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Sports analogies are to sales as urinal troughs are to baseball. They go hand in hand, glove on hand because a baseball game is straightforward. A basketball game is simple. Team A competes against team B. Whoever scores the most points wins.
We compare inside sales to sports because we want sales to be as straightforward as a sports game, with a defined “winner and loser.” It’s easier for us to think of selling as a game, and selling strategies as plays in a playbook. But inside sales isn’t a sport, and treating it as such won’t get you very far in today’s sales climate, because with that mindset, it means if you win, the other person loses and that is why your buyer hates dealing with you.
Now don’t get us wrong, we believe there is a winning element to sales. And no, not a win-win, everyone gets a trophy scenario. This winning is about succeeding in your mission. Sales is not about outplaying your prospect, it’s about making sure your prospect understands the real value your product or service brings to their daily work and personal life.”
“Sales is not about outplaying your prospect, it’s about making sure your prospect understands the real value your product or service brings to their daily work AND personal life.”
Rather than a straightforward A to B structure, selling is a complex brew of variables. And it’s only getting brothier. If you’ve been paying attention to the industry, you’ve probably noticed that sales cycles are getting longer. More stakeholders are involved in a consensus buying process. There’s more competition, a bigger concern for ROI, and almost an expectation for customization. What was easy is now complicated. And when things get complicated, salespeople need to get creative. They need to learn how to improvise. From our perspective, plays from a sales playbook don’t allow for enough improvisation.
But cookbooks do.
Most recipes in a cookbook serve as a jumping off point. When followed to a T, these recipes (usually) produce good food. But the more familiar you are with the recipes, the better you become at playing with the ingredients to adjust the outcome. That’s what good cooks do. That’s what chefs do. They start with a basic recipe, then extrapolate, revise and modify. Experiment. That’s when stuff gets tasty!
Good inside salespeople are like chefs. They know that no matter how many sales tactics and sales strategies they memorize, there will always be a selling situation that just doesn’t fit, and they’re going to need the flexibility to experiment with different spices and flavors.
So what are these ingredients? What the absolute heck am I really talking about? Let’s get specific. As a salesperson, your ingredients are your information–information about the prospect and their industry. Information about competitors and industry trends. And let’s not forget your secret sauce, the real value your solution brings to the table, the Why and How factor, not the What factor. Ingredients equal the information necessary to do your job at peak effectiveness.
And where do those ingredients come from? The sales enablement process–The official 2017 Sales Buzz Word of The Year! Sales Enablement is the process of gathering, organizing, and delivering salespeople the most pertinent information, data, and tools to help them sell at peak effectiveness. If done well, sales enablement supplies you with enough relevant ingredients to cook something amazing in multiple ways.
And if ingredients are information, then recipe directions are our sales strategies. Combine them and you should be able to adjust to, and overcome, any sales situation you encounter.
Sales Secret Sauce – Calm Confidence
Let’s put this idea into practice. First, a cooking scenario:
You’re making your favorite pasta dish for a dinner party. Among other ingredients, the original recipe calls for cheese and cream. You’ve already started cooking when you remember that some of your guests are vegan. People are arriving. Everyone’s hungry. But you’re good at this. You know enough recipes, and enough about food to tinker with it in the moment. Suddenly cream becomes pureed tofu. Parmesan becomes a blend of cashews, salt, and garlic powder. Problem. Solution. Happiness.
Now let’s look at the sales version of that scenario.
You’ve got a second meeting set up with your prospect. You were told it’s going to be you and your two prospects, a VP of Sales and a Director of Sales, both of whom were on the first call. You get to the office, they show you to the conference room, and suddenly three people walk in. In addition to your two prospects, they have brought the CRO. What do you do?
Because you’ve gone through solid sales enablement training, you know your ingredients well, so you take this in stride, already prepared. Having done your homework, you know your prospects pains based on their titles. More importantly, you’ve also done your research on the CRO, and know her unique pains well enough to be able to address them. You’re calm, confident, and to your surprise, excited, because you now have a major decision maker in the room. All you need to do is adjust your ingredients. It might be a good idea to sprinkle some topics that directly relate to the CRO’s pain perspectives, onto the agenda. Based on her role, perhaps you can modify a few discovery questions to confirm her pains.
See, compared to a sales cookbook, a sales playbook just isn’t as adaptable to such a situation. A playbook tends to offer very specific, guided instructions focused a specific process. Got an SLA between SDRs and AE’s? There’s a play for that. Trying to sell to folks in New York City and Birmingham, Alabama? That’s more a cookbook’s territory.
Here’s another way to think about it: Want to know why The Rock is the definitive people’s champion? Because he didn’t just stick to the book, he improvised. He played to the crowd. He was dynamic. You could even say he …. cooks. And it smells delicious.
My wife thinks I’m crazy for saying this, but I love the sales job interview process. And no, I don’t mean interviewing candidates, I mean interviewing as a candidate. I love it so much that a close friend, Scott Leese, SVP of Sales at Qualia Labs, and I often joke about how if we could make money just by landing job interviews, we would do it full time.
Landing, and of course, nailing job interviews is an invaluable life skill, and if you’ve ever had to wade through the job market, you probably know that your single greatest point of leverage is securing multiple job offers simultaneously. This puts pressure on employers to take you more seriously and make hiring decisions more swiftly. Therefore, the purpose of this post is not only to help score a job, but to help you score more job offers.
If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know that I’m all about harsh truths. My experience in the sales industry has taught me that when someone or something is underperforming, excuses get tossed around like confetti in a hurricane. Sales trainers blame inside sales teams, inside sales teams blame sales trainers for poor sales training and negotiation training, sales execs blame sales trainers who blame inside sales teams who blame sales execs. And of course, everyone tries to blame marketing. And on and on and on.
Movies are often wildly unrealistic, but there is one cinematic gaff that sticks in my craw more than all the others combined. Two people meet cute, perhaps at a bar, or an ice rink, or whatever the kids are doing these days. And they talk. They flirt. They laugh. And then one of them asks the other out.
What Makes a Good Sales Kickoff? GalleryField Sales Team, GenY, Inside Sales Team, Metrics, Pipeline, Process, Sales, Sales Development Rep, sales forecasting, sales leadership, sales management, sales methodology, sales philosophy, sales process, Sales Team, Sales Training, SDR, Strategy, Team Building
I will be presenting my own session on November 15th, 2016 at the Crush Q4 Sales Event. I’ll share my tips for closing more revenue in Q4 with NEAT SellingTM. In this session you will walk away with specific strategies for navigating the sale as well as tactical strategize to implement immediately in every sales conversation you have in the future.
Over the last few years, we’ve talked sales with more people than I can count, and while our conversations run the gamut of sales topics, a select few never fail to make an appearance: BANT, ANUM, and AN.
For the uninitiated,
- BANT is a sales qualification process based on a prospect’s Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeframe.
- ANUM is a sales qualification process based on a prospect’s Authority, Need, Urgency, and Money.
- AN, which was inspired by ANUM, focuses on the top of the sales funnel, where Authority and Need are discussed first.
Webster’s Dictionary defines Efficiency as…
Oh wait, this isn’t a graduation speech. It’s a wake-up call. Something the sales industry is in dire need of.
See, in the past few years, sales organizations, have started to heed what those of us in inside sales have been saying for over a decade:
THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY!
Generally speaking, the workflow of a successful sales operation looks something like this:
- The Sales Development Representative (SDR) qualifies a lead and passes it to a salesperson.
- The salesperson contacts the lead and wins their business, then passes the new customer to the Customer Success Team.
- A Customer Success Representative (CSR) helps the customer with installation, support, maintenance, and increases the likelihood for long-term customer success.
You all know Jill Konrath. Or at least you should. She has nearly ¼ million LinkedIn followers. Her book Selling To Big Companies was chosen as one of Fortune Magazine’s eight “must read” sales books. She also wrote Agile Selling and SNAP Selling, both of which soared to #1 on Amazon within hours of their release. In 2012, she was inducted into Top Sales World’s Top Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame.
Needless to say, she’s kind of a big deal.
Which makes it a huge deal, at least for me, to have been able to chat with her about being one of the top sales people on the planet.
After hearing “you should be in sales” one too many times, Elli Rigolfi finally decided to see what all the fuss was about. Turns out everyone was right. Rigolfi found a natural fit in the sales development world, and went on to source $1 million for the employee engagement app company SocialChorus.
We got a chance to pick Rigolfi’s brain about what she does, what inspires her, and of course, women in sales.
After cutting her teeth in business development, Gabrielle Smith took her skill set to the sales arena, and generated significant profits for companies like Cloud Sherpas and Amazon Web Services. Now she’s an executive sales strategy consultant working with both start-ups and enterprises to drive market growth.
Needless to say, we were eager to speak to someone with such a rich and varied sales background. Luckily, Smith was more than happy to share her story.
Last year started with a bang
This year started with soul.
If you are in the inside sales, sdr, and frankly any part of the sales community and missed Rainmaker16 hosted by SalesLoft, then you surely missed another amazing inside sales showcase.
We specifically use the word showcase because to call it an event cannot do it justice. In just two short years Rainmaker has become a leading destination for anyone wanting to learn about starting or growing their inside sales and SDR sales teams with precision, accuracy, efficiency, and effectiveness.
2015 started with a beat by incorporating the Atlanta Falcons drumline. 2016 started with soul led by the Voice of Atlanta. They set the stage for not just a conference but an amazing reminder “of what life is all about.” And they were not singing about making money. Their set list included:
- Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
- Man In The Mirror
They were there to remind us that while we all love sales it is important to ground yourself. It’s ok to be passionate about your work but it is important to focus on your life outside of work. In fact studies show that giving back and helping others will actually help you be better at your “regular job” because it will energize you and help propel you to learn more, work harder, smarter, and passionately. When you do those things, goals are surpassed, walls broken down, and yes, commissions can be made.
While there may be no description on a paycheck of “how”, you will always carry the emotional quotient from your own of accomplishments.
After the music subsided. SalesLoft did something completely different. They kept it mellow. There was no great fanfare, no big light show or whoo-guy yelling. They gently walked us through a few customers who use Salesloft to change the world.
One of the most inspiring stories was from a woman, Tina Lai, from UpWork. Her story was amazing touching and sincere. She attended Rainmaker last year in 2015 and went on to build and lead the SDR team which she came back from Rainmaker with the vision for doing so. Her passion for SDR success goes way beyond building a team. Upwork truly has the impact not only on the companies who use them, but more importantly the hard workers who do the tasks. Upwork has the ability to give people opportunity in life they may not have been able to achieve even just a few years ago. Thanks for sharing not only the story of Upwork, but the journey you encountered along the way to success, very inspiring.
As Kyle Porter took to the stage the only thing you could not help but notice the shoes. (@benioff, you’ve got step up your game!) Seriously though Kyle launched into the big news of the day, the Sales Development Cloud. If you’ve been engaged with inside sales in the last few years there has been a growing concern or too many. And of too many working in silos without easy access. This is the first step towards greater coordination at the top of the sales funnel many of us have been waiting.
With the vision portion taken care of the conference moved into the more strategic and tactical arena. It started with Mr. Funnelholic Craig Rosenberg ofTOPO delivering the Account Based Everything. In typical TOPO style Craig brought a strategic vision backed by research, insight, and practical advice everyone could use immediately.
Then came Game of Thrones…well, sort of… After an amazing video introduction that let you the sales world isn’t shifting but in fact morphing at a rapid pace, the Bruce Springsteen of the inside sales revolution, Jacco took the stage. Jacco reminded us that our customers do not want to be sold, led, or manipulated. They merely want to be educated. If you can educate them in a meaningful and purposeful way then the deal will close that much more easily.
And for the last main session before lunch John Barrows took the stage.. John showed us all exactly what personalization means. He pulled back the curtain and exposed not only the technique he teaches, but the ones he practices himself.
Afternoon breakout sessions were equally fun and exciting. As much as we’d love to go into detail on each one because we know they were all good based on the feedback, we simply won’t be able to. So for now, check out the topics, speakers, and either a) be glad you were there or b) start booking your calendar for next year so you don’t miss it!
- How to Balance the Art of Science and Sales Development
- The Real Story Behind Scaling Modern Revenue
- Using Sales Loft to Build A World Class Sales Development Organization
- How The Hell Do You Get More Leads
- How Not to F-Up ABSD
- Breaking Bad Habits With SalesLoft
- Measuring The Pulse of The Culture of Your Team
- Founders’ Perspective: The Importance of Investing In Your Sales Development Team inside sales, sdr
- Sh*t My SDRs Do: A SalesLoft Power User Session
- The Sales Development Playbook Bill Belichick Would Steal
- How To Specialize Your Sales Team So You Can Actually Scale
- SalesLoft And That Hotline Bling
And yeah, that was the end of Day 1.
Day 2 of course kicked off fabulously as well. Albeit a little later in the morning. Thanks SalesLoft for recognizing that!
Amazing Main Stage Sessions
- Trish Bertuzzi and Highlights From The Sales Development Playbook
- Steve Richard of Exec Vision: Live Call Recording Analysis (Shout out to the the two members of SalesLoft who allowed their own live calls to be played and coached in front of 600+ people!)
- Derek Grant – The Art of War for Sales
Gary reminded us that if you are in sales. You are not just a transctors. He also reminded us not be headline readers, but to be the one who makes the headline.
Our interpretation of this means you must always be learning. More specifically, as you continue to learn and hone your craft you will move yourself not only to the center of the curve but eventually be ahead of the curve. This is what separates good from great.
If the conversations that occurred outside of the sessions are any indication. It seems like Rainmaker17 will be something to plan for next year!
If the conversations that occurred outside of the sessions are any indication. It seems like Rainmaker17 will be something to plan for next year!
Here are a few of the comments heard during the two days.
- OMG, I am so glad I came here
- I was just brought on board to build an SDR team about a month ago. I decided to come to Rainmaker first just to be sure I am focusing right. Boy am I a glad I came.
- Thank you everyone for sharing your stories of success and mistakes. This is going to help me stay focused and hopefully make fewer of my own mistakes.
- Dude, that session about not F-ing up ABSD was the best EVER!
- I wish there were more sessions about Account Based Everything
- I was hoping to leave with a handful of ideas, I’ve got about 25!
- I typically hate conferences, this one changed my mind.
Thank you again to Kyle, Rob, Sean Kester, Katie Rogers, Tami McQueen, and the whole friggin SalesLoft Crew. We were fortunate enough to attend Rainmaker last year and it blew us away. This year you blew our minds! See you at #RM17
Were you at #RM16? Feel free to share your favorite moments.
Last year, the scalable, sustainable, and oh so trainable sales development representative (SDR) emerged as the sales industry’s newest darling. So as we head into the gooey center of 2016, we wanted to shine our spotlight on someone excelling in an SDR position. Fortunately, we found that someone in Kiasa Eriksen of Pushpay.
For those who don’t know, Pushpay, a New Zealand-based mobile app company, is one of the top mobile payment platforms in the faith and charities sectors. Kiasa Eriksen, just the second SDR to join the team, has helped build out the department to over 40 staff, and now manages a team of 12.
Despite only being with the company for a year and some change, Eriksen has already established herself as a sales leader and role model for future saleswomen. Her passion for the job and quick climb up the corporate ladder also peaked our interest, so we thought we’d invite her for a chat.
AES CAN’T UPSELL
THERE ARE NO GOOD SALES MANAGERS AND
SDRs ARE A GATEWAY DRUG
Given our experienc in working with start-ups and inside sales teams, we were recently asked by Brisk.io to do a couple of blog posts. This one was originally posted on their blog site butwe wanted to post here for our readers as well in case you haven’t yet heard of Brisk.io (Check them out though, awesome value prop!)
Richard Harris has been training salespeople for a long time via his consultancy The Harris Consulting Group. He’s also The Director of Sales Training and Consulting Services at Sales Hacker. Harris sees the same sales problems come up again and again, especially in early stage SaaS companies.
“You have people with early stage companies who don’t even know how to have a sales conversation, “ says Harris. “They’ve created some niche. They’ve been able to generate some interest, but they don’t know how to ask a question. All we have right now is a bunch of technology to get us into meetings, but we don’t know what the fuck to say when we get there.” Harris’s job is to teach people what to say, but training is only half the story. (more…)
Now that we’ve (hopefully) all recovered from a weekend of New Year’s festivities, let’s take stock of the damage done to our sales lexicon in 2015, with eye on improving for 2016.
We all know that sales people love to talk. Whether you’re an SDR, BDR, Inside Sales Rep, or Field Rep, one of our biggest challenges (us included) is just shutting up. Furthermore, there is a big misunderstanding that everyone seems to looking past when it comes to the best attributes of a sales person.
Many people think that the single most important thing that a sales person should have is the ability to close. We disagree with this statement down to its very core. The single most important attribute a sales person can have is to be an effective communicator. If you can communicate effectively, then the sales should follow. (more…)