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10,000 Leads in 10 Minutes: Using Web Data to Generate High Quality Sales Leads in Mass

*Editors Note: Guest post by Andrew Fogg, co-founder and Chief Data Officer of Import.io. Import.io a free tool that allows you to transform the web into a table of data or an API quickly and easily without having to write any code. This blog post is based on a presentation he gave at HustleCon on August 1st 2014. Slides are embedded below.

 

What is a lead?

Ok, let’s start with the basics. Leads represent the first stage of the sales process.  In its simplest form a lead is any “person or entity that has an interest and authority to purchase your product or service”. Or in other words: someone you can sell to.

Sounds good. So, what information do you need about that person or entity for it to be an actionable lead? A good rule of thumb is to look for the information that you would find on a business card, i.e. a name, associated company and contact details.

Where do leads come from?

The most traditional way to get leads is by buying databases of telephone numbers, email addresses or mailing addresses. As you can imagine, these lists are immense, which gives you a high quantity of leads, but the quality is notoriously very poor.

Alternatively, you can attend trade shows and other industry events and collect business cards the old fashioned way. Or you can stalk people on social media and try to get in touch with them that way, through channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Leads generated in this way usually have great quality, but come with a high time-cost which limits the quantity that you will be able to generate.

But wait, there’s another way!

I want to share with you a new approach to lead-generation that will deliver both quantity and quality – it is based on web data. This approach was developed by some of our earliest users, and it is both ingenious and simple:

  1. Find a website where your ideal user can be found
  2. Build an API to that website (using Import.io naturally) and extract as much data about each lead as you can
  3. Pull that data into a spreadsheet

That’s it. Three simple steps and it takes about 10 minutes, after which you will have thousands of quality leads to work with.

Show me that again!

Right, let’s look at each of those steps in a bit more detail. To help you visualize how this can work for your business, I’m going to step through an example. Let’s imagine that I’m in commercial real estate and want to talk to real estate brokers.

Step 1: Find your ideal user

The first step will require a little bit of imagination and thinking on your part. Where your ideal user can be found of course depends on who that person is. You’ll probably need to spend sometime getting to know your user and looking around the web to see where they hang out. Is it a forum? A professional association? Are they on social media?

The key here is to be as specific as possible when defining your ideal user (lead). The more specific you are the more targeted your messaging can be. In our real estate example, I am going to use this real estate listing site in NYC. If I click through to one of those properties I can see the broker’s name, email (as a link from his name) and phone number – that’s the data I’m after!

Step 2 & 3: Extract the data and get it in a spreadsheet

I’ve combined steps 2 and 3 together here, because they are closely tied to the same process.

To get this data I could use a number of different options. The simplest way to do this is to build a Crawler, which will then go to each part of the site and pull data from all the pages that match the ones I train it on. This means I will end up with a big list of names and contact information which I can export into Excel, CSV or Google Sheets.

That’s great, but Crawlers only create static data sets, which means that to get new data from this site I would have to re-crawl the whole site – and that would take a while. Instead, I can do something a tad more complicated by building an Extractor to one page. Then I use the URL pattern of that page to generate all the other URLs for that site and use this batch search Google Sheet to pass all of those URLs through the Extractor. This has the benefit of being able to quickly refresh whenever I need to.

A quick note about getting the email addresses. You’ll notice, if you visit the page, that the email address is displayed as a link to the estate agent’s name. When I map this data, I need to make sure I map it as a link. It may look like I’ve only mapped his name, but when I export the data into Excel or Google Sheets, I will get one column with his name and another column with the text of the link – in this case his email address.

In this particular example, I would also need to do a bit of data cleansing, because many of the properties are being sold by the same estate agent so I am likely to end up with a lot of duplicates. This is easily done in either Excel/Google Sheets or most mass e-mailing software like MailChimp.

Contact those leads

Use the data you collected to create a conversational, extremely personalized message to send to each lead. Seriously. Make it freaking personal. I CANNOT emphasize this enough. Something like this should give you an idea of how to begin:

Hi [first name], I was browsing [website name] and I came accross your profile. I noticed that you mentioned [profile keyword], and I thought you would be interested in what we do….

Then start sending out your messages. Be creative about the channels that you use – email isn’t the only way to contact people – try other channels like Twitter, text message, et cetera.

It’s fine to automate your messages, but don’t send out too many at once – you want to avoid appearing spammy. And remember that you are starting a conversation with a real person and you need to be able to respond and engage as people start replying to you.  If you send out 1,000 messages and you get 1,000 responses you will be swamped.  10 messages a day is a good start and go from there.

Eat your own dog food

At import.io, we actually followed these exact steps to bring in new users. We’ve created a platform that allows anyone to turn a website into data without the need to write any code. A key group who benefit from our platform are developers, they can save a lot of time and effort using Import.io instead of writing code to get web data.

There are lots of developers on oDesk, so we built an Extractor to all 13,000 who mention “scraping” as one of the services that they provide.  We pulled this list of users into a spreadsheet. Then, we created a personalized message template inviting them to apply for a real job on oDesk that requires the use of import.io. The message also quickly outlined the benefits of using our platform over traditional methods and included a link to our website.

Quick tip: use Google URL Builder to send out your link so that you can track how well each different campaign is doing.  You can also shorten the link using the Google URL Shortener.  If you are using Google Apps for Business you can use your own domain name, which makes it look less spammy.

Next, we built a connector to oDesk, this time to the messaging system.  The API logs in to oDesk, navigates to an individual user’s profile and sends them the personalized message. Every time a user follows the link to our site, we can follow them all the way through to account creation on our platform in our own analytics.

Using this method we have begun experimenting with getting 1,000s of quality leads to our site.

Credit where credit’s due

Props to Matt Ellsworth from Storefront who pioneered a lot of these methods for lead generation. If you want more information on how to use his methods for your business, you can take his Udemy course or come take his workshop at the upcoming San Francisco Sales Hacker Conference and Workshop.

 
 

The Gives & Gets of Negotiations

*Editors Note: John Barrows is the top sales trainer for industry leading tech companies. He trains reps from Salesforce, LinkedIn, Box, Marketo, Zendesk, and more. Come see him speak and attend his exclusive Prospecting Workshop at the Sales Hacker Conference in SF on November 6th/7th.

It’s All About the Win-Win

True negotiations are all about coming to a mutual agreement on something where both parties feel like they got something out of the deal. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t “win” a negotiation by making the other person lose.  Both parties need to give and get along the way. The more equal those gives and gets are, the healthier the relationship is and can become.

The problem in sales is that we tend to be ‘givers’.  We give and give and give and expect one very large thing in the end as our ‘get’ (i.e. signed contract) and we think we’ve earned it because we did everything they asked for. However, if we give throughout the process without getting much in return, we condition the client to treat us like a doormat.  They end up having little respect for us towards the end which is why they either keep asking for things (discounts) or they just flat out disappear on us and don’t even give us the courtesy of a call back.  We need to find a way to create and condition equality from the start of the relationship.

Creating Equality in Negotiations

To create equality, most negotiations focuses on a quid pro quo approach to getting things in return for what you’re giving away which is necessary sometimes but tends to lead to a more contentious relationship.  There is something else that can be even more powerful to leverage which is a human condition called the Rule of Reciprocity.  This rule effectively states that we (as humans) are all bound, even driven to repay debts.  We don’t like owning anyone anything.

If someone asks us for something, the receiver actually feels obligated to give them something in return. The sooner we ask for something in return, the easier it is for us to get. By understanding all the gives and gets along the way and matching them up, we can know exactly what and when to be asking for in order to move the deal through the pipeline to closure, or get out before it’s too late.

Don’t Jump to Discounting

Often times people jump to discounting to speed up negotiations. Discounting has such a negative impact in so many ways that it’s worth pointing out a few things to gain some perspective.

  • The average S&P 1000 company would suffer a 12.8% drop in profitability by giving a mere 1% discount assuming no increase in volume
  • Salespeople make a bigger deal about price than buyers do (Salespeople (8.3) Buyer (6.9)
  • Whoever feels the most pressure will make the most concessions
  • Discounts kills credibility and creates a negative perception of you and your solution
  • Discounts set the stage for future discounts

So what’s the best way to combat discounting you ask? Well, there are some negotiation and objection handling techniques that can help but the best way I’ve ever come across is quite simple, just have a BIG FAT PIPELINE.  The more legitimate, healthy deals we have in our pipeline the less desperate we are to close deals, and the more confident we are in dealing with people who are trying to squeeze us. We can also work more along the lines of the client’s buying cycle than our selling cycle. Too often we try and force a client into our buying cycle which typically is driven by the end of the month or quarter. We all know Sales should be about the client and not about us, so we need to do what we can to get them to buy when they’re ready to buy, not when we’re ready to sell.

This is why prospecting on a regular basis (even month or quarter end) is so critical. Spend 30 minutes a day prospecting in some way shape or form. It can be cold calls, direct e-mails, searching through linked in, asking for referrals, whatever, just do it.  If you’re sick of feeling cheap and using discounts to close all your deals then prospect every day to have a consistently full pipeline and see what happens to your confidence and abilities to deal with discounting. I’m running an exclusive Sales Hacker Workshop in SF on November 7th where you can learn all of my best tactics and strategies for prospecting and building massive pipelines.

 

If you’re interested in learning how to develop a simple scorecard that you can use to objectively measure the health of any opportunity in your pipeline and improve your forecasting accuracy you can join me where I’ll be speaker at the Sales Hacker Conference in San Francisco on Thursday, November 6th, 2014.

Important Lessons Learned Growing From 0-80 Reps in Under a Year

*Editors Note: This is a guest post from the current VP of Sales at Zenefits and former Director of Sales at Echosign, Sam Blond.

 

When I joined Zenefits last December, there were only 18 employees and just two people actually selling. Fast forward 11 months and we’re closing in on 350 employees, including more than 100 in our sales department.

As the VP of Sales for an organization undergoing such dramatic change at so frantic a pace, I’ve learned a lot about how to grow and, just as importantly, how to manage this increasingly large and complex sales force.

I’ll share more about what’s worked well for us in my presentation at the Sales Hacker Conference on November 6th in San Francisco. In the meantime, here are some quick-hitting best practices I’ve had success with.

Lessons learned growing the sales force

1)   Use multiple recruiters – and get to know them all!

If you’re scaling quickly, align yourself with several external recruiters. Even if you’re already working with someone and he’s been excellent, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. At Zenefits, we use five recruiters and very rarely do two of them send us the same candidate.

By the way – do what you can to make friends with these guys! Get to know your recruiters. Take them out for a drink, meet up for lunch, stay in touch.  That way, you’re top of mind when they find the best candidates.

2)   Talent costs money

It’s so important to pay high-performing sales reps well. In order to attract great sales people, you must become known as a place that pays well.

Feel free to reward performance in other ways like award ceremonies, Presidents Clubs, etc. if you wish, just remember – money comes first. People might stay with their company if they feel like they’re well recognized for a job well done, but they don’t take a job for the award ceremonies, they do it for the money.

Building Zenefits’ reputation as a place that rewards its sales people has been a big focus of mine and I’m proud to say that in my time here we’ve had just one person decline an offer… and they called back a few months later asking to get on board.

3)   Hold off on hiring a sales exec until you’re big enough to attract a “real” one

It’s always dangerous to put make hard-and-fast rules that will be appropriate for everyone, but in general, I recommend companies get to at least $1 million in recurring revenue with at least two reps closing business and a good pipeline of leads before they bring on a VP of Sales.

Why?

Because, quite simply, that’s what the candidates are looking for from you. And until those things exist, it will be difficult to attract a qualified candidate.

Another side note here – Often times when a VP of Sales comes aboard they bring some sort of team with them. So, all you individual contributors reading – align yourself with your VP because at some point they will probably move to a new company and take you with them. Three of my best sales reps came with me to Zenefits and they now have equity in a great new company.

Running a rapidly growing sales force isn’t just about effectively recruiting talented sales reps and sales leadership. It also requires managing a frequently changing and increasingly complex organization, and that starts with an effective sales structure and compensation plan.

Lessons learned managing a growing sales force

1)   Specialization is good…generally speaking

About half of our sales staff is comprised of “Sales Development Reps” who do the cold calling and lead creation. The other half, our so-called “Closing Reps” are responsible for – you guessed it – closing deals.

The idea is fairly simple – if you’re focused entirely on uncovering leads, you will be better at uncovering leads. If you focus entirely on closing deals, you will be better at closing.

However, as we’ve grown we’ve recognized an opportunity for a hybrid role. Previously, our customer acquisition cost made it unproductive for our SDR’s and Closing Reps to spend their time on deals of $10,000 or less, even though we had a sizable number of those opportunities.

Now, our team of hybrid reps focuses solely on those smaller deals and works them from start to finish. This allows us to capitalize on all of those smaller opportunities without pulling the SDR’s and Closing Reps away from larger deals.

More recently, we’ve added sales support staff to further help all of our reps focus on their specific responsibilities by taking much of the non-revenue generating sales tasks off their plates.

2) If you want your reps to listen to you, set realistic quota targets

My philosophy is that at least 70% of reps should be hitting their quota. If a solid majority is not, your quota becomes unenforceable – not to mention discouraging. Think about it, if a sales rep isn’t close to hitting her number but the rest of her teammates are in striking distance of their quota, she’s likely to blame her own performance. But if she sees that half of her team is in the same position, naturally she will focus the blame on the quota (and probably rightfully so!)

Check out more of my lessons learned at the Sales Hacker Conference in San Francisco on November 6. In the meantime, share your thoughts! What’s worked for you? What hasn’t? Let us know in the comments!

 

Shorten the Sales Cycle with 3 Key Hacks

*Editors Note: Live updates from the Sales Hacker Series – Hacking the Sales Cycle in Dublin are brought to you by Betts Recruiting. Betts Recruiting helps companies teams staff and attract talent for all revenue generating roles. Follow us @BettsRecruiting. Slides from the session are embedded below the text.

This session is titled Shorten the Sales Cycle with 3 Key Hacks by the EMEA Channel Manager at HubSpotMark Stoddard (@mdstoddard).

 

Your sales process should be structured – don’t think “well it depends”. Structured so that you can define and correct your mistakes to both streamline your process and close more

STOP CLOSING AND START HELPING

  • How can I help my prospects achieve their goals? How can I solve their problems?
  • “Changes the mentality to how do I close them to how can they close me”
  • Have them disclose their goals and you can help them from there.

DEFINE YOUR TARGET PROSPECT

  • Don’t just rely on your company’s verticals, know YOUR ideal prospects
  • Find your unique experience that gives you an unfair advantage over the competition

Sales Hacker Series Dublin was Sponsored by Betts Recruiting and PipelineDeals.

Laying the Foundation for a Smooth Sales Cycle

*Editors Note: Live updates from the Sales Hacker Series – Hacking the Sales Cycle in Dublin are brought to you by Betts Recruiting. Betts Recruiting helps companies teams staff and attract talent for all revenue generating roles. Follow us @BettsRecruiting. Slides from the session are embedded below the text.

This session is titled Laying the Foundation for a Smooth Sales Cycle by the CEO of Youth Nation, Jamie White.

 

Jamie started as a flyer promoter on the street in Temple Bar district, which helped shape his confidence and sales approach. He set up Youth Nation about 1 year ago and just hired the 33rd employee

 

Jamie’s Keys to Success

“If you don’t focus on the little things, you’ll never get to the big things. Get your foundations right and you’ll grow from there.”

Know your value – you have to know what you’re offering to a customer – i.e. know how much money you can make for them and know if you can’t offer them anything

Know your customer – even Jordan Bellfour (wolf of wall street) doesn’t jump right into his pitch…ASK QUESTIONS and IDENTIFY NEEDS

Have a structure – Don’t let clients take you away from approach or get a discount

Recognize Bad Clients – GO AWAY! Don’t be afraid to say no – some people LOVE to waste your time.

Invest in yourself – Positive people attract positive results – people are attracted to interest, always work to live and people are drawn to people who generate their own interest. Be exciting.

Be honest – You can’t lie in our social media generation

It’s hard not to appreciate an honest seller – it’s the #1 commodity presently

Undersell and Overdeliver – Exceed expectations by slightly underselling yourself and then overachieve, word of mouth by customers will become your next greets marketing/salesteam

Charge Accordingly – Knowing the underselling philosophy, but be firm on your value.

 

Sales can be demoralizing, mentally and physically, so don’t undervalue yourself, find your interests, be positive, and be honest and success will come.

Sales Hacker Series Dublin was Sponsored by Betts Recruiting and PipelineDeals.

Sales Acceleration Through V2MOM and Alignment

*Editors Note: Live updates from the Sales Hacker Series – Hacking the Sales Cycle in Dublin are brought to you by Betts Recruiting. Betts Recruiting helps companies teams staff and attract talent for all revenue generating roles. Follow us @BettsRecruiting. Slides from the session are embedded below the text.

This session is titled Sales Acceleration Through V2MOM and Alignment by the VP of Sales at DataHug, Kieran Carrick (@kierancarrick).

 

Kieran helped build the EMEA headquarters for Salesforce in 2002.

What did he learn?

  • ALWAYS put the customer first – the leader’s philosophy
  • Alignment is Key – getting your philosophy into employees’ minds
  • Make every month count. There are 12 quarters, not 4!
  • It’s not just about product – business model says a lot and show how you can use your product
  • Customers start to be your best sales team
  • Specialization – differentiate inbound and outbound, let sales professionals close not prospect; some people have different skills.
  • It’s never too early for renewals
  • Education and certification drives productivity
  • More salespeople = more revenue = more growth

 

V2MOM – 1999 Alignment method by Marc Benioff for Salesforce

  • Vision
  • Values
  • Methods
  • Obstacles
  • Measures

Never forget that you need to give money to MARKETING…once you state it you must feed it!

DON’T FORGET CUSTOMER SUCCESS

Forecasting and discipline REALLY counts!

90% of open opportunities have no future meetings in the books

Make Salesforce a buddy, not a Big Brother!

Solve for the customer, the company, and the employee, & GIVE BACK!

 

Sales Hacker Series Dublin was Sponsored by Betts Recruiting and PipelineDeals.

Sales Qualification, Landmines, and Acceleration

*Editors Note: Live updates from the Sales Hacker Series – Hacking the Sales Cycle in Dublin are brought to you by Betts Recruiting. Betts Recruiting helps companies teams staff and attract talent for all revenue generating roles. Follow us @BettsRecruiting. Slides from the session are embedded below the text.

This session is titled How to Accelerate a Sales Cycle by the EMEA Director of Informatica, Charlie Weijer (@charlieweijer).

 

Content must be relative – don’t put them to sleep

So how do you speed up Sales Cycle? GET QUALIFICATION PERFECT!

You should sit down at the end of every deal and ask, “why did I win the deal?”

It helps you understand on a positive note, what the pain points identified were and the gains you were able to demonstrate. You’ll get some negative feedback that should help you in the future as well.

Now you have a real relationship, and it’ll help you develop this, and maybe future accounts into even larger ones.

 

Landmines?

  • Basic: ignore competitive threats – never underestimate.
  • Budget and ballpark figures – be careful!
  • Don’t ignore the customer’s industry! Know their business.
  • PRODUCT KNOWLEDGE
  • Selling too low
  • MCP – Mutual Close Plan
  • JEP – Joint Execution Plan
  •  Keep the prospects on an agreed timeline – how do you keep it on time?
  • Get early insight – am I talking to the decision maker?

 

DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE – you’ll get strung along. Validate and qualify EVERY STEP.

DON’T GET TRAPPED : close every step of the way, always agree on next steps, qualify, qualify, qualify, don’t waste time without MUTUAL commitment, don’t spend lots of time working on proposals when you don’t understand the clear next steps.

 

THE BEST SALES CHARACTERISTICS (even though none of these are really true)

  • Naturally curious/interested
  • People who truly believe they can do well for their customers
  • Hold themselves accountable

 

Sales Hacker Series Dublin was Sponsored by Betts Recruiting and PipelineDeals.

11 Key Insights from the Boston Sales Hacker 2014 Conference

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.

Insight #1: From Building Your Influence Pyramid by Chris Lynch, Partner at Atlas Venture, @Lynch_BigData

“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: FromHow 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: FromHubspot’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.”

Insight #4: From “Your Customers Are Your Best Sales Channel by Emmanuelle Skala, VP of Sales at Influitive, @ElleSkala

“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.”

Insight #7: From “Prospecting & Understanding the Outbound Index by Peter Gracey, Founder & CEO of Quota Factory, @Peter_Gracey

“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: FromEverything 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: FromWhat 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: FromHow ToutApp Grows High Performing Reps From Scratchby 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.”

Insight #11: From “Top 10 Qualities of Great Sales Managers by Matt Bellows, Founder & CEO at Yesware, @MBellows

““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.

 

Building Your Influence Pyramid

*Editors Note: Live updates from the Sales Hacker Conference Boston are brought to you by PipelineDeals. PipelineDeals is sales and CRM software trusted by thousands of companies to increase sales. Follow us @pipelinedeals.

This session is titled Building Your Influence Pyramid by Chris Lynch, Partner at Atlas Venture

Be the Man! Sales begins and ends with salespeople. As a salesperson, you cannot control all parts of a company or the product. With that in mind, I encourage all salespeople to focus on the one thing that they can completely control ­– themselves.

How can you make one customer turn into 100 customers?

You have to focus on referrals, past clients, current clients, and finally on future clients. Whenever I begin to sell a new product, I focus on cultivating/redeveloping relationships with prior companies or people that I have sold to. These relationships are incredibly important to me. Customers continue to buy from me because they know that I’m going to turn my company inside-out in order to make them satisfied.

Look for referrals

In addition to selling to prior customers, I focus on cultivating referrals. Referrers can be one of the best sources of new business for your company.These people can serve as a reference point and validation for your future clients. When your customer engages on your behalf and verifies the value, you can shorten your sales cycle and multiply the lifetime value of ecosystem that you’ve cultivated.

Build Your Network

Often times, salespeople 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 like: 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.

Remember: There is one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life. Reciprocity. People don’t like to be sold, they like to buy.

5 metrics for scaling your team

  1. Lead Generation
  2. Conversion
  3. Activity Ratios
  4. Pipeline Flow
  5. Sales Trajectory

In summary: sell yourself to sell your product or service, identify your customer ecosystem, and build a lasting network.

 

What Sales Teams Must Focus On to Scale to Nine Figures

*Editors Note: Live updates from the Sales Hacker Conference Boston are brought to you by PipelineDeals. PipelineDeals is sales and CRM software trusted by thousands of companies to increase sales. Follow us @pipelinedeals.

This session is titled What Sales Teams Must Focus On to Scale to Nine Figures by Mike McGuinness, SVP of Global Sales at SmartBear

Today I’m going to highlight some questions to consider as you begin to scale. Before you talk about scaling, you have to assume that the following three things are already met.

  • The Product Works
  • The Market Exists
  • Your Sales Model Works

If these three things do not already exist for your company, you are not ready to scale yet. So what are the things to consider when you’re beginning to scale.

The Second Lieutenant

This is the first level manager in your organization. Who is this person, how were they chosen, and what skills do they have? You need to make sure that you’re focusing on the qualities of this first managerial leader at your company. This person should have the ability to coach your lower level reps, and your hiring process for these lower level managers must be repeatable.

Moneyball

How can you hire people at a cost-level that you can handle so that you can scale? I call this playing “moneyball” in the market. One way to hire people at a cost-level you can handle is through having incentive packages well aligned to your scaling goals.

What’s your farm system?

There are organizations that have great farm systems, and you can create a great one at your company. With that being said, your BDR program is not your farm system.

Why do “A” developmental players want to join your team?

Make sure that you understand why these developmental players want to join your team. They may be mission driven, career driven, or have a strong desire to make money with a growing company. If they only want to join you because of money, your sales team is going to struggle. Invest in your sales team by building up your teams skills and building their careers.

Henry Ford Had it Right

Limit the number of variations that you have in your company. You can’t customize everything for everyone on your team. The worst mistake that I see company’s make is that they pander to early high performers too much.

In a young company, your territory is either growing or shrinking.

If your territory is growing, that’s bad news. Your territory should be geographically getting smaller because you’re getting more prospects in a given area of marketplace. If your territory is determined by a specific vertical or market segment, look for this to get smaller as well.

Scale requires simplicity.

The world is a big place and there are lots of opportunities in the developed and developing world. As you grow and scale your team, you are going to begin to grow globally. I generally recommend that companies try to focus on the developed world first cause their sales process is similar to the sales process in the US. I have a 90/10 rule to decide where to grow (e.g. focus on selling in countries whose sales processes are 90% the same as the US). More developing countries may have vastly different sales processes and you’ll have to tailor your processes to meet these areas.

Canaries & Ratios

As you start to scale your company, you need pay close attention to proverbial “canaries in the coal mine” that could spell trouble for your company. These could include the following:

  • $$$ per Quota/Month
  • Reps Per Manager
  • Reps Per BDR
  • Reps Per SE
  • Reps Per CAM
  • CAMs per Channel Mgr
  • Reps per Sales Ops
  • Commission Stack $$$

As these begin to change, you need to do research to identify what is causing the change so that you can pivot in the appropriate way.

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