Keeping on the Team Selling theme for another day, what are the most troublesome issues for team selling? Good question. And quite frankly, there are reasons many companies have not invested the time into creating team selling in the organizations.
This is a problem – or should I say, challenge (earlier tip on word usage, I must walk my talk :-)), that companies and sales people need to address. Why? Because in B2B Sales team selling wins more often than the lone wolf approach.
Okay, enough chatter, let’s get to the good stuff. What are the Six Primary Trouble spots keeping Team Selling from being truly outstanding? Here they are…
Six Trouble Issues for Team Selling
Seems most sales people are very direct in their behavioral style. This helps them get along with other direct people and some managers. However, when you put together cross functional teams the direct approach is too threatening for many of the other workers with indirect behavioral styles. Also, another trait of fast paced and direct sales people is they offer quick answers which sound very harsh and adrupt for others to become comfortable and trusting of the sales person. This is another case where sales people need to learn about the behavioral styles and how to flex to others using different styles – if you want effective communication and collaboration on the team.
Hostile Communication Style
While this is somewhat related to the first trouble spot there are additional factors in play. The first factor is one of those “touchy-feely” factors – do people on the team have high self-esteem. Meaning do they take everything said as a personal attack or understand the need for “robust dialogue” for all things to be covered. The second factor is body language. Facial expressions or personal habits tend to be interpreted by others in a negative way. Things like looking up and away during a discussion (This is brain thing – the person is visual and is creating a picture of what they want to discuss) or while thinking about a point they look mad or angry – without saying anything. Finally, there is the loudness factor. Basically, direct and assertive people are loud when talking while our friends the indirect people are often so quiet others wonder if they have an opinion on anything!
Poor Facilitation Skills
Again, the directness of most sales people has allowed they to become more oriented to telling or showing how things are done, rather than asking questions and listening to the opinions of others. Facilitation is a skill used to help people on a team to “self-discover” answers to problems. Thus, learning is actually accelerated and more readily accepted – really, who is going to argue with themselves? Facilitation skills are high on the competency list for teams and future managers, so learn how to do it well. They also assist you in better connecting with your customers and prospects – a two for one tip!
Lone Wolf Syndrome
Many sales people feel they work best by themselves, like a lone wolf. Well, truth is most wolves are better at hunting using a pack technique. Pack equals team, so learn from the skinny wolf and join the team. The other side of this coin is the feeling of true independence. Get over yourself. Unless you actually own the company, you are working with a team. Learn to use the strengths of others to accomplish more in a shorter period of time – this is called leverage and it makes you more productive. Join the team, the whole team and share your sales leadership.
Poor Process Knowledge
When team members and especially the lead sales person have limited knowledge or understanding of both processes and organizational structure – trouble will find you often. It is not enough to know your products and something about your customer, it is highly important to understand how things get done around your company. This includes knowing the political “black holes” that seem to eat good projects for lunch. Ask others how things move through the organization if you don’t know – they will be pleased you asked. Link the processes to the organizational structure of the company so you can see the dynamics of a smooth operating venture.
Poor Listening Skills
I left the biggest issue for last. Most sales people do not understand the importance of active listening and asking clarifying questions to truly understand what people are talking about at any time. Again, one of the behavioral style issues comes to the forefront. The direct and aggressive sales people are the ones who most often either don’t listen to what is being said by other (too busy thinking about what they will say next!) or are guilty of selective listening – only hearing the parts agreeing with their agenda. No wonder things get messed up in between operations and sales teams – no one is really listening. Well, let me modify that “no one” statement. The operations people are more likely to hear what you said, however they also can be guilty of the filtered bias – therefore missing important points they do not agree with.
As I tell both sales people and sales managers – sales and particularly b2b sales has become the most sophisticated job in the organization today. Why? Because b2b sales people have to deal with understanding themselves, then understanding how to deal with and communication correctly to other people in customer organizations and their own organizations. All this a make sales or develop an account. Interesting work – which is why we love it so.