I wrote this article so that sales reps can have a glimpse into the mind of a sales leader. Not all sales leaders think the way I do and while I know it's important to keep an eye on emerging technology, I also believe in improving ME.
Prior to 2014, I spent 14 years as an individual contributor. As my career progressed and I learned more about the art and science of sales, every attempt I made to earn a prospects time became more about the process of earning time through value. With every phone call or email I sent, I was reminded that no prospect ever cared about me, my product or how much XYZ company loved using our services. In actuality, my prospects really only cared about themselves, their teams, their jobs, their performances and their career paths. It wasn't until I stepped into a leadership role and the tables were turned that soon I became the hunted. I had mixed emotions about it at first, feeling privileged at times and frustrated during others. The terrible emails from sales reps were pouring in, the lousy voice mails were jamming my inbox and the random out of nowhere LinkedIn requests were becoming the norm. However, for every 9 bad emails sent to me I would receive a really good one. For every 9 lousy phone calls I received there was that one sales rep who was really prepared. As sales leaders we owe it to ourselves, the companies we serve and the people we lead to start accepting more sales meetings from vendors. I do so for for a plethora of reasons.
Selfishly, folks, it's all about me sometimes. I am always learning and whether it be through reading, writing, speaking or accepting sales calls, my knowledge seeking persona will remain in tact. In fact, any sales leader who is not in constant student mode, should rethink their priority stack. Knowledge is first absorbed then passed on. When I attend a web demo, I use that opportunity to learn about the advancements in sales technology, pricing models for such products and services or maybe the vendor's GTM strategy. The tech stack for sales teams is growing on a daily basis with several pockets of market saturation beginning to form (i.e. sales automation) while other markets are emerging and early adopters are taking toe dips into new technology. This is a great time to learn!
Fulfilling My Entrepreneurial Cravings
Again, me being selfish here. Ever since I was a little kid I've had the entrepreneurial itch. I used to buy and sell G.I. Joe action figures to my friends, sell candy bars at school (which may have been illegal), buy and sell Nintendo games and knock on every neighbors door during snow storms so I can charge them $15 to shovel out their driveways. Later in my adult life I started a residential cleaning business with $200 and grew it to $8k in monthly recurring revenue. It's my belief that the best sales leaders are wired to be entrepreneurs and that DNA will transcend into their day-to-day cadence for growth, leadership and scaling their teams. Entrepreneurs are constantly seeking information and are willing to conduct mini-experiments in search of the next best process. Entrepreneurs will pivot when warranted as will sales leaders. I accept meetings from your company's sales reps so I can fulfill my entrepreneurial cravings and to see what other entrepreneurs are building and selling.
Stack Rank My AE's vs. Those Of Other B2B SaaS Companies
Send your best SDR's and AE's in my direction. Every email they send me I pick apart. The bad one's I send to my SDR team with a note reminding them to do the exact opposite. Left me a voice mail? You better believe I am using it during our next training session, so make it good! By reading prospecting emails and listening to voicemails, I know right away if I am training my SDR's and AE's at a level higher than other sales leaders. I usually accept 30% of the meeting requests I get and it's typically with newer or emerging technologies that address real problems faced by sales leaders. Once on these calls, I am listening carefully and watching closely as your SDR or AE conducts discovery, asked me questions and establishes trust.
Improve My Own Processes
News flash! I don't have the perfect sales process. It's pretty good but it's not perfect. Maybe it will never be. As I've grown older and progressed in my career I have become more and more comfortable with my vulnerabilities. I've become so comfortable in fact, that I actively share my challenges, poor decisions, good decisions and current situations with my peers from other B2B SaaS organizations. As a leader, if you want to get better you must collaborate and communicate with professionals in a similar role as yours. What I've learned is that many of us (by us I am referring to VP's of Sales), are either going through similar challenges or have gone through similar challenges prior. The power of speaking to someone who has walked the road you are about to travel is pretty powerful stuff and incredibly helpful. All of these sales leaders have put a process in place to scale and effectively and repeatedly sell their products over and over again. The carrier of these processes are their sales reps. Their sales reps give me a glimpse into a sales process I may not be using myself. Maybe it's a process that I can blend with my own?
Ryan Lallier is a proven sales leader and builder of high velocity sales machines.