Key Questions to Consider when Implementing Team Selling

Posted on 06/20/2008 in Team Selling

Key account management often includes team selling. How do you decide if team selling is appropriate for a key account? If the answer is "yes" to any of the three factors listed below, then you should consider using team selling with your key accounts.

Factor #1: Your competitor is using "team selling" at this key account.

When done well a team will always outperform a single individual, no matter how skilled or talented that individual is. If you find out that one of your competitors is selling and servicing a key account with a team, you might wish to respond accordingly. This would be a reactive reason to use team selling, but what other alternative do you have? If you remain with the status quo, you give the advantage to your competitor. 

Factor #2: The key account requests or expects that "team selling" be used here.

Many key accounts have reduced the number of suppliers or vendors to a 'critical few', and they expect the remaining suppliers to do more for them. The customer may demand that a sales team be dedicated to them as a condition for being selected as one of the suppliers. If the customer requests that a sales team be used, this would be a customer-driven reason to use team selling.

Factor #3: You decide to take the initiative to establish "team selling" with key accounts.

Instead of being reactive or customer-driven, as described above, why not take the initiative? Quite often, key accounts require that your sales person work intensively with cross-functional groups at the account. It is not surprising that a single salesperson would have difficulty handling this complexity as well as a sales team could. Team selling could mean the critical difference between retaining and growing your business with key accounts.  This would be a strategic reason to use team selling.

How Can You Implement Team Selling?

Questions to Consider

The decision as to whether or not to use team selling forces you to ask and answer some difficult questions such as: 

  • For which key accounts should team selling be used? 
  • Who should be on the team? 
  • Who should lead the team? 
  • What support do you need from upper management?

Every aspect of your sales process and sales systems needs to be examined if team selling is to succeed.  To implement team selling means that hiring, training, compensation, organizational structure, and other factors need to be addressed. 

The Most Common Mistake

So what are the differences between successful sales teams and teams that fail? There are many factors, but in our experience, the most crucial one can be summarized by this short sentence: A group is not a team. You cannot form a sales team by simply throwing together a haphazard group of people and calling them a team. A successful sales team is a small number of people, with complementary skills, who have been selected and trained to accomplish certain objectives at a critical account.

This article provides an overview of some topics from our Team Selling and Key Account Management Workshops.