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Last week I had the opportunity to moderate a panel discussion with John True, Managing Partner at Cultivation Capital and Adam Weber, Co-founder of Emplify, an employee engagement company, around strategies executives need to take now to position their companies for a bounce back. 

Here are the key takeaways from that discussion.

It's week 3 and the humans are starting to get on my nerves.

Week 1

Something's going on with the humans. I'm not sure what, but something is different.

I was really excited when Logan showed up, 3 weeks ago, out of the blue with all those boxes of clothes. It's been a while since he's lived here, but I remember that he thinks the floor of his room is where all things cotton should be placed - clean or dirty. My favorite are dirty socks, underwear, and shorts. I take them, chew on them, and then hide them under the bed, causing him to say, "Where the hell's my other sock." We've been playing this game for years. I think it funny he still asks the question. It's good to have him home!

Prospecting During Times of Uncertainty

These are new and unusual times. Overnight we went from a country with the Dow over 29,000, an unemployment rate under 3% and most companies seeing very healthy YoY growth rates. Now we are facing a very different reality. I believe those who are adaptable, innovative, resilient, and understand we’ll need to “SELL” our way out of this will have the best chance of coming out ahead in the next few weeks. That includes  the need to prospect and filling the top of the funnel to ensure there will be revenue (and commission) in the months to come.  

Here are some tips to help you be more comfortable reaching out to prospects during this unusual time. 

3 Clues that Your Sales Process is Broken

I worked for a CFO once who would regularly say, “That sounds like a broken process.” I got tired of hearing that, not because he was wrong, but because he was right.

I often get calls from Founders or Sales Leaders asking if I will come in and evaluate their sales reps. because they aren’t sure they’ve got the right players on the team. I gently say to them that I’d be happy to interview each rep., and provide feedback, but only after I’ve had a chance to evaluate their sales process. Most of the time I find the people aren’t broken, their sales process is. Without a formal sales process and KPI around it reps. will flounder and sales leaders will be frustrated and clean pipelines will be a fantasy.

stalled

The dictionary definition of productivity is:

  • The amount of time it takes to complete a task.

The KKJ definition:

  • The ability to identify and execute on tasks that will result in providing the highest value outcome.

So what’s the big deal? Why should sales leaders care about and measure the productivity of their sales reps? Because it matters. What I love about sales is it is the blending of art and math. I tell sales reps. I don’t care if they work harder or smarter- just hit quota! Productivity is the grease that makes the sales wheels move. Each prospecting call, email, discovery call, demo, and negotiation will all add up to success if done consistently and effectively.

stalledI was doing a pipeline audit for a client a few years ago when I ran across a sales stage called “Stalled”. What is this, I asked? “Oh- That’s where we put all the deals that we think will close someday but are currently stalled out. We don’t want to lose track of them.” WTF????

So as crazy as this sounds, they aren’t the only company I’ve run across with a similar thought process. So let’s set the record straight. Stalled is not a stage in the sales cycle!

base salarySo, sometimes I refer to myself as “The Badass Sales Leader”. I do this to set the right tone for hard conversations I need to have with Founders and Sales Leaders about behaviors I have no tolerance for, like Sales Reps. who take their base salary for granted. Let me be clear. I’m all for paying SDRs, AEs, and CSMs a base salary along with commission and bonus. What I’m not ok with is NOT getting ROI on that investment.

By now I'm sure your sales team is good at uncovering the pain points and challenges your prospects face. But are they digging to get the negative financial impact those pain points are having on the prospect’s organization? Are they able to calculate what the cost to the company is for not solving the issue? Are they able to calculate the positive revenue or negative cost impact that purchasing your product or service can have on their business and bottom line? Finding pain puts the prospect in the pipeline, understanding impact leads to more closed/won deals.

The most dangerous time in the Customer’s Journey is after the deal has been signed and before First Value Delivered (FVD) has been realized... Implementation!

It doesn’t matter if you have a self-serve ecomm product/service or sell an Enterprise software solution – Your customer MUST have a successful implementation experience or your company risks churning them in the future.

A successful implementation experience is really in the eye of the beholder – so there is no reason to guess.

Here are some questions to ask your customer during the handoff call with the sales rep. (see how I made the assumption that this is a best practice at your organization?).

T-minus 45ish days and counting. This year is coming to a close and even though you’re working hard to squeeze all the revenue you can out of 2019, it’s time to begin thinking about next year.

There are 2 ways I like to help my clients prepare for the next year:

We spend most of our life trying to add more to it. More money, more friends, more activities, more fun, and more time off. What if life, work, and sales weren’t a quantity game, but a quality game? What if you could enrich your life and work by saying “No” more often? We are over-scheduled, stressed out, and under the delusion that more is better. Saying “No” or “I wish I could” isn’t easy, but it’s better than saying yes and being resentful. #ownyourownshit

“Choose Discomfort over Resentment”

– Brene Brown

There are two areas that I introduce the addition by subtraction philosophy to my clients: People and Pipeline.

Identifying Your Ideal Customer

If you don’t choose who you want to do business with, then your customers will choose you! And these customers might be less than perfect. Understanding your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) will dictate everything from product features or service offerings to your marketing and prospecting strategy. Here’s what you need to know to make sure everyone in your company from Product to Marketing and Sales understands who you want to do business with.

If Player Coach was a Good Idea Then the NFL Would be Doing It

I regularly speak with founders that are looking to get out of the sales leadership role but can’t justify hiring someone who’s sole responsibility is to manage a group of SDRs (Sales Development Reps) or AEs (Account Executive). Instead, they’ve decided to add a quota carrying rep who will also play the role of sales leader. I cringe each time I hear this. Here’s why...

There has been so much written about the Millennials that I’m afraid we aren’t getting ready for Gen Z. They have hit the workforce and although probably not decision makers yet, they are individual contributors and their opinion matters. They don’t know a world without smartphones and technology. They are used to connecting and communicating in less personal ways; text, email, slack and chat.

Disrespectful Demos

Using the word disrespectful may seem harsh, but I need to get your attention. I’m tired of seeing Sales Reps., Sales Engineers, Solutions Consultants and Technical team members be disrespectful of the prospect’s time and intelligence while demoing their product.

According to CEB, “57% of the purchase decision is already complete before the customer even calls the supplier.” If we know this (and we do) then why aren’t we putting in the same amount of time and effort learning about our prospect and their needs as the prospect has put into learning about our industry, our company and our competitors?

article header women

 

Diversity and Inclusion is the HOT topic in tech right now. It’s no secret, tech is too white and too male. I believe the uncomfortable conversation will have to continue to come from women, minorities, and anyone who doesn’t currently have a seat at the table, just like the #metoo movement.

Gifts via Direct Mail

SDRs and AEs are working hard to personalize their message to prospects. Like the commercial says, “What better way to say I love you than with flowers.” Everyone loves to get something special in the mail.

Hello I am... Accountable

I’m on a quest to help companies create an accountability culture. I believe a lack of accountability is affecting many company's ability to grow revenue, keep customers, and retain high performing employees. My quest to understand why creating a culture of accountability is so difficult led me to a place I didn’t expect - the realization that accountability is very closely tied to vulnerability.

Video is working!

vidyard example

More and more of my clients are using Vidyard to send prospects and customers customized video messages as part of their outbound prospecting strategies.

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I went to Atlanta last week for SalesLoft’s Rainmaker Conference. It was a great three days of networking, learning, and inspiration. I wanted to share with you my favorite sessions from my time there.

3 Challenges Your Company is Facing Due to Lack of Discipline

As 2018 began to fade and 2019 was on the horizon, I realized that I was in need of a new "Word of the Year". I've never been a New Years Resolutioner, rather I enjoy using a word to help me stay focused. 2018's word was "Authentic". It had served me well, although I knew not everyone in my life had been a fan. As I thought about the challenges I had faced with my clients in 2018, I quickly realized that DISCIPLINE was going to be 2019's word.

3 Learnings from the

I had the privilege of moderating a panel of SaaS sales experts last night at the 1st SalesMentour STL event. So much great conversation around old school and new school sales and marketing techniques by John True, Kathy Gereau, Tom Hanrahan, and Mark Kosoglow.

I've got to admit, I don't focus very much on Social Selling when I speak to reps. about best practices. It's not that I don't think that it's a tool in the tool box that should be considered and used where appropriate, but I don't grab my pom poms when the topic comes up and shout "Three Cheers for Social Selling". I have been known to say, "No one sells anything over email! You still need to pick up the phone." Well, something happened yesterday that got my attention.

I watched the most unbelievable, come from behind, win I'd seen in college basketball in years last night. If you know or follow me you're already aware, I'm a huge @kuhoops basketball fan and NCAA bball fan. I watch about 200 hours of NCAA basketball a season. But, you didn't need to love the Jayhawks to appreciate what happened last night.

Would you get in the car to drive to a place you've never been without directions, GPS, or Waze? Of course not. So why do so many companies think they can get to the "next level" without metrics, goals, or KPI's?

I'm seeing Sales teams without revenue goals, Marketing teams without monthly lead, MQL, or SQL targets, and Customer Success teams without renewal or up-sell goals. It's baffling. How do your employees know when they leave work each day if they have had a successful or unsuccessful day? How does the company know if they are on track to reach their revenue target for the year?

I was working with a couple of reps. last week helping them prepare for a very important onsite demo with a large prospect. They had smartly scheduled a call with an IT influencer to make sure they had their presentation and demo all buttoned up.

The sales reps. were a bit concerned going into the call that the IT influencer might not be on their team and they were going in a bit guarded in their approach and wanted to keep their cards close to the vest. As the meeting progressed, the sales reps. became more bold in their questioning and to everyone's surprise, the prospect gave us insight and information we never expected to get. He shared not only the names and titles of everyone that would be in the meeting, but also who the three key stakeholders were and what was in it for them. He shared why the last implementation had failed and the concerns about deploying a new system. He even told us who our two competitors were, not the two we thought they were!

Step 5- The Formal Offer

You’ve spent the last couple of weeks narrowing the field from 100+ resumes to one final candidate. Now, it’s time to close the deal. You’ve come this far so we don’t want you fumbling the ball on the 2-yard line. Here are the steps I take to ensure I seal the deal.

Step 4- Assess and Educate Them

After doing the Behavioral-based interview, you should have a good idea what makes your candidate tick. Now is when I like to run them through some sort of assessment to see if they have the same competencies as other successful sales reps. who are doing the job today.

I'm not your regular March Madness fan. If you follow me on LinkedIn then you know I went to the University of Kansas and I'm a huge Jawhawk Men's basketball fan. If you don't follow me, then hopefully my "March Madness" profile picture was a tip off (basketball pun intended). I calculated that by the time March Madness starts I've watched no fewer than 200 hours of NCAA basketball. I never miss the Jayhawks play. Then there are the games I watch for scouting purposes. I estimate I see 70% of all Big 12 games. This year I was keeping a close eye on UNC, Duke, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisville, etc- you get the point. I watch a lot of NCAA basketball. So imagine my disappointment to be tied for 16th in my March Madness pool!

If you had the pleasure of watching the last 4 days of basketball with me, you probably heard the following from me at some point: "Is this happening?", "Yep- this is happening!", "Did that really just happen?", "Did Michigan State really lose to Middle Tennessee?", "What conf. is Middle Tennessee in?", "A&M is in overtime? I switched that game off with a minute left- it was over!" Ahhhhh, I love March Madness.