Traditionally, and in popular culture, sales professionals have had a reputation for working on their own. But the go-it-alone approach does not—and definitely should not—apply so much anymore. Many sales reps these days, particularly if they’re working B2B territory, typically are backed up by a support team. The practice of teaming up can have a huge impact on making a convoluted and complex sale not only possible, but smooth. Support teams can include everyone from technical experts on up to senior leadership staff.
Having a support team communicates a level of commitment to the client. When they know there’s a group devoted to covering all the moving parts of a sale, it reassures them that “their team” at your company is looking out for them. Only, it’s not just for the client: Sales professionals benefit from and rely upon the support and expertise of their “teammates.” When you create a support network to assist in the sales process, you’re more exposed to things like presentations and collateral, and can gain insights from, for example, product research and market-competition data.
Involving a diverse group of subject matter experts in the sales process makes good sense from a customer experience standpoint: With a team, you’re able to offer the client superior service, and more meaningfully meet their challenges with your solution. There’s also less heavy lifting when you spread the workload over the support team, so that it’s not just one rep rushing around trying to do it all.
There are always those individuals, however, who resist teaming up and instead prefer to take care of everything themselves. We see it often and can sometimes attribute it to a new person not wanting to take advantage of support because they’ve not yet learned the ways of the organization. This can be the case in a large enterprise, where you can “disappear” amid the throng of thousands of staff members spread across multiple offices. Smaller organizations naturally tend toward an “everyone pitches in” culture, where each in-process sale is front-and-center.
We’ve come across another reason for the resistance. Being outgoing and friendly are practically job requirements in sales. But believe it or not there are those in this occupation who are too reserved to get into teamwork. Then you have the folks who don’t ever want to come off as being a burden to others, or they may be too proud, or they simply cringe at the thought of asking for help. Often the culprit is the work culture—maybe there’s a lack of camaraderie, or perhaps there’s an unhealthy level of competition among the sales staff. Sales managers or directors should pay attention to what’s going on beneath the surface that might be driving reps to strike out on their own. When management encounters an issue, they need to troubleshoot it, and then repoint the needle toward support teams.
All of this is important because the No. 1 way a sales professional can shepherd in a sale is by getting the requisite support from other members of their organization. And the best way for an individual to do that is by relationship building as soon as they come onboard. In addition to making your work life happier by making those connections, you’re also building trust, which goes both ways—we must give in order to get. Be available to others in your workgroup. They need to know you’re approachable, reliable and trustworthy, and you need to know that about them. Don’t wait for them to come around—you’ll be amazed what you get when you simply ask for help along the way.
Justin Zappulla is a Managing Partner at Janek Performance Group. He has worked hand-in-hand with a global clientele across a variety of industries and business segments including technology, finance, consumer goods, healthcare and manufacturing. With extensive sales performance management and training expertise, he works with hundreds of companies to develop and implement strategic sales performance solutions. Justin has co-authored a book called Critical Selling: How Top Performers Accelerate the Sales Process and Close More Deals. Connect with him on Twitter or his website.