The Rise of the Team Seller

3 Apr 23

The lone-wolf style of sales is no longer effective in today's complex buying atmosphere. So, how can sales teams add more value to their companies?

Once celebrated in movies, the lone-wolf style of sales is no longer an effective approach in today's complex buying atmosphere. So how can sales teams become more successful and add value to their companies?

Collaborative Selling: The Future of Sales

During a webinar, SRG's CEO Ray Makela and Craig Simons, a growth expert at Allego, discussed several actionable tips for sales teams to make collaboration a vital part of their operations and detailed explanations of why this model is superior to the lone-wolf approach.

Here is a quick recap:

What is Collaborative Selling?

Collaborative selling is where sellers think about maximizing value across the revenue team and adding maximum value to the organization–the A players lift the B players.

Sales leadership must set expectations for mentoring and coaching, figure out the right cadence, and match the right people to transfer skills and knowledge to raise B players. Similarly, sales teams need to work as a pack, with each member doing the part they are uniquely qualified for and leveraging the team's unique talents.

Why Collaborative Selling?

The best sellers of the future are those who can contribute, coach, and bring the entire team up, not just hit their quota.

To illustrate, we can use the analogy of the killer whale. While the great white shark is a scary predator, the killer whale is the apex predator because they hunt as a team and communicate effectively.

By leveraging technology and working smarter, sales teams can become more effective, ultimately driving more revenue for their organizations.

What is Collaborative Enablement?

Collaborative enablement is critical to collaborative or team selling.

It involves collaborating among the sales team and sharing practices to raise each other in practice and during sales pursuits. One key aspect of collaborative enablement is a culture of vulnerability, where top performers lead by example by sharing their successes and mistakes. In addition, it creates a sustainable environment of trust where team members feel comfortable learning from each other.

Messaging and learning are crowd-sourced, allowing for peer-generated content, which is not only what sellers want, but also saves money by leveraging self-generated team content.

Crowd-sourcing should be done with control, where sales leadership curates the right voices and filters out less experienced or out-of-line contributions. To gauge the level of collaboration within a sales team, it’s crucial to take a pulse check, from lone-wolf sellers to orca whale-style collaboration.

What Is Collaborative Learning?

Collaborative learning is another critical component of team selling.

It can be facilitated through various activities such as QBRs (Quarterly Business Reviews) or sales kickoff meetings. These activities help get team members thinking about the topics beforehand and make the most of their time together. It can also be achieved through microlearning, real-life applications, and skill applications that allow team members to discuss and collaborate on best practices.

This peer-to-peer learning fosters healthy connections and can lead to healthy competition among team members.

Leveraging subject matter experts within the organization is critical to ensure that sales teams are well-prepared for meetings. For example, sales reps can easily handle intense technical questions by asking buyers what they want to know in upcoming meetings and bringing in the right people, such as sales engineers or top performers.

Understanding Roles and Responsibilities

Every sales team comprises individuals with different roles and responsibilities with varying degrees of influence over the sales process.

Understanding the roles and responsibilities of each team member helps the sales team leverage each member's strengths and minimize the weaknesses to achieve the best possible outcome. For example, it’s common to have multiple decision-makers when selling to complex accounts. Understanding who these decision-makers are, their level of commitment, and their influence over the deal allows the sales team to identify potential supporters, coaches, and blockers within the client organization.

A person with significant influence but negative or no commitment can be a substantial obstacle to closing the deal.

On the other hand, someone with low influence but high commitment can be a supporter or a coach who can provide access and valuable information. The sales team should identify and build relationships with all the stakeholders involved in the deal. The size and complexity of the deal will determine the pursuit plan's complexity, but the sales executive should coordinate efforts to ensure all stakeholders are identified and engaged.

After closing a deal, the sales team can learn from the implementation process to refine their craft and messaging for the next deal. Also, engaging customer success in the next pursuit and sharing lessons learned to help the team better understand the customer's voice and prepare for the next sales cycle.

Leveraging Tools and Tech to Collaborate

Collaboration between marketing and sales is essential to achieve business goals.

Using the tools available to facilitate coordination tools ensures that team members are on the same page and information is readily available to all team members. With the advent of digital sales rooms, we can now track the usage of marketing content and its success with customers. Modern sales content management platforms have provided great analytics that ties content usage by deal stage to deal advances in the CRM and even to close rates.

We also have conversation intelligence that helps us understand how buyers react to our messaging and where they are engaged or disengaged.

Sales leaders and top performers can initiate collaboration between sales and marketing. Sales advisory boards can be formed to discuss the marketing content, its delivery, and how it is being used. Recording sales meetings can help sales managers identify areas for improvement in salespeople's performance.

Sales managers need to create a safe and positive environment and explain that recording is not to catch salespeople doing things wrong but to help everyone improve. Once salespeople understand the benefits, they’ll be more willing to be recorded.

Too long, didn’t read?

  • Collaborative enablement and learning are critical components of team selling.

  • A culture of vulnerability and peer-generated content fosters healthy connections and healthy competition among team members.

  • Understanding the roles and responsibilities of each team member is essential to leverage their strengths and minimize weaknesses to achieve the best possible outcome.

  • Leverage available tools and technology to facilitate coordination between marketing and sales, gain insights into buyer behavior, and improve sales performance.

  • Always focus on improving and refining your craft and messaging based on customer feedback and lessons learned from past sales cycles.

If you’re serious about establishing a culture of collaboration, peer-to-peer learning, and constantly improving techniques, you may be interested in SRG's Collaborative Learning Experience (CLX). Learn how our CLX programs can help you improve your sales team's collaborative learning and sales performance.

Sales Training Research Report by Sales Readiness Group


We are committed to helping more companies strive towards unforgettable growth by publishing insightful content regularly. Here are more blog posts we think you might be interested in.