Thank you to everyone who attended and participated in our successful Sales Machine 2017 event in New York! We had a great time and can’t wait until 2018’s event. Here is our 2017 Sales Machine Recap, breaking down key takeaways and some highlights from individual sessions.
Editor’s Note: Special shout out to Jeremey Donovan, SVP & Head of Sales Strategy at GLG (Gerson Lehrman Group) for the insights.
Sales Machine Recap: Top 8 Takeaways
Cold Outreach – This is often highly ineffective. Instead, focus on: (a) seeking referrals from delighted customers (b) active inbound demand generation (request to become a client; request for demo), (c) passive inbound demand generation (webinar, whitepaper, etc.), and (d) warm outreach with highly disciplined and personalized sequences.
Hiring Is Not Always The Answer – You cannot meet a current year sales gap by hiring. Current year hires drive business next year and beyond. If you have a gap, the only viable answer is marketing and sales execution.
Get It On The Books Or It’s Not Happening – Nothing is counted in forecast unless it has a next scheduled meeting.
Objection Handling With Preparation – Focus on WHY NOT? In other words, do a pre-mortem to identify red-flags. Why won’t they buy? Manager should ask this of reps and reps should ask this of prospects.
Lead Revival Still Works – Recycle leads from closed lost deals, checking in with real value every 90 days.
Goals via AMP – Set monthly goals and share daily performance covering AMP = activities, meeting, & pipeline.
Leverage Reps Based On Their Strengths – Use hybrid hunter-farmer reps when accounts have significant up-sell and/or cross-sell potential that AEs must have significant influence over. Otherwise, separate into specialized hunters and farmers (aka. Customer success / account managers).
Don’t Neglect Your Brand – Manage your online brand/presence since prospects will Google you and look you up on social media (esp. LinkedIn).
The XYZ’s of Selling (Jeffrey Gitomer)
Don’t chase your customers, have them chase you – This happens when you build loyalty with existing customers by delivering exceptional value after the sale. Consistent value creation builds loyalty which serves as the fuel for referrals. Stated another way, deliver a “first class” customer experience.
Don’t find prospect’s pain, find their pleasure – rooted in their WHY. [JD: Frankly, I think this is a false dichotomy. Solving need/pain leads to prospect happiness/success.]
A. Put yourself in front of people who can buy from you and give them value first
B. Walk in prepared both in terms of them and in terms of you.
Manage your online brand/presence – Prospects will Google you and look you up on social media (esp. LinkedIn)
Build relationships by asking emotional questions – People want to do business with their friends. Examples: (a) ‘Where did you grow up?’ instead of ‘Where are you from?’ (b) ‘When I say (product/service) what one word comes to mind?’
Don’t talk (i.e. brag) about yourself – Instead, you should leverage references and voice-of-customer testimonials.
Love to learn – (speaker cited Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, and Earl Nightingale).
The Future of Sales: What to Know, Do, & Prepare For (Tiffani Bova, Cate Gutowski, Sam Lee)
You’re not selling a product anymore – Most of the time, you are not selling a product or service, you are selling business transformation.
A. Lead scoring/prioritization.
B. Recommending next activity in opportunity management.
C. Recommending next activity in customer success.
Show me you know me – Leverage peer-to-peer executive introductions (your execs and theirs) in new business and renewals.
Scaling Your Sales Team: The Do’s and Don’ts (Sam Jacobs, Kristen Habacht, Bill Sexton)
The Sales Stack – The SDR + AE + sales specialist “stack” is only viable for large ($100K+) deal sizes. If you deal sizes are smaller, esp. < $10K, then you need a much lower cost of sales structure.
Sales Comes Last – Product first, then marketing, then sales.
Outbound sales is highly ineffective – Instead, focus on demand generation.
Smaller companies should build out sales ops in advance– Don’t wait until the last minute.
Sales Ops Defined As –
- Tech stack
Hire reps to meet demand – Not (proactively) to create demand. You cannot meet a current year sales gap by hiring. Current year hires drive business next year and beyond. If you have a gap, the only viable answer is marketing and sales execution.
Maintain high hiring standards – Crucial for growth and culture.
Work backward from revenue – to # deals to # of opportunities to # of meetings to volume of activity to amount of needed AE capacity.
Sales and marketing technology – (CRM, marketing automation, etc.) will fail unless you first define your sales process.
Don’t Get Lost in Data – Rather than getting lost in analytics for execs, sales ops should focus on serving first-line sales managers and AEs.
Sales Coaching A.I – Explore coaching via voice analytics (Gong, VoiceOps, etc.).
Don’t hire senior people from the outside – Promote from within: SDR to AE to manager to exec. Have new hires cut their teeth on low quality leads.
Peace, Love & Dashboards: A Lesson in Stakeholder Harmony (Jeremy Wiggett, Marc Jacobs)
Keep It Specialized – At SFDC, SDRs specialize in inbound and BDRs specialize in outbound.
Key SDR metrics:
- Capacity and tenure
- Activity: calls, connects, & “flips” = opps created by SDRs, aka MQLs
- Lead quality, esp. by source
- Speed to lead since every minute counts
- Persistence – # of calls & emails per contact vs. target.
If something is not working, find the leak in the funnel: contact/lead – MQL (“stage 1” at SFDC; created by SDR) – SAL (“stage 2” at SFDC). Handoffs must be flawlessly executed so there is no lost time and no negative prospect relationship impact.
Prioritize active inbound – (ex: request for demo) above passive inbound (ex: whitepaper download) in lead scoring.
Pipeline Management: We’re Doing It Wrong! (Jason Jordan)
Sales Training – Management Training is way more important than AE training. Starting with the latter, and especially only doing the latter, is a recipe for failure.
Sales Pipeline: Bigger is not always better – A bigger pipeline is not necessarily a better pipeline. Ultimately, success is about rep productivity ($/AE/time). The amount of pipeline that is good is = quota/(win rate), rolled up on an AE by AE basis.
Less Forecasting, More Coaching – Managers should spend less time on forecasting and more time on deal coaching. There is little correlation between the former and sales productivity and strong correlation between the latter.
Segment Forecasting vs Coaching Meetings
A. Friday forecasting meeting to meet a Monday deadline
B. Tuesday deal coaching meeting to review specific opportunities.
Something’s Wrong If Managers Are Closing Deals – Managers should be cleaners, not closers. That means getting involved with AEs much earlier in the sale cycle to help qualify or disqualify.
The Playbook to Successful Sales Leadership (Dave Rudnitsky)
Don’t Stagnate – The tactics contained in playbooks should change over time.
Pillars of Effective Leadership – Be passionate, confident, and paranoid but never arrogant.
Have an Entrepreneurial Mindset – Encourage AEs to run their book like their own franchise.
Pro Hiring Tips:
A. Check out the (online) brand of people before you hire them.
B. To hire great reps, ask your customers who their favorite vendor salespeople are.
Leverage Executive Firepower Strategically – Use you execs in the sales process, but don’t bring them in too early.
Focus on WHY NOT? – In other words, do a pre-mortem to identify red-flags. Why won’t they buy? Manager should ask this of reps and reps should ask this of prospects.
Lightning Talks: Seller Metrics, Sales Hiring Operational Excellence, and Revenue Acceleration Hacks on the Cheap (Pete Kazanjy, Noah Goldman, Evan Bartlett)
Hiring – Apply the same discipline to sales hiring as you do to pipeline management.
- Developing a hiring profile
- Applicant tracking system
- Hiring funnel metrics
- Operational rhythm of weekly hiring review meetings
- Have a playbook for sales hiring and train/certify managers on it.
Metrics – Be holistic and don’t just drive to performance of a single number.
- Higher fidelity inputs
- Avoid super-hero skills that do not scale
- Roll out change with pilot groups before scaling
- Automation/technology should only come after process definition and manual process success.
Leverage Technology – Must credibly prove to AE that new tools and/or process with either them close more deals or close deals faster.
Revenue acceleration hacks – Nothing is counted in forecast unless it has a next scheduled meeting
Diligently find the person of authority:
“Are you the person who can choose to sign the deal without asking anyone else?”
“Who besides you is involved in the final decision?”
“How are decisions to purchase services like this made?”
“I’m prepping the proposal, whose name should I put on the signature line?”
If CFO Is Involved – Ask how you can them your prospect prepare the internal pitch.
Problem-prospect fit – Should come before you do anything else
- Schedule the decision date working back from the go-live/customer value realization date.
- Recycle leads from closed lost deals, checking in with value every 90 days.
This Is How We Do It: The Salesforce Sales Playbook (Stephanie Glenn)
SFDC State of Sales 2016– 79% of customers want their rep to be a trusted advisor
Components of SFDC playbook:
- Go to market territory design.
- Lead to cash pipeline machine.
- Data obsession, starting with goals.
- Build your bench.
SFDC structures with:
- SMB for 1-200 employees with geo only
- Mid-market for 201-4500 employees with geo + name accounts only
- Strategic 4501+ with named accounts only.
- Additionally, SFDC has vertical for Financial Services, Healthcare, and Retail.
Plan Ahead – Start territory planning 4 to 5 months before the end of the fiscal year.
Create equal potential territories – Based on per-account upsell & cross-sell opportunity.
Engage leads immediately – Even if that means dropping low scoring leads into drip nurturing) and track activity from lead source to close.
Set monthly goals – Share daily performance covering AMP = activities, meetings, & pipeline.
Create a “clean your room” dashboard
- Pushed opportunities.
- Opportunities without recent activity.
- Big deals missing critical information.
Promote from within – At SFDC from inbound SDR to outbound BDR to AE to manager to executive.
Use hybrid hunter-farmer reps – Especially when accounts have significant up-sell and/or cross-sell potential that AEs must have significant influence over. Otherwise, separate into specialized hunters and farmers (aka. Customer success / account managers). At SFDC, they have hybrids and non-quota bearing customer success professionals focused on driving adoption.