FACILITATES: Manages role expectations effectively, when dealing with groups

FACILITATES: Manages role expectations effectively, when dealing with groups

“Things are hotting up” Omar sounded excited over the phone.

Omar’s mobile screen went alive with 5 other smiling faces. “Sales Buddies” he called them. These were batchmates from college, all of them, into sales in different companies, with whom Omar connected once a week. “

Good for you Omar” said Abhishek, the sales guru of the group “Tell us more” Abhishek was a corporate banking RM for a large bank with pan India presence.

Friends sensed that Omar seemed to relish his new RM’s role in Charaka Medical Technologies’ (CMT)

“Guys, you know my company CMT creates and sells telemedicine software for telehealth solutions. The software facilitates remote doctor-patient consultations and vital sign monitoring. CMT’s proprietary software helps doctors to evaluate and diagnose patients, e-prescribe medicines, propose treatment courses and even stay on top of changes in the patients’ medical conditions through remote consultations”

John, who was handling sales for a FMCG major interrupted “Hey Omar, your story is surprising. Most companies are fighting to revive sales. How’s it you say things are hotting up?”

“That’s the thing I wanted to share” said Omar. “COVID-19 pandemic has put us in fast forward. It seems to have delivered years worth growth in just a few months. Immense opportunities have opened up for telehealth solutions. Social distancing has become unavoidable not only for minimizing patients’ exposure to infection risks but also for ensuring safety of healthcare providers. Telemedicine therefore, is an attractive, effective, and affordable option, to achieve this. So, after waiting for years to see telemedicine catch on, we are finally experiencing growth”

“Then selling must be a piece of cake for you” said Taran, who managed distributorships for an agriculture machinery company “Your clients must be the hospital chains, right? Of course there will be multiple stakeholders when you sell to such institutional clients. But that’s the whole fun. Convince each one of your value proposition, build a consensus and bingo, the sale is yours”

“Wish it were that simple, Taran” said Omar “After multiple discussions with operations, finance, human resources and technology teams, I always get an in principle okay from every one. Then the CTO usually proposes a meeting of all stakeholders for a final sign off. And that’s when the whole thing unravels. I’m astonished at the positions that stakeholders take at these meetings. Operations suddenly wants new functionalities, finance presses for price reduction and technology demands more customization. The deal becomes a non-starter. Any suggestions guys?”

“Look Omar” said Abhishek “I think you need to plan ahead for such meetings. May be you should profile the participants, understand the role expectations between them and carefully facilitate a discussion that will get you a consensus. Do that and you will start seeing results”

Beating the blues of group selling

Resilient sales professionals are adept at handling the challenges of group selling to clinch large value deals. They are clued into the 'dark' secret of what makes individual stakeholders, who seem so sweet and favourable in one-on-one meetings, turn into such unreasonable antagonists or indifferent onlookers when you make a group-selling pitch. They have strategies to beat such group selling blues.

According to psychologists, individuals tend to behave differently when in groups, mainly because they sense that they are ‘being watched’ by other stakeholders and perhaps feel the need to prove absence of bias. In a group setting, every stakeholder is sensitive to how other stakeholders will view their words and actions. This often pushes them to take positions that they do not assume in 1:1 meetings. So, what is the one thing you can do to prevent this from happening?

The Answer: Profile the Group and understand Role Expectations

The answer, as with any aspect of selling, is quite simple. Plan and plan ahead. And the best way to do this to analyze the participant profiles. That would give you an insight into the “role expectations” the meeting participants may have. By virtue of their status, position, competence or personality you can expect every participant to play a certain role or part at the meeting.

Being aware of these role expectations will avoid unpleasant surprises and will also help devise strategies to overcome challenges as and when they arise. Managing these ‘role expectations’ is key to successful group selling.

Possible solution for the story situation – It will help Omar to overcome the challenges of Group Selling if he uses the 10 Point Group Selling Questionnaire (See Anchor Practice below)

Anchor Practice:

10 Point Group Selling Questionnaire:

(1) Who will take part? (2) Who could be influenced to participate? (3) What do these people think? (4) What do they know? (5) What do they expect? (6) What is their attitude? (7) What are their interests/ motivation? (8) Who is likely to be an ally? Opponent? Neutral or indifferent? (9) How can these people be influenced? Frequently used methods of influencing include – Meeting media: video/audio/in-person, questions, samples, references (10) Who should you take with you from your side?

Analyse your answers to these questions. The group profile that emerges will give you pointers to effectively manage role expectations in the group to facilitate a productive discussion that gets you closer to deal closure

Bonus Tip for Virtual Group Selling - Before the meeting gets off to a formal start, request to switch on the camera briefly and express happiness at meeting the entire set of stakeholders who are part of the meeting. It is easier to see all in one dimensional frame on a screen than in a physical set up and the gesture earns goodwill all round

Pause to reflect:  "Managing ‘role expectations’ is key to successful group selling".

Action Question:  Apply the 10 Point Group Selling Questionnaire to 3 large deals in your pipeline. How will it change your call preparation?

Related Readings: Mercuri Insight Document on How to Overcome the 3 Challenges of Group Selling

Takeaway Quote:  “The group dynamic can bring synergy, or tear thing apart” - Margaret

About the series:   This is the 81st in a series of 100 Posts that seek to build your Sales Resilience ... as an individual salesperson, as a sales team, and as a sales organization. Because a Resilient India needs Resilient Sales.


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