Creating “chemistry” in a Sales Orginizations

March 18, 2009

Have you ever been a part of a Sales Team that had “chemistry”? Where the whole of the Team were greater than their individual parts? I have been fortunate to have been a part of a number of such sales teams. While I have sold for a living my real passion is the Solutions side of the team. A good Pre-sales solutions engineer or solutions salesman can really give your team a shot in the arm. A bad one (with too much ego) can do just as much damage to morale.

When I first took the job at _BS-Boston I showed up at the downtown showroom, the “Tech Portal”, Corporate had spent some decent money making this a top class showroom. I knew that I would be spending a good deal of time there. I asked the Sales Manager who ran the downtown office if I could get one of his parking passes (for me to hang on to). He looked at me skeptically and said “what do you need a parking pass for”? I said that I am planning to spend a lot of time in this demo room, and working out of this office. He said “Yeah, we’ll see”. He went on to tell me that none of the SEs liked coming in to Boston. After my third visit that week, he handed me a parking pass, and we began to develop a real good working relationship. The Sales Manager had a solid team of mostly young, but motivated, sales people. He had one or two more seasoned guys. But that team had chemistry. They worked together helping each other out on deals. They often would eat lunch together or go out after work together. This is not something you can force it had to be cultivated naturally. This downtown sales manager did a good job of developing a team culture.

When I first started talking with this Sales Manager for the downtown office I told him that it would take us a year to get things where we really wanted them. But after that we would see some real benefits. Why so long? Because when I arrived there was a distrust between the Sales & the Solutions people. Why? Because most Solutions people come up through the Service channel. And let’s face it there is a certain animosity between Sales & Service. We can’t afford to have that same animosity between Solutions & Sales! We MUST be a team. I believe that it is incumbent upon the Solutions Engineer to earn the trust of each Sales Person that they work with, and this is what takes time. It took us a year at _BS-Boston, but we did it and by the end of the second year we had shown what a Sales Team with Chemistry can do. We were the only _BS direct Branch to hit all of our numbers for the year. I am very proud to have been a part of that team.

How can the Solutions Engineer gain the trust of the Sales people that s/he works with? It REALLY helps if the Solutions Engineer has sold in a previous job. But it is REALLY hard to find a good technical person who has sold for a living too. If you do prepare to pay a premium for their services (it will be worth it). If they have not sold them selves they really need to be empathetic to what it is like for a quota bearing Sales Person. To get up every morning thinking where am I at on my quota, what will close this week, or this month? It is not enough to just dress a Systems Engineer (SE) in a suit and make them look like a Sales person, they have to think like one (at least to some degree) if the sales person is going to trust them. The biggest thing a Solutions Engineer has to show their Sales counterpart is that they are committed to doing what it takes to get the deal. They need to see that the Solutions Sales Engineer is invested in the deal, and that they will do everything (ethical) to get it.

This is all too often the missing ingredient to that illusive “chemistry” that we seek to develop in our sales teams.

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh



  1. But can or should you ethically engineer chemistry in a sales team – the sweet spot is when people with differences can work together without being forcerd to pretend they were twins seperarted at birth.

    Keep in Touch

    The Closer

  2. Closer,

    I agree that it should not be forced or it is not real chemistry. I don’t have to love or even like every member of my team. But if there is mutual respect for what the other brings to the table then we can develop the chemistry of which I speak.

  3. Good point here, Vince. However I have to take you to task. For the record I hear you have a good reputation in the business. Word is you are hard working and have alot of talent. However I also understand that when you jumped from your current employer to the manufacturer world you had alot to say about NECS and the dealer world and it was never positive. You repeatedly disparaged NECS and they way it was run…even taking some pot shots at the owner. I understand at that time you were thrilled to be part of the the manufacturer world and touted its structure internally and externally. When NECS lost its SE to the same manufacturer, at that time NECS pursued you and paid you. And noone faults you that. We all like to be paid. But don’t pretend that your change of tune is not complete hypocrisy.

    You may say what I have posted here is bull but its been confirmed from multiple sources.

    Carry on.

  4. Manny,

    When I work for someone, I work “FOR” them. If I accept a pay check from a company then I will speak well of that company. I will work and speak positively on their behalf, I will advance their causes and try my very best to see that I make them more money than they pay me. You may consider that to be mercenary, or a “gun for hire” mentality. I consider it being loyal to my employer.

    Every company has its strong points and its draw backs. My job is to point out the strong points of the company I work for and the draw backs of doing business with my competitors. Isn’t that a part of selling?

    I am going to have to respectfully disagree with your “sources” as to me disparaging the dealer I work for when I was with the manufacturer. If I did so do you think they would have hired me back? I left the dealership on good terms, I honored my non-competes, and I kept in touch with a large number of my co-workers. I even attended their Christmas party when I was with the Manufacturer. When the opportunity arose I returned to work here, and I am happy to say things have been great. We are busy and we are growing!

    I also recently heard that some of my coworkers at _BS that they feel like I have been hard on them. Not so, I have good things to say about the people I worked with at _BS-Boston (See this article above). It is the parent company and the national organization that I am calling to task for some of the poor decisions and policies that they have recently employed.
    If you read any of the other industry blogs or web sites you will see that I am not alone in my opinions.

    Whether or not I am right, time will tell.

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