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In sales, there is no "I" in team

Flickr user thetaxhaven
(MoneyWatch) The obsession with finding super successful sales people is understandable. Who doesn't want to employ a rock star? A great deal of time and energy in spent to find the person with the perfect combination of verve, rapport and other sales skills.

But that is misguided. Even if the perfect person exists, more is needed to land major accounts.

Companies are obsessed with salespeople's qualifications, experience and achievements. Except that it is not the individual, but rather the team that is the key to landing such key account sales. Teamwork is the true way to sustained and enduring success in growing a business.

In turn, team performance is influenced by the kinds of people making up a team that hunts big deals. But not all of those are salespeople. Certain combinations of personality types and job functions perform better than others.

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When you change the thinking from player to team, the responsibility for performance is spread across all team members. You must figure out what balance of skills you need. A quick list might include:

1. The Opener. This person is a rapport builder. Someone who can generate interest, open the door and secure a meeting with an executive sponsor.

2. The Technician. A person who demonstrates that you know your stuff. This is your industry expert, who can provide the necessary language, history and context to the discussion as it relates to the prospect's company and its potential purchase from our company.

3. The Flow. A very important relationship person. He or she gets a sense of the prospect's people and keeps the sales communication moving. This person is a facilitator, more like a sales chauffeur than a sales driver.

4. The Strategist. This is the thinker with a black-belt in human relations. Handles people, motivations, approaches and structure for the meetings, sales calls and overall pitch.

5. The Muscle. Heavy-duty experts who may lack people skills. Subject matter experts on the team who can match up with a prospects counterparts on issues such as design, engineering, IT and operations.

6. The Closer. The person with the authority to close the deal; work out the price, terms and related issues; and make the commitment on the part of the company. Big deals cannot be sold by a salesperson... alone. It takes a tribe to hunt a big sale, and the chief of the tribe needs to lead the hunt.

You may have people capable of playing more than one role on your team, but more than likely you will not have "the complete package" in one person. Hardly anyone ever does. Here's whats important:

Ability to play as a part of a team. Team members should be just that -- members of a team. They should play well with others.

Historical performance sync of sales cycle and sales size. Find those people who are used to the length of the sales cycle and the size of the deals you're looking to secure.

"German shepherd" discipline. When you are a part of a multi-person team, you need to be able to respond to the subtle leadership signals of "come," "go," "no," "sit" and "stay." Team members must know how to listen.

Here is the biggest reason that landing a key account depends on a sales team: Big deals cannot be OK'd by a single executive. Everyone at the prospect company seems to have a veto, but nobody can vote "yes." Decisions in your favor are made because the fewest number voted "no". The sales team needs to work to get the no off the table instead of letting the solitary sales star get one loud yes.