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Using Belbin to Increase Sales Effectiveness and Improve Customer Relationships

Sales teams provide a unique opportunity to respond effectively to customer demands and to manage complex buyer-seller relationships.

Sales teams are instrumental in establishing successful strategic relationships and Belbin Team Roles can help make those teams more effective.

The rise of sales teams

Over the last decade, the transformation of sales organisations has seen a rise in the use of sales teams.

Buying behaviour, technology, globalisation, competition and unprecedented external and internal pressures are forcing sales organisations to revisit sales strategies, structures and practices.

Why sales teams?

Whilst many organisations still recruit and fulfil traditional sales roles, modern selling is moving away from the dyadic relationship between sales representative and customer and towards team-based selling.

The move to sales teams requires significant changes in organisational structures and processes.

For example, a multidisciplinary sales team might incorporate individuals from technical, financial and customer management teams, each bringing specific expertise and understanding at a particular stage of the sales process.


Relational and behavioural outcomes

Sales teams provide opportunities for enhanced experiential learning and knowledge sharing, which are far more limited in the traditional model of individual selling.

High-performing sales teams with a focus on collective goal-setting see higher levels of employee engagement and less conflict.

Performance and organisational outcomes

Team-based structures in sales provide a higher quality of work, by combining talents from disparate competency areas.

Effective sales teams can better handle strategic relationships and can acquire and process market-related insights which lead to sustained selling.


When selling teams devise creative solutions to problems, facilitate negotiations, adapt to meet buyer needs or address complaints promptly, customer satisfaction is increased.

As part of the selling process, the collection, analysis and dissemination of customer insights could allow the sales team to help steer the design of future customer solutions.

Other types of added value from sales teams include:

  • Enhanced customer lifetime value
  • Higher sales volumes
  • Improved profitability
  • Increased market share
  • Innovation
  • Better quality

Why Use Belbin to help negotiation teams

""We have used Belbin Team Roles to help negotiation teams come together more effectively and to display the right behaviors at the right point in the negotiation process."

Professor Javier Marcos, Professor of Strategic Sales Management and Negotiation, Cranfield School of Management.

Building effective sales teams with Belbin Team Roles

Effective sales teams

Groups become teams when a shared and common purpose is understood, when there are clear performance standards and procedures, and when team members hold themselves mutually accountable for achieving results.

Teams are characterised by having high levels of complementary skills. In other words, different Team Roles are present and allowed to contribute.

Effective sales teams share a number of characteristics with other teams.

However, they operate in more fast-paced, less predictable environments, making some qualities more salient or more relevant than for non-sales teams:

  • Effective sales teams must clarify goals, to help achieve co-ordination, cohesion and reduced role conflict.
  • Effective processes and procedures are needed to ensure that the organisation can successfully deliver on promises made to customers.
  • Agreed responsibilities and accountability reduces confusion and helps to foster productive relationships.
  • Effective sales teams recognise that performance standards are needed. Sales teams are more likely to 'deliver' on complex performance measures than are single individuals.


Bringing in Belbin

There are three key ways in which Belbin Team Roles theory can assist sales organisations design and develop effective sales teams.

  • Increasing Sales Effectiveness by identifying how individuals can contribute to advanced selling processes.
  • Improving Customer Relationships through enhanced interactions and adaptive selling.
  • Using complementarity of Team Roles within a sales team.


Increasing Sales Effectiveness

Each individual within a selling team has unique contributions to make to sales processes.

The key to increased sales effectiveness is to recognise and nurture those contributions. Different Team Roles can be used effectively in a number of sales processes.

For example:

Customer retention and management

  • Plants can think of ways in which customers can use new products and services.
  • Resource Investigators can request referrals and exploiting customer networks to find new business opportunities.
  • Implementers can adopt a systematic approach to prioritising opportunities and targeting customers.
  • Monitor Evaluators will be able to select those opportunities which are worth pursuing.


Learning and Knowledge Management

  • Monitor Evaluators can critically evaluate successes and failures in past deals.
  • Specialists can provide the necessary expertise to interpret data, translating information into business intelligence.


Developing relationships

  • Outgoing and enthusiastic, Resource Investigators will often be effective relationship builders.
  • Co-ordinators can orchestrate relationships between supplier and customer to improve communication and align expectations.


Exploring customer needs

  • Plants can explore possibilities, conceptualise and articulate new business development opportunities for customers.
  • Monitor Evaluators are best placed to question customer assumptions and views of their business and market.
  • Resource Investigators will be adept at encouraging discussion, thereby revealing hidden needs and possibilities.


Linking capabilities

  • Plants can establish how the supplier’s offerings can add value to the customer’s business, and Resource Investigators can enthuse customers with potential benefits.
  • Implementers can ensure that the Plant’s ideas can be translated into workable proposals.
  • Completer Finishers play a key role in identifying inconsistencies and errors in document proposals.
  • Monitor Evaluators will be instrumental in identifying promises which cannot be delivered.


Joint problem-solving

  • Teamworkers can ensure that customer requests and demands are heard and addressed.
  • Plants will respond creatively with new ways of addressing customer objections and complaints.
  • Implementers will roll out agreed actions to schedule in order to restore customer confidence.


Adding value

  • Shapers will have the courage and drive to propose actions or commitments from customers.
  • Implementers can ensure that agreed next steps are taken and executed according to schedule.



  • Co-ordinators will ensure adoption of a harmonised approach to deal with the customer.
  • They will engage Resource Investigators to extend relationships with the client and Plants to identify and new opportunities.
  • Teamworkers will nurture and develop ongoing business relationships.
  • Completer Finishers and Specialists will enhance and refine the customer delivery process, service and product.

We would love to work with you to boost the performance of your sales teams. Please contact us for more information.

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