Today’s buying cycles are more like nonlinear, networked journeys. As a sales professional, it’s almost impossible to handle this complex fuzzy logic process on your own. That’s why selling is a team sport. It needs multiple people with different roles who need to work together to achieve a common goal: solving customer challenges and aspirations.
5 reasons why sales is a team sport
1. Selling is a complex process that requires different competencies.
Selling includes building relationships, qualifying, gathering insights, enriching the vision of the customer, influencing based on your strengths, negotiating and closing. Each phase of the buying cycle requires different skills and knowledge. Developing sales talent to prepare them for all these competencies takes too much time. It is too risky and it prevents companies from reaching their full potential. Collaboration between team members is the name of the game.
2. Selling is a competitive process that requires differentiation and mental strength.
In today’s crowded, noisy market, customers have many options and alternatives. The abundance of available information makes it hard to distinguish what is relevant. A salesperson can help customers by pointing out what is relevant to their business and challenges. Sales can help by visualizing what the impact will be when they use their products and services. This can help the customer to break the status quo and actively seek a solution. Only then is it the right time to talk about products and services and link those to the solution the customer has in mind. To drive the buyer towards a favorable decision, a commercial organization needs to make use of the strengths and resources of its team. This includes seeking assistance from marketing, product development, product marketing, technical experts, application engineers, and customer service.
3. Selling is a relational process that requires trust.
Customers always buy from salespeople they like, know and trust. Yet, the number of people involved in B2B buying cycles has increased to at least 5, even up to 20 people, depending on the complexity of the offering and the size of the customer’s organization. How can one person build rapport and credibility with so many people in different roles? How can one person have relevant conversations to establish long-term relationships that go beyond the transaction?
Commercial organizations have to enable a team to build relationships in parallel. Sales can be the orchestrator in this to ensure a consistent and positive customer experience throughout the buyer’s journey. That is a big change for traditional sellers, because it means they no longer own the relationship. Many people and digital touchpoints are now in play in parallel.
4. Selling is a dynamic process that requires adaptation.
Customer needs, preferences and expectations change over time. The offering evolves, the competition is changing, new competitors enter the market, sometimes with a totally new perspective. A salesperson needs to stay on top of market trends and customer feedback. This requires the team to adjust its strategy and tactics accordingly. That’s why they need to learn and grow with their team, and continuously build ‘next’ practices instead of ‘best practices’ based on these insights and lessons learned.
5. Selling is a rewarding process that requires recognition.
Salespeople work hard to achieve their goals and overcome challenges. They need to feel appreciated and valued for their efforts and contributions. The new context has a huge impact, because they no longer are the hero. It’s the team who is realizing success and failure together. That’s why they need to learn to celebrate success as a team and acknowledge their achievements, express gratitude and enjoy the fruits of the collaboration. It’s an important role for sales leaders to facilitate this, while keeping the mental resilience of the salesperson high. At the end of the day, the salesperson is like a deep striker in soccer. If they don’t score enough, the team can’t win.
5 tips on how to organize sales as a team sport
1. Define clear roles
Define clear roles and responsibilities for each team member involved in the customer journey. Make sure everyone knows what they are expected to do, when they are expected to do it and how they are expected to do it. They all need to understand how they contribute and what others in the team are expecting from them.
2. Foster communication
Establish regular communication channels and feedback mechanisms for all involved. Make sure everyone is informed, aligned and engaged with the sales goals, strategies and activities.
3. Stimulate collaboration
Create a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement. Make sure everyone respects, supports and helps each other to achieve the common goal.
4. Keep learning
Stimulate a culture of learning and development. Make sure everyone seeks, shares and applies new knowledge, skills and ideas to improve their performance.
5. Celebrate success as a team.
Cultivate a culture of recognition and appreciation among team members involved in the sales process. Make sure everyone acknowledges, praises and rewards each other for their efforts and results.
With today’s complex buying cycles, we need to have everyone on board to make the sale. Everyone is in sales and can contribute to ensure a consistent and positive customer experience in every touchpoint.