Slalom’s managing director of sales, Todd Sink, gives the scoop on why approaching sales as a team is the best way to win with your clients.
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 takes with the more than 1,200 sellers he leads at Slalom. 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 helping 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. Not everyone in the organization has the skills to play each role, which presents development opportunities for our sellers and leaders.
Any advice on how other sales leaders should implement this approach?
This 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 team sales culture is to remove the concept of “owner.” 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.