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Sales AboutFACE, Inc. | Ottawa, ON

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by Terry Ledden

How to control the play when there’s two or more of you in the game

Losing Control                                                                                     

In a one on one sales call, there’s enough action going on that even with the best selling system we often have to work hard to maintain control while at the same time ensuring the prospect feels they are in control.

Prospects who feel they are controlling the process, feel more comfortable. Prospects who feel more comfortable with us tend not to act as defensively.  Defensive prospects tend to lie about their interest, steal all our valuable knowledge and expertise, mislead us into thinking we’re going to do business and then pull a disappearing act when it’s time to give us a decision.

That’s a lot to manage. Bring players on your end into the sales call and your ability to manage to your intended outcome can easily go sideways.

I routinely ask this question of sales managers and sales people; “When do you typically brief one another prior to a joint sales call?” Answers ….. “In the coffee shop on the way to the meeting”, “Riding from the airport to the customer”, “in the car”, “in the parking lot.” I recently heard an Olympic coach quoted as saying, “Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents P*** Poor Performance. If a deal is important enough to bring in additional company guns, is it worth doing some things to avoid loss of control and maximize your outcome?

Keeping Control

In selling as in life, there truly are few things over which we do have absolute control.  Whether we choose to exercise it is another matter, but we do have control over our THOUGHTS, our FEELINGS in response to those thoughts, and the resulting ACTION we take. The action, what we do, is either self-limited or self-enabled based on what we think and how we feel.

So here’s the control action top Sandler sales pro’s live by in team selling situations. What you think about it, how you feel about it and what you do as a result is your decision and under your control!

Assembling the Team

When you’re putting the team together, first give careful consideration to the purpose and outcome for the meeting. Then decide on who you need.  Be absolutely clear about the role each selected team member is required to play in the meeting AND make certain every one of them has the ability and is comfortable in that role.

Select people you can trust.  Will they stay on strategy or start winging it, on the fly …. a sure sign of loss of control.

Establish, list and agree to GROUND RULES. Ground rules should include:

  • Follow the GROUP PLAN
  • Play YOUR expected ROLE, not your team mate’s
  • Appoint and follow a LEADER
  • Work in a COHESIVE manner

With the trusted team assembled and in agreement to the ground rules, follow this proven Sandler Sales Management process to maintain control and maximize success.

Putting it All Together


Provide the team with a concise review of the account, including their needs, interests, priorities, concerns, the players on their side and their roles in the decision. Most importantly, be sure to inoculate against FOOT IN MOUTH disease. Tell your team what information they are NOT supposed to know.

Review the “Up Front Contract©” established with the prospect. Clarify everyone’s role. Don’t assume each team member will play out their role to your expectations – Rehearse.

Establish your control techniques. Agree on visible signals you’ll use among the team to pass control to and from one another.

The Call

Pay close attention to seating layout. Position team members with pre-selected players on the prospect team.

The agreed sales team lead kicks off the meeting with a review of the pre-established “UpFront Contract©” and introduces each of the players on the team.Arrange in advance for the primary prospect contact to review their team’s objective(s), actions to date, and introduce their own players.

Carry out the meeting as planned. Summarize by creating a joint list of agreed items and next steps.


Conduct a meeting debrief among your team immediately following the call. Schedule the time in advance. Participation is mandatory. Generate follow-up correspondence summarizing agreements and next steps jointly developed at the meeting.

Create a pretense for a follow-up conversation.  Use that opportunity to validate the team’s conclusions, fill in gaps, and gain further insight into the prospect’s position after the meeting.

Seem like a lot of effort? As a general rule in a team selling environment, budget 4 hours of planning and preparation for every hour in the game. Remember, when the stakes are high and you’re not doing it ….. just maybe your competition is!

You decide. You’re in control.

Terry Ledden is Managing Partner of Sales AboutFace Inc, an authorized licensee of Sandler Training. He can be reached at



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