April 17, 2009

The lone ranger sales person rides into the sun set

No more solo performances

Increasingly organizations are turning from the ‘lone ranger’ approach to selling, to a more team based approach.  That is because in today’s complex sales environment, great solo performances are not enough.  Sales is too important just to be left to the sales person alone.

Today’s stellar performing salesperson is merely the front man.  Selling complex solutions requires the combined and coordinated efforts of a team that includes; technical, sales support, account management and other people and skills. 

Team-based Selling

They key word is team.  The multiplicity of tasks, the variety of decision making factors and the number of people involved in the decision making process, means that selling is too much for just one person.  There are no a multiplicity of roles required in any sales team.

No one person has all the information, knowledge and expertise required to single-handedly close a major deal - to navigate the customer through the different stages of increasingly lengthy and complex sales cycles, including;

-          Factfind / needs analysis
-          Developing the solution
-          Nurturing relationships and building credibility
-          Communicating the benefits
-          Calculating and Negotiating price
-          Building and validating the business case
-          Demonstrating / customizing / integrating the technology
-          Contract negotiation
-          Implementation and project management
-          Problem solving

The Team Selling Challenges

A team is not just a collection of individuals.  It is a meshing together of different skills, disciplines and even perspectives in the pursuit of a common purpose.   However, the diversity inherent in great teams, also represents one of the greatest challenges to getting people working effectively together:

       -         Different roles and backgrounds, sales and technical, for example, or even sales and marketing.  Too often the lines of demarcation can become battle lines.

       -         Different personalities and sometimes contrasting role-related stereotypes - for example the typical salesperson who is outgoing, confident and shoots from the hip, versus the typical techie who is likely to be understated, introverted and more analytical.

       -         Different disciplines, each with its associated language, methodologies and paradigms.  It is clear that most engineers and sales people think differently.  They speak and act differently too.

       -         Last but by no means least, there is the inter-personal element, the relationships, the egos, the histories and the culture.

Diversity equals strength

Diversity in the right team environment means synergy.  Different perspectives, different approach, etc. all are valuable.  But, combing them together effectively is key.  That requires matching people to the right roles and getting people to sign off the same hymn sheet.  It also requires an coach, or leader to ensure effective communication, provide encouragement, manage feedback, etc . 

Great solo performances are not enough.  If the salesperson is the trumpet, then technical is the strings section, account management is the drums, etc.  But is everybody in harmony and just who is conducting the orchestra?

No comments: