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Will Team Selling Ever Really Work?


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The answer is yes — but it’s harder than you might think to make it work. Achieving the desired results will likely come from evolution, not revolution.

“Team selling is an oxymoron!”

This was a memorable comment during a recent gathering that featured two dozen sales leaders. While this leader had been trying to encourage her sales representatives to work together more fruitfully, she was frustrated at the lack of measurable results, and beginning to consider ending the effort.

Was she right? After all, her company had driven a lot of growth and market share over the past 10 years by following a traditional sales approach, where each rep was responsible for prospecting and serving customers in their territory. Why change what’s worked?

It is true that getting results from team selling requires that it be demanded by the market in the first place. Not every company faces that demand for change. But, increasingly sophisticated customers are proliferating more and more industry segments — with more information at their disposal, less patience for mistakes and more complicated business requirements of their own — and are likely to require refinements like team selling from more suppliers over time.

Companies then need a coherent plan to overcome a wide range of real-world concerns a sales organization can have with team selling. It can be a sizable distance to travel between a traditional sales organization and a team oriented one, and the changes can feel quite disruptive. Building out a team selling model seems most effectively accomplished by breaking down the plan one step at a time. Companies that have earned strong adoption for their team selling approach have started with a few well-placed team-oriented tools and initiatives that lessen the perceived distance for their reps — and even make it worth something to them. If teams are deployed in the right customer and market segments, the potential payoff could be large — more productive reps, a competitive advantage for the company and improved profitability and customer retention.

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