What is team selling – and how can you make it a competitive advantage to win more deals?

Sales often tends to be seen as an individual sport, though the reality is far from it. In SaaS, it's almost impossible to be completely independent throughout your sales cycle. And that is why organizations are increasingly formalizing team selling.

On a case-to-case basis, you might need help from different parties internal and external to your organization. For example—sometimes it is pulling in a domain expert from a different team into your sales conversation to answer a customer question. Other times, you might have to request an existing customer to make a warm introduction to their counterparts in other departments (in case of account expansion) or a new prospect who might be in their network. 

Individual sales reps or AEs can be far more resourceful and impactful when they have a support system to fall back on. And that's what team selling is all about. Through this post, let's look at how you can leverage the power of team selling to close more deals.

What is team selling and when to use it?

Team selling is a collaborative selling approach where two or more people (internal or external to your organization) work together to accelerate the sales process. Think of construction workers moving a huge boulder out of a highway as an analogy to understand team selling better. One person might not be able to do the job single-handedly or might take forever to clear the road on their own. It's the same thing with rowing—four people propelling the boat can get them faster to the shore than just one person rowing it all alone.

The team at ForImpact has created a brilliant framework for team selling that helps define the roles and responsibilities of teams involved in the process (best represented by the figure shared below).

Source: ForImpact Team Selling Framework

Team selling, in that sense, is a way for sales teams to apply more horsepower to their sales processes and synchronize the resources together to close more deals.

Team selling helps you to:

  1. Accelerate your sales processes
  2. Improve cross-functional collaboration
  3. Enhance customer experience and builds trust
  4. Maximize your ROI

Ideally, it makes more sense to incorporate team selling if you are trying to break into accounts with bigger revenue potential. In other words, team selling is best for account-based sales where you need to leverage the breadth of your company's expertise or advisory board or partner network. Leveraging your ecosystem dramatically increases the likelihood of success with your target accounts.

Key factors to remember when you sell as a team

While the team selling approach has a lot of benefits, it needs to be done well and, more importantly, needs to be applied in the right context. Let's look at a few things to remember when you get into team selling.

1. Not every deal needs team selling

If you're in SaaS and target SMB customers, the average contract value (ACV) for your inbound deals usually tends to be smaller—typically between $3k and $20k—which doesn't need team selling. Your AEs can handle those deals end-to-end. 

But as you begin to go outbound for bigger deals and move upmarket, there is a need for collaboration across functions within your organization and parties external to your organization, such as partners, advisory board, etc.

How to improve cross-functional collaboration?

Therefore, it's important to have a strong sales discovery process in place that helps you identify the potential deal value, which can, in turn, set the context for the approach you take after that.

2. Bring in the right people at the right time

The whole point of team selling is to accelerate the sales process and improve the customer experience. Therefore, it's important not to complicate it by bringing in too many people into a deal. The key is to be strategic when it comes to bringing in the right people at the right time into the sales process (ideally based on the stakeholders involved from the customer's side).

3. Leverage your tech stack 

To be on top of your team selling game you need to have the right tools. For example, a conversational intelligence platform can help you record, transcribe, and get AI-generated summarized notes for all your conversations—to help you continuously improve your sales performance. 

More importantly, all key stakeholders across your organization need to have access to deal intelligence—i.e., an instant overview of the health of the deals in the sales pipeline. That way, you can instantly know the following:

  • Who is involved in the deal from the seller- as well as the buyer-side?
  • Who are the key decision-makers engaged?
  • What stage is the deal in currently?
  • The number of interactions across meetings, calls, emails
  • The last contacted/engaged date

This helps the right people get involved at the right time. Finally, ensure that your tech stack allows collaboration and feedback sharing asynchronously to accelerate the communication across functions.

Now that we've seen the key factors to consider, let's take the case of an Account Executive (AE) and see how they can leverage team selling as part of their sales process.

Use case: How Account Executives can leverage team selling

In a typical SaaS scenario, AEs are at the forefront of sales—and they are usually the ones who get credit for new account conversions and bear the brunt of deals that don't go through. But it's not fair to have the entire burden of sales on AEs. And that's where team selling can be a game-changer to an AE's everyday job. 

For instance, they can involve the right people across the deal stages based on the stakeholders involved in their target accounts.

When to involve sales leadership

If you take a closer look at the above screenshot, it's clear that the key stakeholders involved in the target account are sales leaders. So, it makes sense to involve your sales leadership to level up the conversation.

The sales leaders can guide the AE to the right team or person, or give them access to information that will help them progress the deal. There are also times when sales leaders can help remove barriers for the prospect on a case-by-case basis—for example—by offering an initial discount or allowing an extended trial.

Key point:

Give your sales leader enough context about the deal before your sales leader gets on the call. Ideally, using a conversation intelligence tool like Avoma will ensure that the AI-generated notes (conversation summary) from your previous conversations are captured and automatically synced to CRM—which can easily help you fill in the context for your sales leadership.

When to involve customer success

As the sales conversation matures, some prospects tend to be keen about your product's learning curve and have questions about your onboarding process and customer support. Bringing in a Customer Success Manager (CSM) at this point will help you get the questions answered and help your prospects get a glimpse into what the after-sales relationship might look like.

Key point:

While bringing in a CSM is a proactive step and helps in a seamless account handoff, it's important to make sure that you are not bringing them in too early. And when it's time to bring the CSM into the loop, it's better to introduce the exact CSM who might take over the relationship after the deal is closed.

Involving sales engineers, product managers, and other stakeholders

It's best to bring in a sales engineer or a product manager for technical conversations or discussions related to the product vision. It's fair to say that technical experts can help build trust with the technical experts on the other side.

Overall, team selling takes sales away from being a single-player game and makes it a multiplayer game where the priority is to give the best possible customer experience and thereby accelerate the time to revenue. In short, it's about getting whoever it takes to be onboard to get deals across the table in the most effective manner.

Final thoughts

Team selling is a big-league sport—it's a call to arms for everyone to gather together for a collective cause of closing deals or even opening up new possibilities. But it needs close collaboration, clear communication, and tight alignment between all teams across the organization and beyond to make 'team selling' a success.

There are practically no downsides to team selling, while the advantages it offers to modern SaaS sales are immense. We hope this post will help you apply the tactics discussed above to close more deals.