Dealstorming: Sales Genius Is a Team Sport

I laughed. I cried. I took 5 pages of notes. I was ready to change.

After the keynote presentation, I waited. I had to meet the speaker. I waited until he was completely finished with his book signing and introduced myself to Tim Sanders.

The truth is, I didn’t want to just meet Tim. I wanted to do the kind of work he was doing. Tim shared his time and some valuable perspective on his business. He recommended books, asked me questions and even followed up with an email the next day. I was floored by his generosity.

Fast forward six years and I was invited to give a presentation at the Best of Breed Conference. The conference also featured Tim as the opening keynote speaker. I was grateful for the opportunity to reconnect and to let him know personally the profound impact our conversation had on my journey. He was equally generous the second time around with insight and advice for the next phase.

I always follow Tim’s advice. It’s that good. I’ve read everything he’s written, including his brand new book, “Dealstorming: The Secret Weapon That Can Solve Your Toughest Sales Challenges.”

I was thrilled that Tim published a sales book! If you’re a business leader looking to drive revenue growth in a competitive, complex sales environment, this is absolutely the next book you should read! It’s that good.

I was fortunate to connect with Tim recently to discuss the concept of dealstorming and how it can provide a sales organization with a huge advantage. Here are the highlights from our conversation.

Why does sales innovation matter now? What challenge are sales organizations facing?

In traditional sales, before the customer was empowered with access to information, the salesperson controlled the flow of information. Tim says, “I sold belly-to-belly. I controlled the expression of information. I could reveal a solution my customer had never heard of.” But now, we’re living in a sales climate powered by information and self-service. Instead of presenting new information, modern salespeople are put in a position of assisting and clarifying research the customer has already done.

We’ve reached a turning point: Innovation (not just perspiration) has become the secret to succeed in the world of complex sales.

“In today’s sales world, a done deal is 100 problems solved,” Tim says. That’s because buyers have their own “buyingstorm” team. One person isn’t making the decision — they’re working with multiple stakeholders and departments. Buying has become complicated.

Tim shared an analogy I liked: When the salesperson is working alone, they’re looking through a telescope and can clearly see the North Star (their primary buyer). But without bringing other people in, the seller can’t see the other stars that make up a bigger constellation of influence around the North Star. Salespeople need other people’s perspectives to see that big picture and understand the full buying team.

The sales professional often has to coach the buyer through that complicated buying process. That takes creativity and new ideas. Tim stresses that the “lone wolf” creative genius is a myth. To generate the new ideas and creative solutions needed to succeed in today’s sales environment, salespeople need the benefit of teamwork and collaboration — enter dealstorming.

What is a dealstorm?

Tim describes a dealstorm this way: “Dealstorming creates multidisciplinary teams around sales challenges — winning a piece of business or saving a key account. A dealstorm is when an account executive creates a team appropriate to the opportunity size that involves people who have a stake in the outcome and a few experts about the problem — what we we would call in sales a ‘sticking point.’”

Once the team comes together, “the point of dealstorming is to collaborate in a series of meetings to find the real problem and explore what I call the Next Best Play.”

Who should be included in a dealstorm?

The account executive is the leader of a dealstorm, and she invites people to join the team, pulling in people from different departments who could help. To decide who to recruit, ask:

  • Who has the biggest stake in the outcome?
  • Who can help me broaden my perspective on this issue?
  • Who knows something about my sticking point?
  • And then: Who’s missing from this conversation?

The traditional sales team worked much like a golf team. Individuals competed on their own, and sometimes they’d share notes or techniques. A deal team works more like a football team. Different people with different skills, backgrounds and experiences all work together to solve challenges. The team needs everyone working together to succeed

How can you get a team excited about a dealstorm?

The leader unites everyone around a common cause: to accomplish something bigger than just getting the deal or making money.

Here’s his advice: “If you want to break down silos, go win a deal as a team and you’ll see the walls go down. Nothing reverberates more than winning a big deal, especially if you’re snatching it from the jaws of your biggest competitor.”

Tim has seen collaborative success when a group focuses on a goal like taking business away from the competition. Everyone can get around that competitive goal, and it’s more compelling than “hitting quota.”

People are stretched thin and will look for ways to guard their time, so it’s important to highlight a cause they care about, instead of just adding another meeting to their calendar or project to their to-do list.

Tim recommends sending everyone on the team a “deal brief” — a detailed document that maps out exactly what the team will try to accomplish, along with a specific timeline. If everyone on the team understands the “why” and the “how,” meetings are more likely to be productive.

What is a Next Best Play?

The “Next Best Play” is a term Tim borrowed from Duke’s Coach K. He coaches his team to focus their attention on the next best play. So, the dealstorm team focuses on the next thing they can do with the account, starting right away. Taking incremental steps forward makes it easier to see the finish line and helps the team feel a sense of forward progress and motivation.

In sales, we’re taught “contracting” — focusing on mini agreements, or getting the next “yes” from the customer. For non-salespeople, that’s the Next Best Play — getting a bunch of little wins that add up to a big victory. Every touchpoint should advance the relationship forward.

Tim acknowledges that sales organizations can’t assemble a cross-functional team to tackle every deal. But there’s a point when a salesperson is stuck, and they know the normal sales process isn’t going to move them forward. Depending on the size of the deal and its strategic nature, it could be time for a dealstorm.

A done deal is 100 problems solved. “Dealstorming” is a must read for any sales leader seeking to unleash more creative problem solving and innovative solutions to address their most complex and critical sales opportunities!

Ryan Estis helps companies and individual contributors embrace change and achieve breakthrough performance. Each live event blends original research with compelling stories that move participants to take action. Ryan has 20 years of business experience working with the world’s best brands to initiate change, inspire innovation and deliver growth. Learn more about Ryan Estis.

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