Editor’s Note: Max Altschuler sums up some of the key findings from the info-packed Boston Sales Hacker 2014 Conference. If you’re located in the Western US, check out the San Francisco Sales Hacker Conference on November 6th.
“Salespeople can struggle with getting referrals because they don’t keep in touch with their past clients. It’s not always about selling. It’s about ensuring that you’re providing value. The best way to get referrals is to go back to old customers with value such as job opportunities, referrals for their businesses, market information that they find valuable, etc. By keeping the relationship fresh, you’ll give yourself a reason to contact your network.”
Insight #2: From “How Datanyze Bootstrapped to $1M ARR with Just 1 Engineer and 4 Salespeople” by Ilya Semin, Founder and CEO of Datanyze, @ISemin
“We’ve used a data-driven approach to learn how to send great outbound emails by refining our emails to find out what emails had the best response rate.
We eat our own dogfood: If your product is designed to help others to sell, you should be using your product also.
We try to respond to customers within 15 seconds of them communicating with us. Why 15 seconds? We’ve found that prospects move quickly and their attention can be easily diverted. We want to communicate with folks quickly.”
Insight #3: From “Hubspot’s Science to Building a Scalable Sales Team” by Mark Roberge, CRO of Hubspot, @MarkRoberge
“We’ve aggregated the traits of our sales hires against their sales performance and performed a regression analysis to determine the traits for our top salespeople. The top 5 traits: coachability, curiousness, intelligence, work ethic and prior success.
We’ve scaled our sales team through teaching a common sales methodology. We use exams and certifications to measure quality and consistency coming out of training. Our sales reps may have different strengths and skills, but they’ll come out of our sales training program with a common set of skills and one unified sales methodology.
One great content generation hack you should employ at your company: put your sales leaders, marketing leaders, engineering leaders in front of journalists once-a-week for an hour to do content marketing for you.”
“Stats suggest that 67% of the sales process already happens before your customers speak with you, so you’d better learn how to get your customers to sell for you. Use the DCE model – Delight, Connect, Educate.”
Insight #5: From “Getting Around Gatekeepers: The Key to Unlocking the Mystery” by Jeff Hoffman, Founder & CEO of MJ Hoffman & Associates, @MJHoffman
“Official executive assistants (EAs) play a huge role within a company, and they work closely with the execs we want to communicate to. We hurt our ability to sell to EA’s when we try to get around this person by acting like we have trust when we haven’t earned it. We also need to understand that the EA is valid proxy for their executive. If you sell effectively to an EA, they’ll let your information pass through to the executive that they support.
When you deal with “volunteer” gatekeepers, go “broad” in the organization, try to aim higher within the organization first. Don’t call an inbound lead first – call someone 2 or 3 times higher in the organization.”
Insight #6: From “All’s Fair in Love & Sales: How to Hack the Sales and Marketing Relationship” by Cece Bazar and Blake Harris of OpenView Venture Partners, @HowBazar and @BHarris
“Improving the sales and marketing relationship boils down to communication. Often, the VP of Sales and VP of Marketing come up with two different definitions of the truth when it comes to leads. Create a “one version of the truth” dashboard that is constructed by one person in the company.
A little bit of healthy tension between sales and marketing is normal. But you are the Mom and Dad of revenue, so be in close proximity to each other.”
“Create your own Outbound Index. Use it, and monitor it, to figure out the types of technologies you should purchase to improve your effectiveness.
Insight #8: From “Everything You Need to Know to Master Sales Development” by Kyle Porter, Founder & CEO at SalesLoft, @KylePorter
“Hiring sales development reps (SDRs) is a priority for our team. We treat them on equal footing with our sales and marketing teams, and they report up to our CEO. Look for reps who can punch above their weight class and have an entrepreneurial attitude. Also look for people that would classify themselves as being the top 1% of being positive, supportive, and self-starting.”
Insight #9: From “What Sales Teams Must Focus On to Scale to Nine Figures” by Mike McGuinness, SVP of Global Sales at SmartBear, @MrMcGu
“Make sure you have a farm system for your team. When you grow your team, your hiring process for lower level managers must be repeatable. Hire people at appropriate cost-levels so you can scale based on performance. Scale requires simplicity; limit the number of variations in your company. Keep an eye on performance ratios that can spell trouble down the road.”
Insight #10: From “How ToutApp Grows High Performing Reps From Scratch” by Tawheed Kader, Founder & CEO at ToutApp, @Tawheed
“Experienced reps can sell. But cannot necessarily build. Inexperienced reps can’t necessarily sell. But they can build. We’ve had success hiring 10X-ers, provide a steady progression into a selling role, and following an iterative process of learning and building a selling system.”
““Rich” or “successful” is not one of the top 10 qualities of great sales managers, because part getting rich or being successful is having good luck. To improve your sales management skills, target three things that you want to improve and come up with a plan for improvement. For example, to improve your communication, follow-up via email within 24 hours to everyone who emails you.”
There you have it – 11 insights from our amazing panel of SaaS leaders. Be sure to check out the rest of the conference sessions on Sales Hacker.