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The Art of Team Selling with Slalom's Todd Sink

What if the term “sales team” became less about the sales organization itself and more about the actual structure of selling? That’s the approach Todd Sink, Managing Director of Slalom, takes with the more than 1,200 sellers he leads at the consulting firm that helps clients tackle and solve business problems. He’s even eliminated the term sales “owner”: It’s all about a team approach to selling now. Here, Sink shares his insights on team selling, making it work, and the results that are possible.

How do you define team selling?

The concept of team selling is about putting the aces in their places. What this means is getting the right people working with a client in the right role. It starts with managing the different dynamics in a sales cycle to focus on the long-term relationship with a client, the plan to win, and the plan to deliver to the client outcome. Every sales opportunity and client relationship is different. One person might be right for the relationship lead in some opportunities, while that same person may be better on the delivery side in other opportunities. The team must throw their egos aside and understand who the right person is to play the key role in each opportunity.

What does team selling look like at Slalom?

When we get an opportunity, we define three key roles. Each key role partners together to sell into our accounts — it’s a three-legged stool. The first role is the relationship lead who is thinking about the long-term relationship with that buyer. The second role is the pursuit lead who is focused on the deal structure, win themes and the path to a successful opportunity with the client. The last role is the solution lead who is responsible for discovering what and how we are going to deliver and help achieve the outcome with the client.   

By defining these three roles, we always have someone in the sales cycle thinking about the client rather than just working to close the deal. Notice that I don’t use any titles here; when we put this approach together, that was very key. Now, not everyone in the organization has the skills to play each role; this represents development opportunities for our sellers and leaders.  

How should other sales leaders should implement this a team selling approach?

The team selling approach starts with removing ego from the conversation. We do not think about slicing a credit pie and who gets what percentage of credit. If the account leader is focused on other engagements and the sales executive and practice leader have a new opportunity covered, everyone still gets credit. Obviously, we still want to track who was involved in winning the opportunity to measure success and professional development. But we’re not saying any individual was 10, 15, or 20% of the deal.

Another component to building a teaming culture is to remove the concept of “owner” from our sales culture. To do this one of the very first things that we did in our Salesforce implementation was to remove the word "owner" from every screen possible. To us, the term meant, "I own it, you don't, so I don't need your input." We replaced the word "owner" with "primary" or "lead” because you need accountability, but we also recognize there is a team behind each success. If you look at each opportunity as a sliced pie, your team will just end up fighting for the biggest slice.

What defines your sales strategy?

Our sales strategy is built using three main components. First, our sales strategy is focused on building “clients for life”; as a services firm, there are many outcomes we can create over time with our clients. The second component of the team selling strategy is “selling the Slalom way”; we need to show up as a small and nimble team with a focus on the client outcome with relevant and intriguing stories. And finally, we need to be data driven; Salesforce CRM allows us to bring forward more data, to be more insightful with our client, and provide better visibility to those leading indicators that drive tomorrow’s success.


The first question we ask with each opportunity is “What is the client outcome?” This gets the team more focused on what's important to our client versus what our capabilities are.

Can you share the results you’ve seen from a team-selling approach?

When we get the three roles working together seamlessly, we see amazing results. We have a sales executive and account leader who enjoy working together and have had many individual successes in their seven years here at Slalom. Last year, they started to focus together on a new account, and grew it from a relatively small account to one of our top 10 clients in 2016. A key to this result was their approach to team selling.

The team knew that the sales executive was invaluable to getting us in front of people we didn’t know and managing a sales cycle. Our practice and account leaders were experts in scoping and delivering work. Individually, they could all sell, but the partnership they built between sales and delivery made a big impact in how we covered the account and delivered for the client.

If you could have only one success metric, what would it be?

The number of clients we would designate as clients for life. These are clients who call us regardless of the issue, those who we work with through career changes, those who are public references for Slalom, those who help drive Slalom’s strategy, and those who give us great feedback.

Do you have a favorite business or sales book?

Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive by Harvey Mackay was the first real business book I ever read. There are some great business lessons for leading a sales team that I think about to this day.

Similar to a walk-up song, do you have a closing song?

If I’m going to a sales meeting and I want to get pumped up, I listen to the soundtrack to Rocky.  When I am starting my day with a focus on the team, I tend to listen to Journey.

The first question we ask with each opportunity is 'What is the client outcome?' This gets the team more focused on what's important to our client versus what our capabilities are.”

Todd Sink | Managing Director, Slalom

Learn More

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Making the Tricky Transition from Sales Peer to Sales Manager By Keith Rosen,
Author of "Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions"



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