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PODCAST 22: Being a Successful Account Executive — There’s More to it Than Hitting Quota

Sam Jacobs

August 28th, 2018

Successful Account Executive

Talking about his background, secrets to prospecting, and top tips to becoming a successful account executive is John Barrows on this week’s episode!

If you missed episode 21, check it out here: PODCAST 21: The Making of a Top-Producing Silicon Valley VP of Sales

What You’ll Learn

  • Prospecting with passion and enthusiasm
  • Handling objections effectively
  • Planning and managing your day to achieve maximum results
  • Cold calling techniques and tips to drive pipeline
  • Effective negotiating strategies
  • Selling with empathy and understanding the buyer journey

Subscribe to the Sales Hacker Podcast

Show Agenda and Timestamps

  1. Show Introduction [0:09]
  2. About John Barrows: An Introduction [2:47]
  3. There Wasn’t a Light-bulb Moment — I Just Put in the Work [9:10]
  4. If Content Is King, Context Is God [14:09]
  5. How to Think About Your Contact Strategy [18:04]
  6. Cold Calling Is Not Dead, But Do It Right [30:32]
  7. Structuring Your Day — Plan it Down to the Hour [38:49]
  8. Sam’s Corner [47:10]

Sales Hacker Podcast — Sponsored by Aircall and Outreach

Sam Jacobs: Hey, everybody this is the Sales Hacker Podcast, and I’m your host, Sam Jacobs.

We’ve got on our show today John Barrows, and everybody knows who John is.

His enthusiasm for the profession of sales is infectious and he’ll tell you all about how to generate engagement, get meetings, build pipeline, and approach your day in the right way.

We’re excited to have John on, but first, we’ve got our sponsors.

Aircall is our first sponsor. They are a phone system designed for the modern sales team. They seamlessly integrate into your CRM and eliminate data entry for your reps. With them, you have greater visibility into your team’s performance with advanced reporting.

Our second sponsor is Outreach.io, a leading sales engagement platform. Outreach triples the productivity of sales teams and empowers them to drive predictable and measurable revenue. So without further ado, let’s listen to John Barrows.

About John Barrows: An Introduction

Sam Jacobs: Hey everybody, and welcome to the Sales Hacker Podcast.

My guest today is John Barrows — the startup community already knows who he is!

He’s been one of the top sales trainers and sales thought leaders in the startup ecosystem and he’s the founder and owner of JBarrows Consulting.

I think one of his favorite and famous mantras is he teaches Salesforce how to sell and we’re just super excited to have him on the show! John, thanks for joining.

John Barrows: Thanks for having me, Sam.

There Wasn’t a Light-bulb Moment — I Just Put in the Work

Sam Jacobs: Was there a light bulb that triggered, when you went on your own and you knew you were going to be successful? Or were you always just so determined that, no matter what, you were going to make sure you won?

John Barrows: I think it’s more the latter. There’s no light bulb and no overnight successes, and usually, the ones that are don’t last.

Success is a different definition for everyone. I’m a big goal-setter. And so, I’m focused on continuous improvement. I live my life by the rule of 1%, which is you set the bar at a high, but attainable level. Then you just do 1% better every single day.

If you can genuinely look at yourself at the end of that day and say, “I was better today than I was yesterday,” then it’s going to be hard not to be successful.

If Content Is King, Context Is God

Sam Jacobs: I want to talk about a couple of themes while we’ve got time together. One of them is the evolution of sales and marketing in general. What should we be thinking of as we move into 2018 and 2019?

John Barrows: Everybody’s looking for the silver bullet, right? And it frustrates me because the skill of sales is getting replaced by technology.

People are focusing less and less on the ability to ask questions and relate to people. They’re focusing more of their attention on whatever cool new tool and technology they can use to send an email. I think we need to get back to the basics a little bit on sales.

First of all (I stole this from Gary Vaynerchuk), everybody says, “Content is king.” He says, “Fine, if content is king, then context is God.”

And that, to me, is marketing versus sales. Marketing is content; sales is context. If we, as sales professionals are not putting any context around our content, then we’re no different than marketing.

Blasting out template emails with some of these tools like Outreach or SalesLoft — they’re supposed to be sales efficiency tools, but sales reps are using them as sales automation tools.

How to Think About Your Contact Strategy

Sam Jacobs: If context is god, how can a rep listening to this improve their process tomorrow by embracing context?

John Barrows: Left to me, we’d all have a half an hour to do research on every account before we sent an email or made a phone call.

That’s just not realistic because even though we understand quality, we’re still forcing quantity. What I really recommend is everybody tier out their accounts.

This is where technology’s a big benefit because there’s a ton of tools out there that can give you really deep insights on what a company looks like.

Tier out your accounts into:

  • High-quality ones — Tier 1
  • Quantity approach — Tier 2
  • Practice or try things out — Tier 3

It’s about the contact strategy and the story that we tell these people. You can map that whole story out in a tailored way, but only to your top tier. I’m not going to do that for every single account. It’s just not realistic, but with your tier twos, that’s where we can be a little bit more targeted.

When I say targeted, let’s find some type of commonality that a group of people has in your database. Usually, you’ll read a blog post about some common themes or challenges, and then you can craft a message around that. Then send out 50 emails at a time with that specific persona.

That’s how we can get the volume up there, but that allows me to put the context around it because it’s a persona. Therefore, I can share relevant information to that persona.

Cold Calling Is Not Dead, But Do It Right

Sam Jacobs: I’m on your blog right now. It says, “Cold calling is not dead.” What’s the role of the telephone in the modern sales world?

John Barrows: It’s a piece of the puzzle and it’s no longer any one form of communication. There’s email, phone, text, social, all that stuff.

Different people like communicating in different ways, right?

Since you don’t know what type of communicator you’re dealing with, you got to mix it up. The reason I make phone calls is that every once in a while, I get through. I think voice is something you need to practice and get really good at.

Also, I leave voicemails, not because I expect callbacks, but because when I leave voicemails, tied with my contact strategy, my email responses go up.

Sam Jacobs: There was a specific voicemail that you leave. Tell the audience what it is?

John Barrows: It’s probably the hardest thing we train. It doesn’t start with a “Hey, this is John Barrows from JBarrows Consulting.” 90% of the time they’re going to delete it right after that.

So what we start off is the reason for the call.

“Hey Sam, I was on your website and I notice you’re doing some really cool stuff in these areas, and I want to talk to you about how our clients are using our solution to address those challenges. Could you call me back at 617-529-7271? Oh, by the way, this is John Barrows with JBarrows Consulting, 617-529-7271.”

You start with the reason for the call, then you back it up with your name. There’s a pattern interrupt factor there because every single voicemail sounds exactly the same. Then you come in and it’s different.

Second, it literally forces them to listen to the value proposition because everybody wants to know who it is before they hang up that phone. The third benefit is, I always joke, if you screw up halfway through, you can hang up and they have no idea who you are.

I really recommend that structure; pick your intro, what’s your reason, what’s your call to action, and then your contact information.

Structuring Your Day — Plan it Down to the Hour

Sam Jacobs: How do you think about structuring your day so that you can get all of the things you want done, done?

John Barrows: My biggest recommendation for everybody is get maniacal about goal setting — smart, specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Set goals every day. Everybody likes crossing stuff off a list, so make yourself feel good.

I recommend everybody do things in hour chunks. Do an hour’s worth of this activity, an hour’s worth of that activity.

As an example, do all your research for your accounts at the same time because you can get very efficient with your research. Make all your calls at the same time, send all your emails, those type of things. If you do things in hour chunks and give yourself breaks in between, you’ll be way more efficient than just going throughout your day.

Bonus read: PODCAST 13: Using the Science of Perfect Timing to Improve Sales Outcomes

Sam’s Corner

Sam Jacobs: Hi folks, it’s Sam’s Corner. Thank you for listening. Another great conversation, this time with our good friend, John Barrows. There are always good tips and tactics within the course of a given John Barrows training session and he referenced a few of them on our podcast.

We’ve got to think multimedia when we’re doing a cadence and it has to include email, voicemail, a LinkedIn message etc. Use the phone; it works in conjunction with everything else.

When you’re leaving a voicemail, don’t just say your name. Say, “The reason for my call is…” and have your name and your phone number, where your name is sandwiched between the phone number twice.

Don’t just drop everything into a cadence or an automated sequence. Make sure that you’re personalizing it and that you’re doing thoughtful constructive outreach and that’s what will get you a response.

This has been Sam’s Corner, thank you so much for listening. I’ll talk to you next time.

Don’t Miss Episode 23

To check out the show notes, see upcoming guests, and play more episodes from our incredible lineup of sales leaders, visit www.saleshacker.com/podcast-subscribe

You can also find the Sales Hacking podcast on iTunes or Stitcher. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with your peers on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Once again, a huge shout out to our sponsors, Outreach and Aircall. If you want to get in touch with me, find my social handles in my bio below.

Thank you for listening. I will see you next time!


Also published on Medium.

This is a sponsored guest post from a Sales Hacker partner.

About the author

Sam Jacobs

Sam Jacobs is the Founder of Aqueduct Revenue Advisors and the New York Revenue Collective and regarded as one of the top start-up CROs in the tech community. He has has over 15 years of experience scaling companies from post-revenue to ~$300M, has helped raise over $400M in institutional capital, and has helped companies of all sizes achieve an average annualized revenue growth rate of 48% over the last 15 years.

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