When Ann Machado uses team selling to win the big accounts, she really means team. The CEO of $12-million Creative Staffing, a temporary-services firm in Miami, fields a lineup that often includes Machado, her chief financial officer, her sales director, the sales rep, the operations manager, and the person who would service the account.

Says Machado: "When you explain what each person does, it gives you more credibility." Customers concur. "It's nice to have access to all the players. You know who's going to carry out the service," says one.

Machado, who spends 10% of her time on team sales, says the tactic lowers selling costs. Previously, it could take six months to close a major deal; now it takes as little as five weeks because the team gathers more and better information, she says. While the CFO tackles issues like workers' comp, the sales director may assess the fit between the two companies.

One drawback: the limited time to establish a rapport. In a 45-minute meeting, you can overwhelm the prospect, Machado warns. However, the team usually leaves with a small order that day. Team selling -- proven successful by big companies like Xerox -- has netted Creative Staffing new contracts worth $2 million. Also, two $1-million accounts, under attack by a competitor, were saved by Machado's team.

-- Susan Greco

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