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PODCAST 23: Strategies to Improve Sales Productivity as You Scale
Doug Landis is a Growth Partner at Emergence Capital and on this episode, he chats about his top strategies to improve sales productivity. Tune in!
If you missed episode 22, check it out here: PODCAST 22: Being a Successful Account Executive — There’s More to it Than Hitting Quota
What You’ll Learn
- What messaging helps sales teams win and how to tell a story effectively
- The attitude and behaviors you need to drive success
- What strategies sales teams use to win deals
- Lessons from building Salesforce and Box
- Pricing and packaging strategies
- Aligning marketing and sales to drive air cover
- The definition of sales productivity
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Show Agenda and Timestamps
- Show Introduction [0:06]
- About Doug Landis: An Introduction [2:06]
- Doug’s Crash Course in Sales, Business Conversations, and Empathy [4:45]
- What Productivity Means In Light Of Sales Enablement [16:07]
- Using A Playbook To Manage Sales Processes [20:22]
- Understanding The Value of Your Time And Why It’s Okay To Say ‘No’ [25:49]
- Great Onboarding Should Extend Beyond The First Two Weeks [27:19]
- Recognizing Business Patterns And Knowing Your Customers [30:52]
- Why You Should Be Hiring A Head Of Marketing First [34:39]
Sales Hacker Podcast — Sponsored by Aircall and Outreach
Sam Jacobs: Hi, folks. Welcome to the Sales Hacker podcast. Super excited to feature Doug Landis on our show this week. This is your host Sam Jacobs.
This week on the podcast we’ve got two amazing sponsors. The first is one that we’ve been working with for a little while now, they’re called Aircall. Aircall is a phone system designed for the modern sales team.
They seamlessly integrate into your CRM. When it’s time to scale you can add new lines in minutes and use in-call coaching to reduce ramp time for your new reps.
Then our second sponsor is Outreach.io.
They are the leading sales engagement platform. Outreach triples the productivity of sales team and empowers them to drive predictable and measurable revenue growth by prioritizing the right activities and scaling customer engagements with intelligent automation.
Thanks for listening!
About Doug Landis: An Introduction
Sam Jacobs: Folks, it’s Sam Jacobs. Welcome to the Sales Hacker podcast. I’m incredibly excited for my guest today. He’s is a guy that a lot of folks in the startup world know.
Let me tell you about Doug Landis.
Doug’s currently a Growth Partner at Emergence Capital, one of the best VCs that I know of in the valley and investing in companies all over the country and the world.
Prior to joining Emergence, Doug spent 12 years driving sales productivity and efficiency inside of some of the world’s top technology companies, including Box, Salesforce, and Google. We’re so excited to have you Doug, so welcome to the show.
Doug Landis: Thank you. That’s quite the intro. Sounds like I’ve done a lot.
Doug’s Crash Course in Sales, Business Conversations, and Empathy
Sam Jacobs: Tell us about coming out of undergrad, what was your background, where are you from? Walk us through a little bit of the path that led you to Emergence over the last 20 or so years.
Doug Landis: Our whole family, at the core, were all sellers and I think I just started selling when I was selling newspapers as a little kid. It’s just kind of been in my blood.
As I got involved with my first job right out of college, I was actually working for Black & Decker selling power tools and accessories. I covered from Canada to Mexico and I would just drive by hardware stores, walk up, talk to the owner, and try to sell them power tools and accessories. It was insane.
Sam Jacobs: The has to be the best crash course in sales possible.
Doug Landis: Yeah, because what do you have to do? You have to be able to assess a business in a matter of moments. You got to be able to read people. Sales people are so quick to focus on prospecting skills and negotiation skills, kind of like their core selling skills.
But one of the things that I find is often missed is just how to have a business conversation. What truly helps you differentiate yourself and your company is your ability to be empathetic.
Empathy is demonstrated in your ability to articulate what you understand about the person that you’re meeting with, about their world, and everything that you know about them.
Actually, being empathetic is the core of being able to have a business conversation, if you think about it.
What Productivity Means In Light Of Sales Enablement
Sam Jacobs: Over the last 15-20 years there’s been this concept of enablement that’s emerged. Walk us through specifically what productivity means and how you think it relates to sales enablement.
Doug Landis: To me, sales enablement, it’s a marketing term. Marketing came up with it because when you’re enabling a salesperson.
In my mind, you are giving them assets of information and intelligence that you can use on a phone call. It’s a marketing function for salespeople. I love it. It’s necessary.
The idea is how do we then eliminate the things that get in a way of a salesperson’s ability to actually find the right people, have the right conversations, and close those deals faster.
In turn, earn the revenue. To me, ultimately, what we want to do is we want to incrementally increase the productivity, which you can define as dollars per head for every single rep.
Using A Playbook To Manage Sales Processes
Sam Jacobs: What are the common things that are in the way of salespeople being productive and effective? How can you help solve those problems?
Doug Landis: If you think about productivity, there’s one way to measure it, which is dollars per head per rep.
It’s also a matter of thinking about how much time are they actually able to spend in front of customers. On average, 25% of a rep’s time is actually spent engaged selling. So what are they doing with the other 75% of their time? They’re in one-on-ones, team meetings, trainings etc.
Or they’re meeting with their SE/CSM, strategizing about deals, prospecting, or researching. How can we remove the friction from all the things that a rep actually has to do so that they can spend more time selling?
Sam Jacobs: Do you have a favorite thing that you typically do in the playbook?
Doug Landis: Actually a playbook is one, so building out a playbook.
Also, sales process. The process in which how we manage opportunities. To me, that’s where playbook really fits.
It’s like defining what’s my goal for that stage, strategy for this stage, tactics or milestones that I have to hit in order to be able to move from one stage to the next. This is a combination of data insights, technology, and coaching.
Understanding The Value of Your Time And Why It’s Okay To Say ‘No’
Sam Jacobs: One of the biggest challenges that most managers tell me is reps spending a lot of time on deals that are not winnable.
Doug Landis: 100%. The single biggest competitor that we all face, I don’t care what industry you’re in?
Sam Jacobs: What is it?
Doug Landis: Status quo. If I’m finding myself in these common situations where I’m getting no decision then I need to do a better job up front qualifying.
Sam Jacobs: One of the biggest questions people say is, “Are you comfortable saying no?” People don’t understand that they can force the buyer to just say, “Hey, let me know where we are with this thing and it’s perfectly okay if we’re nowhere.”
Doug Landis: Some of the best reps I’ve seen over the course of my life are the ones that actually can say no. They understand the value of their company, and their solution, and what they bring to the table.
Great Onboarding Should Extend Beyond The First Two Weeks
Sam Jacobs: If you’re looking at a great onboarding program how long should it take? What does an excellent onboarding program look like?
Doug Landis: 90 days.
Most onboarding programs last the first week, but I believe there should be work ahead of time. There is your first week or two weeks at headquarters where you’re getting integrated into the culture and understanding who’s who in the zoo.
By the way, how you get things done internally within your organization has a huge impact on your ability to get things done with your customer. All of those things are important to set you up to actually get on the phone.
Your learning should continue in your first 90 days because you can’t teach somebody everything in the first two weeks, right? There are certain things you have to learn when you’re on the job.
Sam Jacobs: I think a lot of folks want onboarding to be a one-and-done kind of thing. Then we just start looking at our watch waiting for the first deal to close and it doesn’t always work like that.
Recognizing Business Patterns And Knowing Your Customers
Sam Jacobs: You were at Box and now you’re in this really exciting role at Emergence. Tell us about the new role and what your mandate is, and then we can go from there.
Doug Landis: At the end of the day, my job is to help them scale faster.
It’s about helping them to recognize the patterns that every Series A and Series B stage company faces. We’re in the business of pattern recognition of opportunities and once we invest in a company, it’s helping them to recognize the pattern.
Sam Jacobs: Where do you end up spending a lot of your time?
Doug Landis: I get super tactical. It starts with who’s our ideal customer profile and why. Who’s buying our product and why?
It’s understanding who our customers are, and who our buyers are, what do we know about them.
I spend a lot of time on messaging and positioning, mission, vision, exercises with the founders and the leadership team. Then we get into everything from sales process, sales playbook, sales operations. Hiring is a huge area focus.
Why You Should Be Hiring A Head Of Marketing First
Sam Jacobs: Are you somebody that wants to develop from within?
Doug Landis: Your founders are the ones that are helping you to understand who your customers are, why they buy, what they buy, what message really resonates with them. What most founders struggle with is hiring marketing and hiring them first.
Hire your head of marketing first, then hire your customer success managers, then hire sales.
Sam Jacobs: Interesting.
Doug Landis: Crazy, right? Early days, people don’t think they need marketing because they’ve got all these leads coming in. But guess what, you’ve got all these leads coming in because you’re a shiny penny. That’s going to dry up real quick.
Sam Jacobs: You have to create content for them to distribute.
Sam Jacobs: Hey everybody, this is Sam’s Corner! A great conversation with Doug Landis who is so eloquent and impressive, and is doing great work as a growth partner at Emergence.
A couple of key points, one of them is just about the importance of hiring marketing before sales.
The founder should be selling and you hire marketing before sales.
The big misconception is that folks understand, and equate, sales to money.
Sales is one part of money, but demand is the first part of money.
Without demand you can’t harness demand into revenue. So I always say a salesperson with lots of meetings and no process can help an organization grow and make money, they can close deals.
A sales person with no meetings at all, but a perfect process, and perfect solutions, and perfect tools can make no money at all.
That’s been Sam’s Corner. Thanks so much for listening and I’ll talk to you soon.
Don’t Miss Episode 24
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Thank you for listening. I will see you next time!
Also published on Medium.
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