There are many benefits to using a team-selling approach, not to mention a team typically outperforms an individual 9 out of 10 times.
In the strategic selling cycle, we are often faced with the decision to sell to a customer individually or as a team. Having been through both scenarios for several years, I would highly recommend the team-based selling approach, and there are many reasons for this recommendation:
- Divide the Workload — In preparing for the presentation, you are able to divide the workload between many people. This helps prevent one individual from pulling an all-nighter the day before the presentation. It also helps educate many of those individuals who will be involved in the execution phase of the project with the baseline design assumptions.
- Introduction to the Presentation Process — It is a great opportunity to introduce new employees into the presentation process to not only listen and learn, but to participate in some fashion. Often the more junior employees are tasked with putting together the PowerPoint. Learning this process helps to make sure the new employees have the most current slide deck and linked videos. It also builds their confidence to do their own presentations.
- Different Perspectives — When practicing the presentation you are drawing on several different internal perspectives and experience levels to try and anticipate key customer questions and decision criteria.
- More Participation Equals Better Solutions — When internal team members and key suppliers participate in the selling process they are more engaged and can offer better technical solutions and options. Suppliers will also be much more willing to provide additional discounts or a more competitive price if they have invested time and better understand the risks associated with the project.
- During the Presentation— While delivering the actual presentation, there are huge advantages to using a team-based approach:
- One person doesn’t have to speak all the time, so it allows team members time to think and provides better real time, creative problem solving.
- If you have built your team properly, you will have several experts in various technical disciplines who you can draw upon:
- System layout and design
- Consulting: Throughput, capacities, manning…
- Sr. management
- Project management
- Key suppliers and subcontractors
- A junior person can record the notes and follow-up action items.
- All of your key, internal team members can hear any remarks straight from the customer on what is necessary for your team to be successful. This leads to a more focused response and better price negotiations.
- Several bright minds will be better able to field the unique questions the customer mentions. Similar to the currently popular “crowd sourcing” on the Internet, the collective brainpower of a team will most always out perform an individual.
- Bringing in a team shows the customer that this is an important project to your company.
- People buy from people they like. With a team, there is a higher probability that you will get more matches in personality, and the customer will be more confident in your team members and their abilities.
- If one person is having trouble answering a question, several members of the team can step in and carry the discussion if needed, allowing the initial person to gather his or her thoughts.
Regardless of the many positives to team-based presentations, they are not a silver bullet guaranteeing a successful sell. There are still several fundamentals that must be performed well:
- The Right Team — You have to select the right team members who will work well together and have the breadth of knowledge to satisfy the customer’s requirements. Often times, this is a mix of both senior and junior employees with different technical skill sets.
- The Closer — You must still have an astute “closer” that understands the politics of a strategic sell and who the customer’s key decision makers are in the room.
- Qualify the Opportunity — You must properly qualify the opportunity before you even begin the pre-sales process.
- Division of Responsibilities — There has to be good leadership and division of duties in preparation of the presentation. Roles and responsibilities for specific PowerPoint slides need to be distributed several days in advance of the actual presentation so each player can get ready for his or her performance.
- Gain Customer Confidence — The customer has to come away from your presentation feeling that not only is your solution technically superior and price competitive, but you have a great group of people with whom they would like to work.
Team-based selling will definitely take more resources and be more costly than individual selling, but in my experience, the team out performs the individual 9 out of 10 times and wins the order.