Sales may be a great career for people wishing to go it alone, but there’s evidence to prove that team selling can benefit the salesperson as well as the sales team and the company. Team tactics work when a cross-functional group is created to service the diverse needs of prospects and clients. Team composition may be as simple as a sales rep and a support person. Alternatively, representatives from sales, customer service, IT, finance, operations and management may all have roles. This all-hands-on-deck approach helps clarify who is responsible for what and gives clients a soothing sense that all the niggling details have a home.
Companies using team selling reap rewards when several disciplines work together to fulfil common goals: closing the sale, keeping the client or winning the client back. Additional benefits include a shorter selling cycle, a happier customer and unity within the company.
According to Jill Griffin, author of Customer Loyalty: How to Earn It, How to Keep It, team selling “helps establish multiple relationships and contacts between the account and vendor”. Because so many people are nurturing the account, there are fewer chances for the relationship to turn sour.
For customer comfort, name one person as the primary contact. This is likely to be the salesperson or in-house account manager. Schedule weekly meetings to address issues. In building and maintaining a team, look out for the dreaded management-by-committee curse. To avoid creating more policies and red tape (irritating for employees and customers), make sure team roles and hierarchy are well defined. Preparation is therefore a must.
To encourage players to see the upside of a partnership-driven team, set up a compensation plan that rewards all participants for a successful implementation or landed sale. You can achieve this by creating both individual and team goals – stars are rewarded for their efforts, and they win again when the team thrives.
There are several ways a cross-functional team can be a boon to entrepreneurs:
- A team enhances organisational integration: members with different backgrounds talk to each other about what they do, how and why they do it, and how it can provide value to the customer.
- It spans organisational boundaries: each team member retains his or her expertise but develops a functional literacy in other areas.
- It provides better customer value: sales teams allow for pooled intelligence.
- It keeps reps agile: the expertise of a selling team allows salespeople to thrive in a continuously changing, unpredictable business environment.