accounts as opposed to individual consumers.

To this day, many sales managers like yourself are asking their sales teams questions like:

  • What does your forecast look like this month?
  • Have you seen what our competitors are doing?
  • Have you noticed any service gaps in our sales process?
questions to ask during the sales process.

But are you asking anyone else in your company these questions?

Are you asking your Customer Support team if they’ve noticed any service gaps? They’re the ones that speak to your customers after the sale, not your sales reps.

Are you asking your Marketing team what they’ve noticed your competitors are doing? Your competitors are their competitors, after all.

If you aren’t, why not?

Just imagine how valuable information like this would be to your sales reps.

So why don’t we consider these other teams as part of Sales?

Enter: team selling.

Some sales reps may hear “team selling” and be like “ugh, no thank you. I’m a strong independent sales rep who can close my own deals and bring home my own commissions.”

While this confidence is admirable, the problem with this mentality is that your reps are only thinking of their own success.

Team selling is focused entirely on the customer. This has proven to be especially effective when dealing with large accounts: having a team relaying the sales process ups your company’s credibility and shows your prospect this company genuinely cares about their business.

Team selling is the modern way to sell. If your company isn’t doing it… get with the program.

For example, Gartner’s (formerly CEB) HR practice has documented some notable stats on the impact of individual achievement on company-wide group profitability. From 2002 to 2012, the impact of individual work performance on group profitability decreased from 78% to 51%. However, the impact of individual employees actively contributing to a team increased group profitability from 22% to 49%.

And yes, these stats include sales teams.

Team selling: how it works.

Remember group projects in school?

Everyone had a role with tasks and a due date to complete those tasks. Once everyone’s tasks were complete, you’d all regroup, review each other’s work, and ensure everything lines up before submitting your assignment. Then you’d all rejoice when you got an awesome grade for a huge project you only had to do a portion of!

By splitting the workload and sharing your knowledge with one another in order to compile a final product, you worked smarter, not harder.

Plus, you learned a lot from your peers that you may never have discovered on your own.

That’s basically the idea of team selling.

As an example, let’s plan out a sales call for a new prospect, where multiple sales reps are collaborating to close the deal.

team selling example
  1. One person should lead or “project-manage” the sale. This person will be the central point of contact for the prospect. Team selling is great and all, but the prospect should know who their point person is if they have any questions, versus emailing the whole gang.
  2. Another person should be in charge of research. This person should be all over the prospect’s LinkedIn page and company website and gather any relevant notes that may help increase the chances of a successful sales call with that prospect. They should also develop call goals far in advance of the sales call and then brief the rest of the team so everyone is equipped with this knowledge beforehand.
  3. A third person can be in charge of taking notes during all sales calls, adding supporting details where necessary while on the call, and making sure nothing is missed. This person should send a recap of the call afterwards to the rest of the team so everyone is on the same page for future calls.

Prior to the sales call, everyone should get together and plan out the call so you’re all aligned when speaking with the prospect.

Team selling + technology = <3

There’s a reason why so many professionals rave about the importance of networking, some even spending thousands of dollars to attend conferences dedicated to doing so (which they’ll definitely let the world know about on LinkedIn).

That’s because relationship-building doesn’t only apply at the customer level. In fact, it starts way before that.

The most crucial networking you need to be doing is internal networking within your own organization.

And with the amount of technology we’re empowered with and all the associated benefits, there’s absolutely no reason not to be networking internally.

Programs like Skype and Slack make it possible to speak to anyone at your company within seconds. An effective CRM allows all members of an organization to be on the same page when it comes to building an equally strong relationship with customers.

Copper CRM allows multiple teams to manage the same relationship smoothly.
For example, Copper lets multiple teams that are managing the same relationship to stay on track, with the same contextual information.

By networking with their colleagues through technology, sales reps have access to invaluable knowledge and experience, empowering them to uncover new opportunities to sell more effectively.

Team selling: the future.

You know who your best sales reps are in terms of individual performance, but do you know how those reps contribute to the rest of the sales team?

Do they put their all into their own achievements or do they support those around them to achieve business and sales goals together?

If the latter, what kind of rewards systems are currently in place that are discouraging them from doing so? As a leader, how can you demonstrate to them that team performance is just as important as individual performance, and that their support in lifting their peers to their caliber is just as much an expectation as meeting their sales targets?

Don’t forget the importance of networking with peers. Have you put systems in place to allow and encourage your team to foster the sharing of knowledge with the rest of the company?

For example, the Harvard Business Review documents a manufacturing company in the aerospace industry whose managers from across the company have organized monthly meetings to go over common issues their teams face and brainstorm possible solutions to these issues.

To some, this might seem like a waste of time that could be better spent on actually making sales. In reality, however, this is a powerful way to gather knowledge, skills, and experience that individual managers might otherwise have never realized on their own.

Making meetings like these more commonplace amongst management sets a good example for your staff, showing them that building relationships with their colleagues is encouraged.

After all, relationship-building is the now, and the future.

As team selling continues to gain traction…

It’s more and more important that sales managers are thinking of the bigger picture and ensuring teams are, well, acting like teams.

This means being open to changing yourself too a sales manager: don’t just reinforce individual achievements. Facilitate the exchange of knowledge among your reps with other teams company-wide. Brainstorm ideas to move deals forward more effectively and learn different leadership techniques from your fellow managers in other departments that may be traditionally more team-focused.

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Sell together. 🤝

Want to learn more about how your team can take advantages of team selling? Download the Strategies for Team Selling ebook.