Team Selling - The Key to Closing 5x More
Looking for ways you and your sales team can change up current sales practices, strengthen relationships, and close more deals? Try team selling. The current B2B sales economy is becoming more saturated and complex by the day, and team selling is a great way to not only take the weight off your own shoulders but play to your teammates strength’s and work in a more collaborative nature. In this article, I will be revealing best practices in how to successfully sell as a team and close more deals in the process.
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.
What is Team Selling?
Team selling is the process of involving other departments or teams within an organization in the active sales cycle with a prospect or customer. The specific departments that can be involved can vary greatly from organization to organization and are also dependent upon the characteristics of the sale. We’ll dig into the four most common team selling combinations and what a typical interaction might look like.
Who is involved in Team Selling?
While there can be a wide variety of professionals involved in a “Team Selling” sales cycle, I’d like to cover a few of the more common types of interactions and the roles and responsibilities of those involved.
Sales Development Representatives/Account Executives - after a Sales Development Representative (SDR) sources and qualifies an opportunity, there will typically be a Discovery call where the SDR introduces the Account Executive (AE) to the prospect. This is the opportunity for the AE to further qualify the opportunity and will take ownership of the account upon qualification. Given that SDRs (generally) are looking to be promoted to an AEs, I always recommend that the SDR sits in on the Discovery call and takes notes. They are a great supporting system to the AE for note-taking and it gives the SDR a chance to consistently listen in on both good and bad Discovery calls. Plus, with the extra notes, the record is now more complete.
Account Executives/Solutions Consultants - After an opportunity is properly qualified, the next step can be a deeper dive discovery call or a product demonstration (more common). In comes the presales team - Solutions Consultants (SC) or Sales Engineers (SE). They are the bridge between sales and engineering and bring a deeper, technical understanding of the product to a discussion. Presales involvement in a product demo can vary greatly. I’ve seen SCs run 80-90% of the demo where an AE will kick off and end the call. I’ve also seen SCs only present a single feature in a product demonstration and the AE runs the call. Their involvement will vary from org to org and prospect to prospect.
Account Executives/Leadership - I’ve pulled in leadership in previous roles to help with the closing motions. This will occur after the value has been established in a product demonstration, after a proposal has been reviewed and especially when verbal commitments have been given and you’re pushing to close. It can be really useful step to gain access to additional decision makers in your prospect’s org and as a final touchpoint before signing contracts. Only utilize this if the prospect is willing to include their leadership/DM.
Account Executives/Customer Success - A really critical point in a customer’s journey is the transition from prospect to customer and the onboarding motions that occur. If the information that sales discussed with that customer is not properly transferred to the person managing the account, it can result in a really bad experience and leave your customers feeling “buyers remorse”. To ensure a smooth transition, I’ve typically included Customer Success in the sales cycle before the closing motions. It gives me the opportunity to introduce CS and ensures that they know the steps required for a successful onboarding. I’ll conduct this call after gaining a verbal yes to sign or as a way to differentiate ourselves in a competitive deal.
When you should use Team Selling?
Team selling is an incredible tool that can help you close more deals and should be utilized whenever possible. That said, there are specific circumstances where I feel Team Selling is particularly suited and should be strongly considered in some form.
Large annual contract value (ACV) - 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. Including multiple people on a sales call can be time-consuming and expensive (labor). Putting my leadership hat on, you want to build processes that are ultimately profitable, so making sure that the economics work out in your favor is essential. A simple calculation of your ACV, sales cycle, employee costs per hour, etc can give you clarity into if this is something you should adopt.
Complex product - Certainly, not all products are created equal. Some products can get completely configured in a self-service approach requiring no intervention from the team. Others are incredibly complex and can require professionals that bring a certain degree of technical expertise. I believe that more complex products are better suited for a team selling motion.
Challenging prospects - Although I don’t like to admit it, sometimes you just don’t jive with a prospect. Or maybe your champion brings in their boss that can be a handful. I’ve certainly been there before. At times, the best thing you can do to “break through” to a challenging prospect is bring in another party to help you explain things in a different light. If you’re running into this situation in a deal, try bringing in your sales counterpart as a subject-matter expert to help explain things a bit differently and break through to the prospect.
Why Team Selling works?
- Introduces new perspectives - By default, having at least two internal people on a sales call introduces new perspectives. New ways of selling, explaining the product, connecting with a prospect. Most importantly, team selling with a colleague increases your chance of making a genuine connection with your audience. It’s amazing to watch two people present the exact same thing and have a completely different reaction from their audience. Increase your chances of a connection, bring a friend.
- Builds confidence and ensures clarity - If someone tells you that they know everything about your company’s product, services, etc, they’re lying. Businesses move quickly and things change rapidly. It’s tough for even the top executives at a company to know everything. Bringing on colleagues from different departments will ensure the clarity and accuracy of your message and give your audience confidence in their decision to move forward with your company. A great place to start would be including a Customer Success Manager in a closing call. Your new customer will feel better having been introduced to the new point of contact.
- Strengthens the story - Gong recently found that “having at least one call that contains multiple participants from the seller organization correlates with a 258% higher likelihood of closing that deal”. This builds off of the above 2 points. New ways of explaining your product or service increase your chances of making a connection with your audience and helps to ensure they realize the true value. Strategic introductions of other team members in the sales cycle also makes your prospect feel like they have a deeper understanding of your organization...because they do.
Team selling can be an incredibly effective tool that can help you make better and more genuine connections with your audience and in turn, enable you to close more business, faster. One of the simplest ways to get started is by asking one of your sales or service counterparts to join a call. Set aside time with them ahead of the call and brief them on the deal and objective of the discussion. Encourage them to ask one or two questions during the call (if it’s appropriate) and see how it goes. You’d be surprised how the dynamics of the call can change in a really positive way by just adding in one more person.