Your Sales Team Should Resemble The United Nations
“It was like The United Nations”, observed the sales director in describing the makeup of the sales team that had just arrived from his company’s consortium partner.
Planning for preparing the multimillion-dollar bid was in full swing now that the team from the lead contractor in the consortium (a Fortune 1000 company) had arrived in its subsidiary partner’s boardroom.
The assembled group was not quite what had been expected; around the table now sat the organization’s top brass: The Regional CEO and COO, as well as the Business Development Director of the lead partner organization.
More surprisingly still, the organization’s Regional CFO and Head of Procurement were also present. As the manager reflected on the seniority and diversity of the sales team assembled, the only analogy that seemed to fit was that of The United Nations.
The Future of Sales Proposal/Tender Preparation
“It was like The United Nations, with all nationalities represented”, he explained. “People had flown in from all geographies: North America, The UK and Eastern Europe – all races and creeds!”
“The sales proposal-building team had been pulled from right across the organization, representing not only different regions, but also different functions at the most senior level”, he added.
We’ll let the manager finish the story in his own words:
“It showed us that, from the very top of the organization – the CEO down, basically, they were determined to win this bid. In short, this was a sales proposal that had a high chance of winning.”
“In that room was the future of buying as well as the future of selling – and it was diverse, multicultural and multifunctional.”
“The cross-functional nature of the team gave rise to an incredible pooling of perspectives, covering all angles of the bid: market and cultural knowledge, technical and expert knowledge, and so on. The sales proposal that resulted was vastly superior to what the ‘traditional’ sales team could have put together.”
Board-Level Sales Proposal Preparation
“Far from it being sales proposal/tender preparation by committee, the assembled team showed they meant business from the very start… They had clearly worked together many times before.”
“Each team member took ownership of a different dimension of the sales proposal or tender – from the CFO managing the project budget, foreign exchange, bonding and other financial issues, to the COO driving the details of project delivery… This was bringing a level of expertise to the bid that otherwise just isn’t possible.”
“As the day progressed, it became clear that each person was there because they mirrored an opposite number on the buying team within the buying organization. So their CFO was playing tag with the buying organization’s CFO, the head of purchasing was playing tag with the head of purchasing on the buying team, and so on…”
“The level of seniority involved gave an increased level of perspective to the bid and, in particular, its key success factors.”
“The gray hairs in the room, and the vast levels of business experience that could be called upon, brought with them a real understanding of just what the buying organization was trying to achieve, and how we could successfully craft and deliver an effective solution…”
“Lessons learnt from hundreds of previous projects could be brought into play; more importantly still, there was no need to refer to senior managers for decisions about the parameters of the bid (risk management, scope etc.) – all the people who mattered were there in the room. As a result, the meeting progressed at a swift pace, with decisions being taken and acted upon immediately…”
Some Implications For You to Consider…
Arising from this, some useful questions for the reader to consider are:
- Does your sales team look like a community council, or The United Nations?
- Are you ‘playing tag’ with all those who will be represented on the buying team – matching like-for-like to mirror the increasingly cross-functional and senior nature of buying?
- Is there sufficient input from senior management in your preparation of big sales proposals/tenders?
- Are you leveraging the purchasing knowledge within your organization in terms of sales proposals?