Okay, so you have been asked to lead a team selling effort for your organization. Now what do you do? What Competencies and knowledge do you need to excel in this position?
Remember Sales People are usually lone wolves who have their own territory and their own list of customers. These are the people who live by the motto – “Don’t Tread On ME!” And, they mean it.
So what will a sales person do who is now responsible for coordinating a cross functional team of people to handle a customer account – through the entire customer buying and implementation process?
Well, there are Six Primary Team Selling Leader Competencies. And here are the six competencies…
Competencies of Team Selling Leader
Knowledge of Their Own Company
We are not only talking about the history of the company, we are talking about the operation of the entire company. Who are the leaders within each functional group? Who gets things done in each functional area? The systems and processes operating the company and monitoring the data points within the organization. You must become an internal business consultant regarding your own company.
Expertise in Building & Managing Teams
This sounds simple, yet, it is one of the most difficult transitions a sales person who is new to teams to get their minds around. In the past, a sales person could be adversarial with members of their company – to get things done (the squeaky wheel concept). Now, you have to select the best team members, engage them in the needed efforts and performance, while encouraging team members every day. This is a new world for the sales person. Learning to build a smooth operating team for handling the customers of the company requires patience and a process mindset – usually not the natural strengths of most sales people. Yet, it can be learned and is a great training ground for new sales managers.
Ability to Manage Priorities and Performance
Holding each person accountable for their customer based priorities – over internal driven priorities – while guiding Standards of Performance can be mind numbing for some sales people. The key is to learn how to use measurements and matrix to track performance of others. Hold them accountable and expect them to improve their performance within a certain period of time – again, sounds like a management thing – and it is for the most part.
Coordinate Delivery and Service to Customers
Managing delivery times with the need for just in time delivery being a primary measure used by the customer to track your performance becomes a priority for you. Also, you are now the primary mover and shaker of customer service. Listening to what the customer has to say, identifying the issue or problem and solving it – quickly and to the satisfaction of the customer. Look mistakes will happen at some point. It will be your job to minimize the impact of any mistake and make certain the customer is satisfied with the solution or you will be in an open bidding battle at contract renewal time rather than being the automatic incumbent.
Again with the manage word! Okay, there are things you will need to do to improve your operations with the customer. This includes the ability to seek out ways and methods to become more efficient in the work flow, order fulfillment, accounting practices (This one is tough since the Financial Team usually has a totally different way of thinking about what is efficiency – watch out for the internal thinkers.) Here is a chance for the whole team to work together. Have team problem-solving sessions – looking for ways to improve efficiency using everyone’s knowledge and experience. Good answers come from these sessions.
This is the key to both getting things done and keeping your sanity on the job! Really, the more flexible you are, the faster you can solve problems and handle conflicts between different team members. Flexibility is a critical trait of the best leaders. Since the opposite of flexible is rigid and is the number two reason managers and leaders fail in their job, I would suggest you focus on flexibility of execution. The Common Goals and Shared Purpose of taking care of the customer needs with your products and services can remain fixed as the over arching focal point for everyone involved in the team selling program. Yet, flexibility is a key method of handling each individual member on the team – seeking out their ideas and recommendations for improvement, dealing with conflict issues between teams members and/or customer personnel. Remember, there are too many issues for you to be the expert on all matters. You must be flexible enough to rely upon your team members to give you input into best practices and ways to improve your processes.
There you have the list and explanations of the Key Competencies needed by a Team Selling Team Leader. Just think of this as your personal proving ground or practice time as a sales manager. The experience is what you will need as companies show fewer boundary lines between company and suppliers. You could have team members from the customer side of the ledger or you have people reporting to you that operate within the walls of the customer organization.