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Teams Make the Biggest Sales

Posted by David Couper on December 10, 2015 8:30 AM

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Many sales professionals don’t like to sell in teams. They don’t like to share information, leads, or commissions.

I understand this mentality, but not for the reasons you might think.

My son plays soccer on a U10 (age 10 and under) team, and in his league they have a number of “star” players who can take the ball from their own defensive end of the field all the way to the opponent’s goal, where they shoot and... miss.

These “stars” seldom consider the possibility of passing the ball, so their team can score and win. All they see is the glory of scoring.

In reality, the kids who move up and play at the high school, collegiate or professional level all understand that teams win, not individuals. Once stars learn to pass, they become exponentially more effective. One of my favorite plays is when a striker races downfield, passes to a teammate, and then gets the ball back and scores. In this situation, both players seem to perform selfless acts.

Here’s the secret. Neither player acted selflessly. They acted in their own interests, which means their interest in winning. They won by scoring, rather than being amateurish and racing straight for the goal.

In business, the biggest opportunities require team selling. Take financial services, for example. One professional might have the relationship, but two others have the product expertise. Still another has relationships with key influencers. High up in the firm, key executives may add needed leverage or gravitas at pivotal moments.

This sort of environment stresses out some sales professionals. They worry they won’t get credit for a sale, which means they won’t get paid at year-end. They worry about gaining or losing power.

While these fears can sometimes be grounded in reality, they can also be self-limiting beliefs. You can’t be a major player in such a firm without learning how to sell as a team. If you want to do it all yourself, you can only rise so high and only work on deals that are somewhat significant.

Last year, Harvard Business Review reported that this isn’t only true of large deals; it is where all business is heading:

From 2002 to 2012, the impact of individuals’ task performance on unit profitability companywide decreased, on average, from 78% to 51%. But the impact of employees’ “network performance” — that is, how much people give to and take from their coworkers — increased from 22% to 49%. Even in sales, network performance now accounts for about 44% of the impact.

I know this requires a leap of faith.

Try telling a ten-year-old that to win he has to pass to his teammate, whom he considers to be slower and less talented than he is. The coach tells such players, if you pass more you will score more. It’s TRUE.

When they share the work, share the openings, and share the opportunity to score, it goes so much better.  That is what my son’s team has learned, and as of today they haven’t lost a game all season.

Image: on2wheelz/Flickr

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