Selling Teams are usually much more effective and efficient in the long run than a lone wolf sales person. However, the truth is not everyone – and especially sales people – can be a good to excellent selling team members.
I realize this sounds like I am profiling sales people as bad team players. However, after years of working with all types of sales people and selling teams, I know certain types of individuals are not comfortable in the team environment. The exact traits making a sales people effective as a territory developer can work against them in a team environment.
There are about six signals of a mismatch between sales people and being effective in a team selling environment. Those six signals are…
- Abruptness or Too Direct
Being too direct can hinder good team work as the abruptness can create tension with people who do not care for directness or confrontation. Sometimes it is more important to take your time before expressing your thoughts. Be friendly and ask about how the others are doing or what they want to see happen for the team to be successful.
- Aggressive or Hostile Communication Style
Again, direct or aggressive behavior is often seen by others as being hostile towards others on the team. While it probably is not the intent of the sales person, others perception is their reality. So, slow down and learn how to ask indirect questions, ask others about their opinions, and work the entire team. Team dynamics is a critical factor in selling team successes, so learn how to interact with others starting with your communication style.
- Lack of Facilitation Skills
Since most b2b sales people have been trained in the presentation model of selling, facilitation is not usually a strength. Presentation skills are about you telling your story and being in charge of the flow of information. Facilitation is a passive skill for the most part, whereby you ask questions and get the others engaged in dialogue. Their comments and interests are more important than you telling. The others are controlling the flow of communication, your role is to keep asking questions to keep the flow of communication going to cover the important pieces of information.
- Too Independent
B2B sales people who are established territory developers are usually very independent types who do like for others to attempt to control their destiny. I see this pattern in the motivational reports we use in assessments for sales people. Outside and fully commissioned sales people are very independent types which actually help them be successful in bringing in contracts from distant territories.
- Poor Listener
This one is big issue. Poor listening habits are harmful no only to the selling team environment, it can be a fatal flaw with their customers as well. Since most active sales people have limited or selective listening habits, this can be a major signal for poor team dynamics. When members of a team are lacking listening habits, then the common goals and objectives are also at risk. The best prepared plans can be destroyed by one or two people not listening during the planning phase.
- Lack of Business Acumen
Here I am focused upon a lack of business savvy or even an understanding about how important it can be to engage other functional areas relative to the team objectives. Possibilities include a lack of involving the legal team for contracts, technical people when establishing compatibility of systems, financial personnel when determining credit standards or payment plans or even involving a customer service manager when developing the response time for service calls or technical issues. Figure out who needs to be involved and involve them – it is called collaboration. Collaboration is a term you will need to understand and expect with involved in selling teams.
There you have some selling team signals to watch for when determining how successful your selling team will be for your company. And, yes, these signals or traits can be found in people other than sales people.
Again, be aware of these signals and nip the offender early in the process. First use the performance evaluation method to get the person to commit to improve. If not successful, find a replacement for the individual to improve the team dynamics. It can have a positive impact upon the selling team’s performance.