The Modern Selling Podcast
About this podcast
The Modern Selling podcast, hosted by Mario Martinez, Jr., is the go-to podcast for sales leaders, sales professionals, business owners, sales enablement leaders, and anyone responsible for generating revenue. Mario's guests are practitioners in the trenches, experts in their profession and influencers who are leveraging modern selling techniques to inspire you to create more sales conversations with your target buyer!
About this podcast
The Modern Selling podcast, hosted by Mario Martinez, Jr., is the go-to podcast for sales leaders, sales professionals, business owners, sales enablement leaders, and anyone responsible for generating revenue. Mario's guests are practitioners in the trenches, experts in their profession and influencers who are leveraging modern selling techniques to inspire you to create more sales conversations with your target buyer!
The Modern Selling Podcast
Why Modern Sellers Should Become Expert Problem-Finders with Greg Alexander, #179
The sales profession is evolving at a fast pace because of the changes in consumer behavior. B2B sales are becoming more and more like B2C sales in many aspects. That is why modern sellers need to level up their sales skills and adapt to the modern buyer. One of those skills is the ability to find latent problems that prospects are unaware of. How? Well, you have to listen to this episode of The Modern Selling Podcast to learn what my guest, Greg Alexander, has to say. Greg is the Chief Investment Officer for Capital 54, where he decides which entrepreneurs to bet on, and which firms to invest in. He helps them scale and exit their firms by sharing how he scaled and exited his. Listen to Greg tell the amazing story of how he started SBI, a sales consulting firm, from scratch and how he sold it for 165 million without recurring revenue. Greg is also the author of The Boutique: How To Start, Scale, And Sell A Professional Services Firm. Listen now to hear his predictions about the future of sales and how your team can provide a better experience for your customers. The Future of Sales I’ve always said that sales is 51% science and 49% art. So, I was surprised when Greg said he disagreed with me. “Right now, it's 90% science, 10% art,” he says. “In five years from now, it'll be 100% science and no art.” Greg predicts that with the advent of artificial intelligence, B2B sales will become like e-commerce and inside sales teams will be replaced by robots. “If your product is easy to understand, easy to buy, people are going to buy it through a shopping cart. And when that happens, it's going to be all sites. It's going to be things like literally changing the wording on a landing page to get somebody to a shopping cart, and analyzing abandonment rates of shopping carts to improve sales conversions. Now, that's going to push the overwhelming majority of the B2B salesforce towards the science.” For years, salespeople have been experts at solving problems for their customers, like a lack of sales pipeline or prospecting problems. But machines that can process tons of data per second are becoming better than humans at solving problems. What humans can do that machines can’t, though, is finding problems. That’s where the art of selling will remain. “Machines can't find the problem. They can just analyze it. The human being, which has human judgment, has the ability to locate the problem. And that, in my opinion, will be the distinguishing characteristics of great salespeople going forward.” A fantastic seller will help a client discover a latent need or become aware of a problem they didn’t know they had. “The second part of the equation is not only finding the problem, but it's finding the solution and thinking as a whole product, not a piece of the product. I think that's the next frontier.” Greg advises sellers to think about who they're reaching out to, and make sure that their problem plus the solution is targeted at the right person and not the tactical budget holder. Listen to the whole episode to discover why, according to Greg, the culprits of the failure in sales quota achievement and lost revenue are not sales leaders but CEOs. It’s certainly a very interesting point of view!
What Sales Leaders Can Do Today to Create More Sales Conversations with Mario Martinez Jr., #178
This episode of The Modern Selling Podcast is a little bit different. Instead of me interviewing a guest, I want to share an interview I did with Rob Jeppsen on the Sales Leadership Podcast, where we talked about creating more sales conversations and how to prospect. Our own research at Vengreso has shown that the hardest part of the sales cycle, according to both sales leaders and sellers, is getting the first conversation. The longest part of the sales cycle is that from “hello” to close and, in fact, most of the 200 sales training companies out there focus on teaching all the skills needed in that part of the cycle. But very few focus on the pre-hello. And that's where we spend a lot of our time at Vengreso, teaching prospecting skills that will actually build the sales pipeline. Because the fact is that without the first conversation, nothing else happens. Creating Sales Conversations 1. Mindset Sales leaders who want a strong pipeline must begin by changing their mindset. Those of us 45 years of age and older are used to using mostly email and phone calls for prospecting. But data shows that although the number of emails sent in 2020 increased exponentially, email engagement dropped, as well. Phone calls have gone down also. So, we have to ask ourselves, what are we going to do differently and how are we going to do it? We must apply the omnichannel approach to prospecting. That means including all these channels in your sales cadence: Phone Email Text messages Video Social media Direct mail and gift marketing Digital referrals You have to engage the buyer in the way the buyer wants to be engaged. Sales leaders have to think differently about every one of these channels and how their sellers are using them throughout every step of the Cadence process. Otherwise, they will be obsolete in less than six months from now. Listen to the podcast to learn how to coach your salespeople to succeed in this new digital environment and what you must do as a sales leader to level up your game. It’s not enough to give your sellers access to new channels like LinkedIn and video if you don’t train them on how to leverage them correctly. The question for you as a sales leader is, do you yourself know how to use them? If you have the word “sales” in your title, like sales manager, director of sales, VP of sales, or Chief Sales Officer, that means you're in sales. So produce a lead, prospect, engage, get out there on the front lines. Don't tell your sellers, “Hey. go take the hill,” but say, “Let's take the hill. And I'll do it with you because we're all in this together.” 2. Execution Once you have the mindset, you must execute. And the first thing you must do is build a program that will change the behavior of your team. However, you cannot change behavior nor accomplish a long-term impact in your sales organization with a 2-hour webinar. You must implement a training program that enhances your team’s digital selling skills over time. There are seven aspects of a successful virtual sales program that you must take into account, including chunking content, spacing instruction over time, using repetition, testing knowledge, and more. Listen to the whole episode to discover how to implement an omnichannel prospecting cadence and how to discover what works for every customer through trial and error.
How to Become a Better Sales Manager with Charles Forsgard, #177
Are you coaching your sales team or are you just making sure they hit quota? According to my guest in this episode of The Modern Selling Podcast, sales leaders today have moved from providing sales coaching to reporting on numbers. And that is not helping sellers grow. Listen to this interview with Charles Forsgard, the Vice President of Global Sales for Honeywell’s Advanced Sensors Technology business. In this role, he leads 300 salespeople, applications engineers, and managers delivering $850M in revenue. Prior to working at Honeywell, Charles spent three years at GE leading the Controls and Software sales team and twenty-six years at Schneider Electric in a variety of sales, marketing, and business management roles. Charles is an avid customer advocate and is passionate about the evolution of the selling profession. He is a frequent speaker at events and on podcasts about selling and sales management. Charles was named as one of The Modern Sale Magazine’s Top 100 Global Sales Leaders in 2020 and is the author of the book, Stop Kidding Yourself: The way that you are managing your salespeople is not helping them. Don’t miss this episode to learn how to become a better sales manager. Reporting vs Coaching Charles says he wrote his book after realizing that he, as well as his friends and fellow sales managers, were spending too much time reporting up instead of enabling their salespeople. “We've gone from the manager’s role as coach to the manager's role as a reporter,” Charles says. “The salesperson’s view of their boss is, ‘Well I just got to make sure he gets the right numbers and he writes reports and he'll go away and stop bothering me.’ You know, I used to be just so excited when I got time with my boss, because that time was always incredibly valuable coaching time.” Instead of just yelling at sellers for not hitting their numbers, sales leaders should sit with them and walk backward to figure out why they are not reaching their quota and helping them overcome any obstacles. Unfortunately, many sales managers are often forced to focus on the wrong things. Charles says that one of those things is revenue. “There's a whole series of things that come before revenue,” he says, “so as a sales manager, if you're worried about revenue, depending on what your sales cycle is, you're way too late, because you are so far beyond the actions that the salesperson is taking.” Sales managers should focus instead on sales activities that move deals forward. For instance, if there is not enough sales pipeline, perhaps the sellers are not doing enough prospecting. No matter the length of your sales cycle, you should be focusing on things like account plans, having enough customer meetings, deals created, pipeline and deal wins. “If I want to get into what makes an effective sales organization, look at the ratio of how much time people are being proactive versus how much time they are being reactive. Salespeople always have to react to what the customer is saying, but the more proactive you are, you're in control of what's going on, not the environment, or your competition, or the customer. Make it about your planning, not about telling me what happened after the fact.” Another mistake sales managers make is to use the CRM as a reporting tool and not a planning tool. Instead of encouraging their team to just log information into the CRM, they should use the CRM as a planning tool that will enable proactive selling by the sellers. Listen to the entire episode to learn how they use the CRM for account planning at Honeywell and how you can do the same. Selling: Art and Science I like to say that selling is 49% art and 51% science. While the science has to do with the metrics and the numbers, the art is more about what sellers do every day. So how do you combine those two as a sales leader? “If you focus too much on the science, too much on the numbers,” Charles says, “coaching is going to feel like inspection. And I don't know anybody that likes that weekly colonoscopy from their boss, right? That's not what the intention is. But if you're doing structured coaching right, they will know what you are going to be talking about because it’s consistent from week to week, and they feel like what they're going to get in there is coaching, not going to get beat up because of something they're doing wrong. They're going to get good Socratic coaching, really drawing the answer out of them by the questions. That's really where the art of the sales leader’s role is.” To help your salespeople, you can ask really good questions after a sales call or visit: What worked well? What didn't work so well? Did we accomplish the goal that you wanted? Did you have multiple options? Will there be another way we could have done it? And why do you think that might be a good way? Now with remote selling, sellers have more meetings than ever before. But they can’t be just back-to-back meetings -- there needs to be time for debriefing and feedback. Your sellers need validation, affirmation or simply they need to talk about the deals and get feedback, bounce ideas. Make time for coaching your sellers. Thanks to tools like Gong, sales leaders can listen or read a transcript of sales calls and provide feedback to their sellers. Listen to our conversation to learn the importance of planning visits and sales calls in a virtual environment, and much more, so you can become a better sales manager.
The New Challenges of Buying and Selling with Andee Harris, #176
For those of us in the trenches, it is obvious that buying and selling has changed significantly due to Covid and the shift to virtual selling. But what does the research say about these changes and what can we do to overcome the new challenges? To answer this question, I have an amazing guest in this episode of The Modern Selling Podcast, Andee Harris. Andee is the CEO of Challenger, a global leader in training, technology, and consulting, and the creators of the Challenger sales methodology. She has more than two decades of experience in growing and scaling service and technology businesses and previously led multiple companies, both as CEO and Senior Vice President. Don’t miss our conversation to learn how you and your team can succeed in the new sales landscape. What is different about buying and selling today? Andee says it's a buyer’s market right now. That means that companies have had to reprioritize their spending across categories. “Every purchase,” she says, “every function is now under a lot of scrutiny because a lot of companies are in survival mode.” According to Challenger’s research, a third of companies have implemented a purchasing freeze. Additionally, procurement is now playing a bigger role in approving purchases than before. Andee says their data shows that 54% of companies require prior approval before even being able to submit requests for software and services, even at the 5k level. “We see in our research that 38% of companies are requiring an RFP, so it’s a formal submission process. There's just a lot more hoops and a lot more stages of the sales process that you have to get through; more stakeholders that lead to a really complex sales process. You need to be able to address the skills of your sellers, what technologies you're using, what advice, and what consulting you're using to get through this market.” In the digital sales era, buyers do their own research and already have tons of information when they start speaking to a seller. So sales leaders must teach their teams to adapt to this new environment, coaching sellers to adjust to the buyer and provide them a customized sales experience. Listen to the whole episode to discover why remote selling is not an excuse to spend less time building relationships with customers and what your sellers can do to succeed in a buyer’s market. Gaining Market Access In the past year, the number of emails has increased to 40.6 billion, while the response rate has gone down to 1%. What can sellers do to stand out? Andee says sellers should send emails that are very unique and different. “We're all getting bombarded with messages and, honestly, they all look the same to me. I'm not going to respond unless it's someone I actually know or it's an introduction from somebody I know, but also really is someone insightful that teaches me something new about my business, something revolutionary that I haven't thought about.” Sellers should become more creative when engaging with prospects and follow a sequence of prospecting messages or sales cadence without giving up prematurely. “At Challenger, we teach about mobilizers. Being on remote meetings you can't get all the stakeholders together in one room. So really having that mobilizer, that person that's going to drive your business case within the organization, is even more critical.” Closing Deals Another problem in today’s buying and selling environment is that many opportunities are not closing. Despite sellers having multiple meetings and calls with buyers, there is no decision because of lack of funding or other reasons. What can sellers do to protect against an opportunity ending in a no-decision? Andee mentions the need to develop the Challenger skills, which are different from just being passionate or being a hard worker and doing all your chores as a seller. “You really want to focus on those skills like brainpower and creativity. If you're relying on just gifts and graces, it's not going to move the needle. The strategy is really to help people do well the hard things that differentiate them.” Listen to the full episode for some examples of creative strategies we use at Vengreso (hint: use video for sales). Plus, Andee reveals the most important skills needed to facilitate a high level of growth (hint: it has to do with understanding the big picture and negotiating).
How to Use Behavioral Psychology to Sell More Effectively with Perry Carpenter, #175
What can sales leaders learn from cybersecurity awareness? A lot! My guest in this episode of the Modern Selling Podcast is Perry Carpenter, author of Transformational Security Awareness: What Neuroscientists, Storytellers, and Marketers Can Teach Us About Driving Secure Behaviors, and he brings some great insights for sales leaders and marketers. He currently serves as Chief Evangelist and Strategy Officer for KnowBe4, the world's most popular security awareness and simulated phishing platform. Previously, Perry led security awareness, security culture management, and anti-phishing behavior management research at Gartner Research, in addition to covering areas of IAM strategy, CISO Program Management mentoring, and Technology Service Provider success strategies. With a long career as a security professional and researcher, Perry has broad experience in North America and Europe, providing security consulting and advisory services for many of the best-known global brands. Listen to our conversation to learn three things your sellers should do to prospect more effectively. 1. Sellers Must Become Storytellers Any time your sellers are prospecting, they have to: Tell a story about a gap or need within the prospect’s life, reminding them of something that is not optimal in their lives Tell the story about what the prospect’s life looks like without the solution you offer and then paint a picture of the hope, the joy, the risk reduction or whatever happens anytime the seller comes in and fills that gap. “In the security space,” Perry says, “it's all around, so if you do this or if you don't do this you're putting organization at risk, you're putting your family at risk. You've got identity theft or something like that that may happen. And, therefore, you need to either plug this product in, or change this behavior, or adopt this mindset or so on.” Perry says that understanding the customer journey is very important for sales leaders looking to grow their sales pipeline. “On the security side,” Perry says, I want to understand what is the equivalent of that for somebody just walking through their daily life. What is the journey map of a person as they move in and out of their daily life and make decisions that are related to security. And then what I want to find out is where are the intersection points that I can come in and meet that person so I do end up standing in their path, telling a story and then moving them where I want them to be.” 2. Sellers Must Use the Right Terminology Perry and I also talked about understanding the optimal terminology to use when speaking to clients and prospects. “When it comes to describing security things, or products, I've learned that I need to understand the terminology that my prospect is already using and I need to reinforce that. I might need to change the frame later on, but I need to start with the frame that they are already in, and that gets into a whole psychological principle: framing and reframing.” Listen to the whole episode to find out how Perry learned about the importance of terminology when he was hypnotizing people in the streets of Las Vegas (hint: he used what is known as a neuro handle!). 3. Sellers Must Understand the Basic Principles of Human Nature Perry says that everything comes back to the behavior and the psychology of the prospect. The prevalent spray and pray approach of most sales messaging lacks segmentation, personalization, and it’s overall a lazy sales methodology. If you want real sales engagement, your sellers must show they’ve done their research about what makes the person and company unique. Perry cites the research by Stanford researcher BJ Fogg, who created the Fogg Behavior Model, which is the basis of most apps and social media platforms. Fogg says that humans are lazy, social, and they're creatures of habit. And salespeople should take into account those characteristics. “So on the laziness front,” Perry says. “As a sales person, if you can make my life easier somehow, if you can reduce my research, and you can give me trusted sources for things, if you can help with the scheduling of an appointment, if you can give me some kind of sample so that I have less to invest in, then you get my attention.” Sellers must also include social proof in their messaging and position their product as the norm (or better than the norm), as something they must have. Lastly, remember that humans are creatures of habit. “People like to do things the way that they've always been doing them. And so, if we're expecting to disrupt their lives with something that is different than what they've done in the past,we have to help them so they can codify a new behavior and a new habit or we're always going to be coming up against a wall.” If we try to work against human nature, we will fail. Listen to the whole episode to learn about how to grab a prospect's attention in a crowded environment, and some sales email best practices, including what Perry calls Trojan horses for the mind. Finally, Perry recommends two books, Pre-suasion by Robert Cialdini and Contagious by Jonah Berger, for strategies and tactics to get executive buy-in.
How to Choose and Implement a Sales Methodology with Paul Curto, #174
With so many sales methodologies available, sales leaders ask themselves how they can pick one and how they can actually implement it and drive adoption among their sales team. My guest in this episode of The Modern Selling Podcast is a sales strategy and methodology enthusiast who has great insights about this topic. Paul Curto is the Head of Global Sales Methodologies at Juniper Networks. He is focused on accelerating the performance of Juniper Networks’ sellers, both direct and indirect. Paul develops and delivers a holistic framework for consistently improving the experience and capabilities of all of Juniper’s customer-facing roles from onboarding through ongoing development and seller excellence and skills. Paul has a special passion for sales methodologies as applied in a consistent way to improving sales outcomes, as well as maximizing employee productivity, health, and impact. Listen to this episode to learn from Paul about implementing a winning sales methodology in your organization. Aren’t All Methodologies Similar? The short answer is that they all have similarities but also differences. Paul was trained in the Miller Heiman methodology, but when he came to Juniper he had to learn the MEDDICC methodology. What he found is that they had many similarities. “One example of the alignment I found,” Paul says, “was that the economic buyer in both methodologies has exactly the same definition: the ultimate authority to buy in a particular sale.” Another example is the champion, which is the first C in MEDDICC, and who is basically the same as the coach in Miller Heiman, a person who you have credibility with and who has a lot of influence and control. They can even be the decision-maker that the economic buyer puts in charge of making the decision or the recommendation. Listen to the whole episode for Paul’s insights about the alignment between these two sales methodologies. What about the differences? “One thing I found that Miller Heiman does very well that I don't see really called out in MEDDICC is the use of the red flags,” Paul says. “Most sales professionals like feeling good about the deal. They prefer to ignore these red flags or just brush them under the carpet. But that is not conducive to strong strategies. We're trying to bring out the real vulnerabilities that we have that could actually kill us in this deal. Let's highlight those and let's come up with very strong actions that help us counter those. But we've got to be open, honest and transparent with ourselves with regard to our true position with the customer.” The minimization or elimination of a red flag by means of strong smart actions is how you want to play the game of sales to win. Choosing the Right Sales Methodology As a sales leader, you might be thinking about picking a sales methodology for your organization to really focus on. How do you decide which one is the right methodology? Paul thinks you can make almost any methodology work. “I think familiarity and leadership support is one of the first keys to selecting the right methodology. And once it's selected, you've got to be able to stick with it and reinforce it at every level.” When you're selecting a methodology, think about the accountability you need to that process. It’s very important to have a common language and a repeatable sales process in a sales system that you can rely on to improve your odds of winning deals. “Once it becomes pervasive, once it becomes the common language throughout the sales organization, it really helps us get together and strategize together on how to win important deals and it also becomes the glue between different types of seller personas across the organization.” Listen to learn how they applied a common language across Juniper Networks for the various seller personas who engage at different stages of the sales cycle. Implementing the Methodology What does a successful sales methodology implementation look like? Paul says it's always a work in progress. “In my experience, it's like you're aiming for perfection, but you'll never really get there.” A successful implementation occurs when you have widespread adoption, not because you're forcing everyone to be compliant, but because the leadership team believes it leads to better results. This means that frontline and top leadership are managing the right sales activities that are going to drive the sales outcomes and objectives. “I think we need to start with the managers,” Paul says. “The managers need to feel confident and capable with any new methodology that you're trying to roll out. They have to see the value in doing it because they don't want to feel like it's a complete waste of their time or it's just paperwork to fill out, like a form.” Sales managers also need to be better coaches, teaching the methodology to their reps. “Practice makes perfect. So for better performance, you've got to be practicing all the time. If the sales takes training but their manager is not going to use it for forecasting, for deal inspection, for coaching, then the training just becomes an event and it's unlikely to be used ever again.” Managers must make sales coaching part of their DNA as an organization, analyzing deals with data, and walking reps through what they have done well and what they are missing. For example, one tactic we have implemented at Vengreso to make sure reps implement their training is adding a few required fields to the CRM, as described in our sales tools ROI blog post. Listen to our conversation to learn how Juniper has implemented their sales methodology so it becomes part of their DNA (hint: it involves their playbooks and a cultural and mindset shift). Finally, Paul mentions that although they use MEDDICC at Juniper, they are also looking at other methodologies for prospecting, negotiation, virtual selling, and social selling.
Sales Enablement in a Digital Sales World with Kyle Healy, #173
How do you get a traditional sales team to embrace modern selling techniques and engage with prospects digitally? That is the topic of conversation in this episode of the Modern Selling Podcast with my guest Kyle Healy. Kyle is the SVP of Sales Enablement and Strategy for NFP. A dynamic leader with nearly 15 years of experience in the insurance consulting and sales space, Kyle is a core member of the leadership team at NFP tasked with driving transformation inside the functions connected to the organization’s revenue growth. Kyle is a regular public speaker on progressive sales strategies for complex B2B buyers, as well as total rewards and human capital trends as a result of his background in benefits consulting. Listen to this episode to discover how NFP has transformed its traditional sales force into a modern sales organization. Focusing on Outcomes We started our conversation by talking about some commonly held beliefs about selling that he disagrees with. One of those beliefs is that as a seller you need to talk about yourself at some point early on. “We have a lot of our sellers sort of really vehemently believe that if they don't get something about them or us or their product early, it's a waste, that we need to convey value right up front,” Kyle says. “I don't believe I need to talk about me or us until maybe meeting two or meeting three. We've got a pretty long sales cycle.” His advice is to avoid the product dump or pitch, to avoid talking about yourself as the largest, greatest, baddest in the world. You can talk, though, about your journey, your culture, and the process you have gone through helping others. “Do not go in presuming you know exactly what their big problem is. Try to understand them and what's kind of keeping them awake at night. Let them lead based on what's important and unique to them.” The magic word is outcomes. Especially that first conversation that a seller has with the customer. What is the outcome that they are desiring and does that align with what we do? When the desired outcomes match with what you deliver, you've got an opportunity. But what about when they don't have a really clear sense of what the outcome they want is? Kyle thinks sellers have a great opportunity there. “The discovery meeting is really about learning about them and helping them discover things about themselves for their business that they weren't even really thinking about yet. That's the fun stuff.” The New Digital Selling Environment Kyle says that the insurance industry went through a lot of prospecting challenges because of COVID. “It’s an old school industry and the average age of the typical insurance sales person is 58.” Once they realized they couldn’t visit people in person, they went to emails, but that wasn’t enough. They need an omnichannel approach to build their sales pipeline. “We are trying to get our sellers more comfortable with creating content through social, using video, going back to the phones. Something that we're continuing to hammer and coach and one of our big focuses is, okay, if you're only sending emails you're in trouble.” The modern buyer has changed and sellers must use every available channel to reach their prospects in the channels they prefer. “I don't love high-volume. I don't love Mass automation. There's a time and place for some of that stuff to create some efficiencies to just make business run better. But especially in the early sales motion, the early funnel when I'm trying to really establish that relationship, I think it's got to be hyper-informed, hyper-personalized, super-specific to the person you're reaching out to.” This is at the heart of our own PVC Sales Methodology, which calls for personalization in your sales messaging. Listen as Kyle explains their strategy to customize benefits to each buyer and the success they have experienced with hyper-personalization. Discover how NFP has modernized their sales process and the tension between automation and personalization, and how to use sales cadence tools effectively (hint: it’s not about speed but about quality control). Finally, Kyle has some great advice for sales enablement leaders and sales leaders out there, to be successful in this remote selling environment.: “Make your sales people really effective marketers. I know that sounds really silly or maybe pretty basic but for us, it's hyper-specialization. Make sure you've got something of value to give and then upscale those traditional marketing skills like demand generation and content creation. I want my sellers to be thinking more like marketers and less like sellers, that we get into this digital environment where email becomes questionable as the primary means by which you get somebody's attention. I want people to focus on being fantastic. If everyone of my sellers could be a really successful social influencer, we'd be doing okay.”
Product-Led Growth and the Future of the Sales Force with Doug Landis, #172
Sales and marketing have evolved significantly in the past few decades, especially in the SaaS space. In the 90s, for example, we had sales-led growth, with sellers doing cold calling and hitting the phones. In the 2000s, it was about marketing-led sales or marketing-led growth, with events, inbound leads and SDRs doing outbound prospecting. Now, according to my guest in this episode of the Modern Selling Podcast, we are moving into a new era of product-led sales. Doug Landis is a Growth Partner at Emergence Capital. In this role, he is responsible for capturing, creating and sharing go-to-market strategies and ideas with the Emergence Capital portfolio companies and the greater SaaS community. Join us in this conversation about the future of the sales force and how to better qualify your leads. What is Product-Led Growth? “I would argue in this generation and especially over the next three to five years,” says Doug, “you're going to see a tectonic shift to product-led growth, meaning the product is leading every single interaction. Instead of us doing outbound prospecting to a brand new client cold, we're actually reaching out to people who are deeply already involved and getting value out of our product.” He gives the example of Slack, Dropbox or Twillio, where people just go to their websites, enter some information and can start using the product right away, getting full value. In this scenario, people have a need and instead of having a sales conversation with a rep or requesting a demo, they can try a product for free and immediately know and understand whether it is the right fit for them, the solution they were looking for. After customers try the product, an SDR would call them and help them get more value out of it. “So now an SDR’s role is different,” Doug says, “because I'm no longer cold calling people who I think are a good fit. I'm actually looking for signals in the product based on how you're using it to call you and help you learn how to get more value out of the product and in doing so you will then become a paying customer.” This scenario implies we are moving from a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) or a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) to a Product Qualified Lead (PQL). And when working with PQLs, both sellers and marketers have a different role in the buying process. SDRs become Product Specialists, now having conversations with prospects who have tried the product, and marketers focus on leading people to a product trial, not a web form. Listen to the whole episode to learn Doug’s predictions about the future of SDRs and how their role will dramatically change. From SDRs to Product Specialists Here are some ways Doug sees the SDR and AE roles shifting: Sales conversations will focus on discovering why a free user should turn into a paying customer. It’s all about upselling opportunities and how the product could be used more broadly across the client’s organization. Using data on product usage to create more sales opportunities. Although many SaaS companies are already doing this, Doug predicts it will be more common in the next two years, as companies ask themselves, how do we get people into our product with the least amount of friction with the most amount of value? This is the future of the sales force and as sales leaders, we must think differently about the characteristics of our sellers and the metrics we use to measure sales success. “What we're looking for is more product signals versus the prototypical marketing signals, like the MQL and the SQL,” Doug says. Listen to the episode to hear how the PQL is more valuable than the MQL, and why Doug thinks the MQL actually doesn’t exist (Hint: they are just contacts until someone talks to them and validates they are a good fit). Also learn why modern sales organizations must change the way they qualify leads and the real job of an account executive.
Interviewing Techniques for Landing a Great Sales Job with Richard Harris, #171
Whether you are a sales leader looking for a new role or an aspiring sales rep looking for your first sales job, you will want to listen closely to what my guest has to say. My guest in this episode of the Modern Selling Podcast is Richard Harris, a seasoned SaaS leader and consultant. Richard has 20 years of sales and sales training experience with companies like Google, Visa, SiriusXM, Pager Duty, Gainsight, Salesloft. He is also the author of Owning Your Job Search: Your step by step guide from application, to salary. The goal of the book is to teach people that they have way more control in the interview process than they think they do. It's all about the mindset. “When you go to a job interview,” Richard says, “you're interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you.” Listen to the episode to learn some tips on how to land your dream sales job. How to Get a Sales Job These are the basic steps to apply for a sales position, according to Richard. 1. You have to update your resume -- that means LinkedIn Although you may still need a resume, your LinkedIn profile is your most up-to-date resume. And in Sales, people will surely find sellers on LinkedIn. “Nobody wants to look at a four-page resume, but they'll scroll till the end of the Earth on LinkedIn,” Richard says. “So LinkedIn is my most optimized page.” Listen to the episode to discover the type of information you should put on top of your LinkedIn profile as a sales professional. 2. Contact the hiring manager The second step is to go to LinkedIn, find the highest person in HR you can or find two or three people in HR and send them a message that says, “Hey, I just applied online. I'd love to know who I should follow up with directly.” Whether they tell you or not, you should try to figure out who the hiring manager is and contact them. If you are connected to them you may see their email and phone number. Richard says you should call them or leave a message. “So when I apply to a job, I'm not applying to a job. I'm applying to the whole company. I'm taking this much larger approach because I already know it's going to be a six-step process, anyway, so I need to put my name in front of as many people as I can. And the beautiful thing about us in sales is that this will be seen as the right thing. It will show that we are tenacious, that we don't take “no” for an answer. When you hire me, this is what you get.” We need to run a sales campaign about us as the product as much as if we were actually selling an individual product for a company. 3. Ask the right questions during the interview One piece of advice I give to people looking for a sales job is, “You get to choose who you work for and you get to choose the company that you work for. So choose wisely.” Richard agrees and says you should be asking some key questions to the interviewer so you can actually choose wisely. “I want to be able to ask politely, when it's my turn, what are the things that you see here that make someone successful and what you know about me so far, what do you think I have and what do you think I don't have?” You want to ask that question to show that you can ask tough questions and you can handle the answers. Another question is: If you could snap your fingers right now and three things in the sales world, in your sales environment can change, what would they be? “They come back and they give me three things and I say, great, so what's preventing it from happening? Because that gives me insight into the culture of the organization and it gives me insight into this person's ability to push for it.” A third question is: Aside from me hitting my number, what do you need someone in this role to do to help you be successful? This is a good question to ask a potential boss because now they are thinking what those things are and now they know you got their back. And another great question is: How many people have been promoted from underneath you? That's a big indication of how good a leader they are right because your job is assuming you want to be promoted. “The whole purpose of the first interview is to get shortlisted to the second, to the third, to the fourth. And what you need to do is you go back to your personal board of directors and you say hey, what do you think they're going to ask? What do you think I should be prepared for?” “And if for some reason you don't get the job you now at least go back and go.Okay, where do I think I missed right where you know,I thought I did this. I thought I did that.” Compensation: Base Salary vs Options A lot of sales reps interviewing for a job may have to decide between a higher base salary, options and commissions. Should you take the higher base salary or more options? Richard says it depends on the career goal and where you are. “If you're an SDR, the options are never going to cash out. So I would take the higher base salary at that role and once I start to hit the manager roles, maybe, but I have to see what it's worth. Options are worthless and a tax liability.” Listen to the episode to learn more about how options work and whether to take the salary or not.
The Index Card Business Plan for Sales Pros and Entrepreneurs with Brian Margolis, #170
Most sales professionals operate without a strategy, which results in a reduction in sales productivity. How can we fix this? That is the topic of discussion in this episode of The Modern Selling Podcast, with my guest, Brain Margolis. Brian is a former environmental/fisheries scientist turned entrepreneur. He is the founder of ProductivityGiant.com and author of the book The Index Card Business Plan for Sales Pros and Entrepreneurs. His client list ranges from individual sales reps to Shark Tank entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies. Brian's Pillar System helps sales pros and entrepreneurs create a strategy so simple, it fits on an index card, but so powerful it’s helped create 7 figure earners and has been licensed by some of the largest companies in the world to train their sales teams. The Need for a Sales Strategy Brian says that sellers can grind their way with their skills and work ethic, but at a certain point they will hit an upper limit, because there are just so many hours they can put into their work every day. What most sales professionals never stick with consistently is having an actual strategy. A strategy is a predetermined place to focus those skills and work ethic. That way, they get the biggest return on investment instead of winging it and being reactive. “When it comes to sales professionals,” Brian says. “I think there are two versions of everybody's business. One is the reactive version, where she just reacts all day, flying by the seat of her pants. And the problem with the reactive version of the business is most of the output doesn't give you anything back. The other one is the intentional version, where she determines ahead of time-based on good criteria, good thinking, where to put her skills, effort, talent, and work ethic so that she gets the biggest return.” And the difference between those two versions of the exact same business, is the difference between failure and success. The challenge that we have is salespeople don't know how to develop a strategy and how to focus on the right areas. Building an Intentional Plan So, how do you build a strategic plan to be intentional? Brian says there are three components or pillars of an intentional plan. 1. Consistency Pillar What are those things that you need to do consistently? What do you already know how to do effectively, that if you just did more of it, you would have the biggest impact on your business? 2. Effectiveness Pillar Many sellers are working hard but they are not getting better at their jobs. They don't become more effective at the skill. “A lot of salespeople consider making 25 cold calls productive,” Brain says. “But yet if I said, would you be willing to spend an hour a week getting better at something, working on your messaging, working on your direct response copywriting, most of them don't see that as work. And so you have to intentionally put time and effort into getting better at those skills so that when you do send the email you get a higher response.” 3. Strategic Pillar Make sure you're doing the things upfront that make everything else more effective. For example, a seller can just make 50 dials, but taking an hour each week to do research on the clients would make those same dials more effective. Brian calls this the pillar system. A pillar is an activity that you control whether it gets done or not. As long as you hit your pillars every week, everything else takes care of itself. Sellers should start every week with a plan of who they are going to call and what they are going to do every day according to those three pillars. Planning their week in advance will revolutionize their results. Be sure to listen to this podcast for more tips and strategies to help your sellers become more productive and successful at their work. Plus, Brian talks about the Index Card Business Plan, where sellers can use index cards to plan out their sales activities.
Why your Sales Pipeline is the Headlights of your Business with Scott Walston, #169
9iu Pipeline generation is one of the biggest challenges to the sales force today. No matter where you go or whatever the organization is, whether it's consulting services or SaaS, pipeline generation is the Achilles heel for most organizations. So how do we solve that problem? That is the topic of this episode of the Modern Selling Podcast with my guest, Scott Walston. Scott is the President of North American Sales at Micro Focus. In this role, he works with Senior Executives to make sure they are receiving incredible value from Micro Focus’ digital transformation solutions, helping them identify solutions that deliver essential business insights, operational efficiencies, and process automation. Don’t miss this great conversation about building and managing the sales pipeline. Why is a Sales Pipeline so Important? For sales leaders, the sales pipeline is the headlights of the business, allowing them to do sales forecasting based on their amount of pipeline and their close ratios. “Now when you're thinking about it from a rep’s perspective,” Scott says, “the pipeline is what allows them to make life-changing money. It's what creates wealth for them.” For example, if a sales rep knows they have a two million dollar quota and they only have four million dollars in the pipeline, they are not going to hit the goal ― not too many sellers have a 50% close-ratio. Scott says that sales leaders should coach reps on interpreting the numbers, knowing the statistics of their industry and understanding the volume of the pipelines they need to be able to achieve their sales goals. Now, how much should you have in your sales pipeline? “That's a data-driven exercise,” Scott says. “I have multiple product groups that roll up to me and each one has a different data set. One of them actually needs 2.7 coverage from pipeline. So if it's a million-dollar quota, they need 3.7 million dollars in pipeline if you do the math. Another group needs 6x coverage. So if they have a million, they need six million dollars. So it really goes back to your Operations and Finance teams to inform the sales leaders on really what historically has been closed because once you understand those historical metrics, you can apply those with some rigor and some certainty.” These numbers can change over time, so sales leaders should look at their pipeline ratios every six months to see if they need to make adjustments. Listen to the episode to learn how Micro Focus reinforces the pipeline ratios in their sales organization. Pipeline Generation Best Practices Scott uses a couple of practices that help his team generate more pipeline. First, he says you should make pipeline generation easy. Provide your sellers with the right sales prospecting tools so they can easily get a message out to multiple customers. “If you give them the content and you give them the tool to disseminate the content, that makes it very easy for the reps to send out thought leadership pieces.” A second practice is what he calls pipeline generation days, which are 2 or 3 days where all they do is attack the pipeline itself in a fun way (with costumes and awards, for example). Listen to find out the fun activities they do at Micro Focus during pipeline generation days. Another best practice is for sales leaders to lead from the front when they have a pipeline generation problem, reaching out to their network, making phone calls and asking for and giving referrals. “There's no better way to build trust with a sales team than getting in the foxhole with them,” Scott says, “making some calls, talking to some customers. That is a show of your commitment to them to be successful.” When Should an Opportunity be Entered into the Pipeline? Scott says there are three areas you need to look at before an opportunity enters the pipeline. Metrics - what metrics is the customer giving you? Indication - is there an indication of pain and a time to resolve that pain? Champion - is there someone inside the organization that will shepherd the deal through? “Oftentimes that takes three or four discovery calls to get there,” Scott says. That's not one and done. It's usually multiple calls to understand if you have an opportunity.” The Role of Content in Pipeline Generation What is the role of content in building a pipeline in a remote selling environment? “If you don't have good content, you’re just not going to reach your customers,” Scott says. There are three types of content: Content that comes from the sellers that shows to the buyer that they understand their business and can add value to the conversation. Thought leadership content created by marketing to help sellers reach their buyer personas. Social media content to develop relationships when prospecting on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. Our jobs as sellers is complex because we need to figure out what is the channel each prospect prefers to engage with (email, video, text, phone) and we must stand out from the crowd in a world where buyers are bombarded with tons of information. That’s why we need a sales methodology that works with the modern buyer, who is digitally savvy and video hungry. Managing the Sales Pipeline So how do we as leaders successfully manage the sales pipeline? Scott says it must be done through data and inspection. “Make sure you inspect the ingest, that you actually understand if this a real opportunity or not. And then, you know, pipeline gets stale. It just happens and it's very difficult. So you have to clean up your pipeline and kill stale opportunities.” Finally, you need to train your frontline managers to identify good opportunities and to look at the data constantly. Only then, you can start building the sale pipeline and creating more sales conversations. Learn more about this fascinating topic in this episode of the Modern Selling Podcast.
5 Keys to Sales Success with Robert Paylor, #168
On May 6, 2017, Robert Paylor broke his neck. On national television. During the Rugby collegiate championship game. Doctors said he would never walk again and would actually be lucky if he could regain any movement below his neck. Yet, almost four years later, Robert is telling an amazing story of recovery, hope, and forgiveness. I’m super excited about having Robert Paylor as my guest in this episode of The Modern Selling podcast. Robert is an international public speaker and, in his own words, a “quadriplegic on a journey to walk again and inspire others.” Don’t miss this episode to hear Rob’s story, some amazing life lessons, as well as valuable keys to sales success for leaders and sellers alike. 1. Mindset Rob was a rising star in UC Berkeley's Rugby team, with a bright future in front of him. But it all changed in an instant. The medical prognosis was that he would be paralyzed for the rest of his life. Rob, however, refused to accept that. Rob’s attitude and mindset after his injury helped him get through the pain and the grueling recovery process. “Don’t take negativity in,” Rob says. “Don’t listen to hopelessness. You have control of your mindset.” One of his secrets is to go on a mental diet. Just as with a food diet where you avoid foods that are bad for your body, a mental diet will avoid bad information into your brain. “Audit your thoughts,” he says. “Decide what is good for you and look for inspiring stories.” I love how Rob’s advice can be applied to the mindset of a seller. Salespeople hear “no” all the time. Rejection is a constant in their work. So, as a sales leader, how do you help your team deal with rejection? Through a mental diet where sellers are inspired by the wins of others and negativity is filtered out. 2. Perspective Another one of Rob’s secrets to stay positive is perspective. “Perspective is a powerful tool. You can compare yourself to others up or down, to what you’ve accomplished or to what you have failed at.” Rob recommends that when you are going through a struggle, you ask yourself, “compared to what?” That will allow you to put your problems into perspective and feel empathy for others. Rob keeps a gratitude journal where he writes down three things he is grateful for every day. Perspective in selling takes many forms. “When pursuing a sale, always keep the buyer's situation in perspective,” says Kurt Shaver, Vengreso’s CSO and Co-Founder. “They may not be on the same timeline as you. They may even be having personal challenges outside of work. Slow or no response from a prospect doesn't always mean there's no interest. Sometimes it just means other priorities are more important right now. Don't risk future business by pushing too hard.” 3. Give It Everything You’ve Got Compared to Rob’s physical trauma, many of our problems in the sales profession pale in comparison. Still, selling can be hard, especially during these times when remote selling is the new normal and we can’t keep doing business as usual. Rob’s advice is to give everything we’ve got, no matter the circumstances. “We have one life,” he says. “Don’t live it as a quitter. Fight and get everything you want.” 4. Find Vision and Purpose His recovery process involves doing physical therapy for three hours every day. But remember that for him, even doing simple things is hard work. The way he motivates himself to keep going is by turning it around and finding purpose in his recovery journey. “I don’t do it for myself, but to inspire others. Find the ‘why’ to keep going forward. You must have a vision.” 'Vision yourself where you want to be in 6 months' time, 1 year time, and 5 years' time in your sales career,” says Diego Garcia, Market Development Manager at Vengreso. “Once you find your purpose and 'the why' of your goals, you can then reverse engineer your plan into daily, weekly, and monthly habits to get where you want to be!” 5. Accountability Accountability has also been an important part of Rob’s journey. He works with a mentor (one of the coaches at UC Berkeley) who helps him set goals and is there to support him. This is an important lesson for us as sales leaders. Our words and coaching are not for our sake, but to help our sellers succeed. Inspiring, moving, and brilliant. Those are just three of the words used to describe this episode with Rob Paylor, that actually moved me to tears. Listen to the whole episode to learn about the power of forgiveness, gratitude, and resiliency.
Accelerating Sales Through Partnering Skills with Fred Copestake, #167
Organizations don't partner, people do. As sales leaders in a remote selling environment, we must teach our sellers how to create successful partnerships that will ultimately increase your sales pipeline. This is the topic of conversation with my guest in this episode of The Modern Selling Podcast, Fred Copestake. Fred is a sales consultant, trainer, and author of Selling Through Partnering Skills, a book that looks at the evolving world of sales and sets out what people need to do to refine their approach. It explores how they can take it to the next level through understanding partnering intelligence (PQ) and using what Fred calls the VALUE Framework. Put simply, it helps individuals and businesses improve how they sell in the modern sales environment so they will achieve better results. The Partnering Quotient PQ or Partnering Quotient refers to the skills that people who are good at partnering have. PQ has the following six elements. 1. Ability to trust Trust is the foundation of relationships and good communication. The trust equation includes credibility, reliability and intimacy. Fred says sellers earn trust when they do what they said they were going to do, when they are knowledgeable and keep their buyer’s information safe. 2. Win-Win Focus Salespeople must understand what value means to their customers, they must listen to what they want, which may be different from what the sellers offer. Both parties have to be happy with what they're aspiring towards. A win-win focus can also help sellers negotiate and resolve a conflict. It can help them make better decisions because they're always focusing on trying to get that mutual benefit, that balance. 3. Comfort with Interdependence Fred says sellers must be willing to give up a bit of control to other people because they're going to have an impact on their success. “I am going to have to give an element of this up,” Fred says. “As an account manager, I would say, I can't do every single thing. I'm going to have to get my team members involved. If the customer says they're going to do something, I have to trust them to do that.” 4. Self-Disclosure and Feedback Self-disclosure is about the sellers giving a little bit about themselves to help clients know what their expectations are. “You might be quite good at getting the customer to talk about what they want,” Fred says. “But we don't always say what we want. So for this to be a good deal for us, this is how it's got to be. Now, feedback is about getting people to tell us whether we're doing a good job or not and whether the partnership is working. Sellers should be looking for it, they should be doing quarterly value reviews.” 5. Comfort with Change Salespeople are change agents. They are always trying to move customers from the status quo to take risks and see the benefits of the solution being presented. Sales leaders should train sellers to understand change and how to move clients faster through the sales process. 6. Future Orientation Salespeople should always be looking forward, making decisions based on where they're going rather than what they've always done and what might have worked in the past. The VALUE Framework So, how do you bring these PQ elements into a modern sales approach? Fred says he uses the PQ elements along with traditional selling techniques and applies them using the VALUE framework. Validate - Is this an actual opportunity? Align - How can I bring some value to the relationship? Leverage - How do I create a good sales conversation? Underpin - How can I prove that this is the right way ahead and that we can work on it together? Evolve - How do we turn this relationship into a partnership? Listen to this episode to learn more about the VALUE framework and how to apply it to your existing sales activities.
How to Go From Rep to Sales Manager with Scott Leese, #166
Every sales leader has a story of what they've learned and what they've gone through in their sales careers. From times when they thought they should have gotten a promotion but didn't get it, to times when they finally got it and then felt they were the worst managers in the world, or realized they were better reps than managers. How can salespeople advance in their careers and become better at their jobs? That is the topic of conversation of this episode of the Modern Selling podcast with my guest, Scott Leese. Scott is a 6x Sales Leader, 3x Author, 3x Entrepreneur and 1x Unicorn builder, who serves as a strategic advisor and consultant to dozens of companies around the world. He specializes in building sales processes and salespeople, maximizing new customer growth, increased average contract value, and upselling and retaining customers. Scott and his coauthor, Ryan Walker, wrote From Rep to Manager for anybody who wants to improve as a sales leader. “There's a lot of books about leadership in general,” Scott says. “There's actually not that many books about how to be a good sales manager or how to become or get a sales manager job.” There's also a gap in the sales training world. There are a lot of virtual sales training courses, but where is the training for sales managers? “One of the reasons that so many reps complain about their bosses is because there's people who are in sales leadership who got no training whatsoever. Nobody taught me how to be a sales manager. I just figured it out along the way, and having done it for nearly 20 years now, I just felt like I got something to give back.” Listen to this episode to learn how to advance your sales career and some great tips on sales management. How do you go from Rep to Manager? If you want to lead, you need a specific mindset and a plan to get into management. Here are four questions you must ask yourself. Am I very good at my job? You don't have to be the number one sales person in the company, but you must be good, building your sales pipeline and hitting quota consistently. Do I really want to move into leadership? If you get more satisfaction out of helping your neighbor close the deal than you actually closing one yourself, even if you're really good at it, that might be an indication that you have the right kind of DNA to be a sales leader. Do you want to make less money? It’s very important to set the right expectations when going into leadership. Do you like helping people in mass quantity? Whether managing a remote selling team or in-house SDRs, you will be helping others become better at their jobs. How do you Go from Good to Great as a Sales Manager? Very few companies have sales management training that teaches how to be a great sales manager, sales director, or VP of sales. So, how do you become a great sales manager? Here are Scotts’s top five tips: 1. Become an apprentice The best way to learn is to align yourself with a mentor, like an apprentice. Find a great VP of Sales or Director that you can learn from. 2. Simplify “You have to understand that your job is to simplify, simplify, simplify,” Scott says. “That means simplify the pitch, simplify the rebuttals for your reps, simplify your feedback to them. So if they do ten things wrong at the same time, don't tell them all ten things. Start with just one thing. Just simplify their lives in general by removing blockers.” Ask your team members, “What can I do to help you today?” Then follow through and deliver, because the moment you stop delivering on that, the trust is broken and it just sounds hollow. “But if you deliver on that consistently for your people, they'll ask you more, which will force you to work a little bit harder and get a little bit better and get a little bit faster at identifying blockers, noticing trends that are blocking more than one rep.” 3. Collaborate with others Sales managers must interact and have good relationships with other departments in the company. They will need the help of Product, Marketing or Customer Success at some point, so they must nurture those relationships. 4. Teach your sellers what they need to know As a sales leader, you must train your reps on the best sales messaging techniques, how to use video for sales and other information that they usually are not aware of. For example, sellers need to understand the financial metrics that will help them sell, such as how much they can discount before losing money. “Reps usually just hear, ‘no, you can't have that discount’, so taking the time to not only explain why they can't have that discount but walking them through how that metric impacts the whole business, will help them understand and trust that you are not only just looking out for them, but you're looking out for the business’ best interest as well.” 5. Make it known that you have a desire to go into leadership Many reps or managers don’t get promoted because they never tell their bosses they want to have a new leadership role. “There's nothing wrong with making your ambitions known,” Scott says. “Say, look I'm interested in moving into leadership. Here are the reasons. Why what do I need to do? What do I need to show you? How can I improve? What are the things I need to work on? Tell me what I need to do. Give me a list and I'm going to go do all of those things and if I do all of those things, I hope to be considered for this particular role.” Don’t miss this episode for more great tips on sales management and don’t forget to grab your copy of Scott’s book From Rep to Manager. Outline of this Sales Managers Episode [10:00] The need for a book for sales managers [14:50] How do you go from rep to manager? [24:42] How do you go from good to great as a sales manager?
How Sales Leaders can Build a Model for Success with Phil Harrell
The average tenure of a sales leader is 18 months. And while there are many reasons why VPs of Sales don’t last long in their jobs, one strong reason (according to my guest) is the lack of a model for success. My guest in this episode is Phil Harrell, VP, Group Director Sales Research at Forrester. He has spoken to many sales organizations around the world and has gathered valuable insights for sales leaders that he shared with me during the podcast. Phil is an industry thought leader in sales and marketing with more than 20 years of experience building and leading high-performance B2B sales teams worldwide. He has held executive-level sales and marketing positions at well-established companies and hyper-growth technology startups and has proven success in growing revenue in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Phil joined Forrester through the acquisition of SiriusDecisions. Prior to SiriusDecisions, he was vice president of sales at HubSpot, where he was responsible for building the mid-market and enterprise businesses. Listen to this episode to learn how you can build a model for success in your sales organization. B2B Buyers Expect B2B Companies to be as Efficient as B2C Companies Phil says that their research at Forrester has shown what buyers expect from sellers and organizations: To be transparent and open, being straightforward with their pricing. To understand them at a very deep level, using the information they gather to personalize every interaction. To be immediate, answering right away when they ask for something. B2C companies have created an expectation of efficiency in the consumer’s mindset, who now wants the same experience in the B2B world. “So as a sales leader,” Phil says, “when you're thinking about your sales organization, you have to think about how to design and optimize the experience your buyers are having to be almost like a consumer experience. Remove friction and make it really easy for your sellers to engage with buyers.” The pandemic has only accelerated this trend. Buyers now are much more comfortable interacting in the virtual world and interacting with salespeople digitally. Remote selling is here to stay. Even after the pandemic, buyers are going to prefer digital engagements (perhaps not all the time), so sellers have to get comfortable helping buyers virtually. Phil says that instead of pushing for a close, the new role of the seller is to help buyers through their journey, help them get the information they need to make a decision. Typically, sellers withhold information to get that 15-minute meeting, but consumers are pushing back for more transparency. Three things that sellers can do to be more transparent are: Publish pricing upfront Ungate content Educate and provide information instead of pushing for the sale Buyers want sellers to anticipate their needs and be hyper responsive, so they can have a great experience. That’s when customer loyalty and advocacy happens. Four Things Sales Leaders Need to Build a Model for Success Phil says that sales leaders need to think about how to build a model for success instead of relying on last-minute deals to hit quota. Most sales leaders don't have a system to make their results repeatable, scalable and predictable. But Phil says that sales leaders should be able to explain the processes they have installed for acquiring and managing talent, managing leads, and managing the execution against opportunity management and against their sales pipeline. If leaders have a really good handle on the productivity and the health of their organization, they’re going to stand out and keep their jobs. Here are the four things you need to build a model for success: A process, from lead generation to onboarding. Infrastructure, including sales prospecting tools and technology to help sellers do their job faster and better, automating processes. Insights about buyer engagement and the buyer’s journey coming from the CRM or AI software, so they can hyper personalize the interactions. Talent with the right competencies, trained in remote and virtual selling. Sales is 51% science and 49%. And the science part has to do with CRM hygiene, gathering and entering the right data (touchpoints, for example) into the system. Sales leaders must use data to help their reps be successful at selling. The Importance of Sales Planning How can sales leaders ensure that they're going to get off to the right start at the beginning of the year? Phil says you got to make sure you've done a really good job on sales planning, from territories to quotas. “One of the critical things you have to do is make sure that you have your sales plan ready early in January and when you get to the kickoff, you roll out the quotas, you roll out the comp plans and you tell the marching orders of exactly what the expectations are from a product perspective and how they're going to get to their number.” Another thing sales leaders must do is prioritize the processes and the technology tools they need to start the year strong. Sales Productivity One of the biggest challenges that is burdening sales organizations is sales productivity. At many companies, only 30% or 40% are hitting their numbers, mainly because of quota over assignment. Phil says he recommends no more than 10% quota over assignment from the VP of sales down to the rep level. Another problem with sales productivity that Phil mentioned has to do with organizations getting bigger and the processes that are put into place affect productivity. “In a startup, it's simple,” Phil says. “Everything is about the buyer and so processes get designed from the buyer into the organization. As you scale, invariably you put in more processes and it gets designed by headquarters and pushed out to the field. And before you know it, you look around and you see all these processes that are designed to actually help the organization, not the customer, and salespeople say it's really hard to get deals done here. Everything takes too long.” Phil recommends doing a survey of your reps to understand what's keeping them from being productive. What are their top challenges? Then you can prioritize the top two or three things that are really in their way. “If you're making it hard on your sellers to do business with the companies that you're trying to do business with, you're making it hard on the buyer. All buyers want immediacy. And if you can't turn something around quickly, if you can't respond within 24 hours from the very start, that's a signal to them that you're not an organization they want to do business with.” That is one of the reasons why here at Vengreso we develop a free sales productivity tool, to help sellers respond to messages on the fly, with well-crafted templates that can be used in any web-based messaging platform with just a few keystrokes. Listen to my conversation with Phil for more tips on how to build a success model for your sales organization and how to make your reps more productive. Outline of this Episode [6:25] B2B Buyers Expect B2B Companies to be as Efficient as B2C Companies [14:30] Four Things Sales Leaders Need to Build a Model for Success [30:25] The Importance of Sales Planning [36:09] Sales Productivity
How to Lead Sales Transformation in a Remote Selling World with Chris O’Brien
Large and small companies alike must adapt to the reality of remote selling. The sales landscape won’t fully be what it used to be, so to thrive, sales leaders must push for sales transformation in their organizations. My guest in this episode of the Modern Selling podcast is an experienced leader from a 16-billion dollar company, who has a lot to say about digital sales transformation. Don’t miss this conversation with Chris O'Brien, Chief Commercial Officer at C.H. Robinson, a global company in the services and transportation industry. Chris has global enterprise wide responsibility for all customer related strategy and functions including overseeing sales, account management, and marketing. In addition to corporate support for these functions, his teams oversee the Global Account Centers and lead the company’s integrated relationships through the Collaborative Outsource® solutions portfolio. At work Chris is passionate about developing the careers of others and driving change for improvements. His areas of expertise are in the fields of sales, customer management, European supply chain management, leadership, mergers and acquisitions, retail supply chains, inbound transportation, transportation outsourcing and Transportation Management Systems (TMS). The Tenure of a Sales Leader Chris has been at CH Robinson for 28 years, an incredibly rare tenure. The typical tenure of a sales leader today is 18 to 24 months, as people move around companies all the time. So, I asked Chris if he thinks his experience can be seen as an advantage or a disadvantage. “I've always tried to make it an advantage,” Chris says. “I've been in a lot of different roles. I've been in three different countries and I think for all of us in the sales and customer-facing world, that it becomes an advantage because you're in front of customers, you're talking to customers, you’re learning their language, you get a bit of exposure to everyone.” Another advantage of growing in a company, according to Chris, is that you would be leading a job you had done before, so you would understand better those who report to you and you can lead by example. Personally, one of the best pieces of advice I can give to the selling community is that before you take a jump from one position to another or from one company to another, make sure you've proven that you've been successful in that particular role. You must build a track record to prove that you can actually succeed in another company or position. The Impact of COVID-19 in the Salesforce The pandemic not only affected C.H. Robinson’s industry but also their salesforce. They had to make decisions and adapt quickly. One thing that they did was to treat this change as permanent in order to really maximize what was going on in the world. “We would act as if part of this was going to continue,” Chris says. First, they adjusted their sales messaging to resonate with what was going on in the Covid environment. For example, during the pandemic companies were trying to cut costs, so C.H. Robinson began to promote their outsourcing services even more. Chris says that their sellers had to adapt and embrace video for sales. “So we jumped right away on training do's and don'ts, the good, bad and the ugly of showing up on video. We tested new technology. We really made sure that we were doing anything that we could to make this fun to keep the world connected.” How Sales Leaders can Drive Sales Transformation A lot of leaders are still not getting the support that they need from senior leadership to leverage the tech tools required for remote sales. For example, we know that video is the hottest thing out there right now, both face-to-face synchronous and asynchronous communications. But it is an area that many sellers have not leveraged fully. So, how do you get the senior leadership team to drive the change and invest in the sales organization? Chris says it starts with company culture. More than just having leaders willing to implement changes, you need a culture that is “just ready to go.” “I think the first component is owning it and living it,” he says. “It is your own personal commitment to say, ‘I see this as a challenge, I will personally commit to coming up with the solution’ versus ‘This is a problem, what am I going to do about this?’ And I think that's too common of an approach. To me, the most important component is leadership commitment.” I totally agree with Chris on this. As leaders, we cannot be in an Ivory Tower. We've got to be in the field, whether it's emotionally or tactically. This is especially true in a remote selling environment, where many sellers feel isolated and even depressed. Sales leaders must offer coaching and support to them. “I believe that sales leadership and sales leaders will need to become much more of individuals who can talk on an emotional level,” Chris says, “not just work through specific items to get the deal closed. We've got to be able to relate to our people. If you needed to do it in person, how much more do we need to be doing it now in a virtual environment?” Career Advice for People Starting in Sales Chris has some great advice for new sellers. Given his position and authority in the marketplace, as well as his years of experience, you should listen carefully to what he says. Think like your customer: “I think that the first step for me is walking in their footsteps and understanding what they really want out of the engagement.” Be curious, always learning: “Your education doesn’t stop when you get a job. Keep reading books, listen to podcasts, be curious.” Do not worry about your career: “Don’t worry about that next promotion. Take care of your customers and your teammates and your career will take care of itself. As I reflect on my career path, I don't recall ever putting together a plan for a promotion. I had plans for customers and developing others and I think people just notice if you're in it for them or if you're in it for yourself.” Listen to this episode to learn more about Chris’s exciting career and how you can drive sales transformation in your own organization. Outline of this sales transformation episode [11:25] Advantages and Disadvantages of settling in a company for a long period of time [23:00] How Sales Leaders can Drive Sales Transformation [36:50] The importance of video in remote selling [43:20] Career Advice for People Starting in Sales
Shifting your Sales Strategy to an Outcome-Based Model with Christoph Schell
One of the biggest challenges for companies in the new normal is serving B2B and B2C customers working from home. Priorities and needs have changed, so sales leaders must also change their sales strategy to match the new commercial landscape. I’m very excited to have a leader in the trenches in this episode of the Modern Selling podcast, who has the experience and the insights to help you navigate through these shifting times. So don’t miss my conversation with Christoph Schell, Chief Commercial Officer at HP Inc. and a member of the HP Executive Leadership Team. The HP commercial team is accountable for all aspects of go-to-market, category and 4P management and manages revenue, margin and Go-to-market OP globally. Listen now and keep reading! The New Commercial Landscape One of the most significant changes across the commercial landscape since the pandemic began is the move of thousands of workers to work and learn virtually. Christoph says that because of the new work-from-home and learn-from-home reality, we have created a new customer segment. It’s not just a consumer, family entertainment segment or a commercial (SMB and Enterprise) segment, but a mix of both, called the prosumer. This has become an opportunity for companies like HP, who serve the business needs of those working from home, but now also have a “foot on the door” to serve the entertainment needs of the worker’s family. This shift to remote selling has impacted the sales strategy at many companies in an interesting way, creating new business opportunities. Organizations are moving very rapidly into outcome-based value propositions across all segments, which, of course, presents new challenges. For instance, with subscription-based models, consumers are not locked into long-term agreements but can cancel at any time, so companies have the pressure to make their services relevant all the time, focusing on workflow and design, and not just hardware. Chistoph says that at HP they are very excited about the subscription model in their printing business. They had planned this change would happen in the next 4 to 5 years but it happened in 5 months because of COVID. Upselling opportunities “I define prosumer as you leave it up to the prosumer to design their own products,” Christoph says. He cites HP’s 3D printing service, which allows consumers to design their own products to obtain their desired outcomes, printing components when and where they are required. The same happened at Vengreso. As a sales training company we used to have one-day in-person events but now have pivoted to a subscription-based model, becoming an exclusively virtual sales training company. The recurring question we ask ourselves and our customers is, what is the recurring value of our products and services? That is a question all salespeople must ask in this new commercial landscape, so we can create new offers that bring upselling revenue. Personalized Offers HP has a subscription service called Instant Ink, where customers pay a fee based on the number of pages they print and not the amount of ink they use. In the backend, the printer is communicating with the HP cloud and as soon as the cartridges are at a 25% fill level, HP sends new cartridges to the customer. This service was available before COVID but it became more popular when people couldn’t go out. It became more convenient. Subscription services are personalized to the needs of the individuals but also allow for adjacency business models, where new services or products can be offered, connecting the different value propositions of the company to particular customers. Christoph provided a great example of how to move from a transactional business into a subscription-based business while personalizing it to the customer. In his example, he says that instead of buying a laptop, people could rent one and pay a subscription. The subscription plan could be personalized to the usage patterns of the machine, such as one rate for weekdays when the CPU usage is normal (work-related tasks) and another rate for the weekends when the CPU usage is high (gaming and entertainment) and the customer may need to connect to certain cloud services. The bottom line here is to find relevance within your customer base, create solutions that drive subscription-based revenue and make it easy to upsell features. Shifting the Sales Conversation How do you bring that relevancy and personalization discussion to the sales conversation? “First, you need to have a value proposition that is relevant,” Christoph says. “Then you need to change the pitch and the engagement approach because you are moving from a transactional sale to an outcome-based sale.” For example, in B2B, transactional sales occur with a procurement team, but an outcome-based sale occurs with the C-level executives or the heads of the departments that need that outcome. That kind of sale requires daily or weekly interactions. It’s not just dropping off the hardware after the sale, but providing continuous service once the sale is awarded. In today’s virtual engagements, where video calls are ubiquitous, people sometimes turn the camera off and sellers can’t see their prospect’s face, so it’s harder to pitch. That’s why sellers have to stand out using social media, engaging with the prospect way before the call, knowing who they are and what is important in their lives. They must connect, engage and build rapport with prospects through social networks, so when they get to the pitch, prospects already know who they are. The Future of Social Selling “Social selling is very important,” Christoph says. “You are now mixing the brand with your own brand, representing your company, their values. Sellers need to be consistent with their personal brands and align them to the company’s brand.” Christoph says he builds his brand on LinkedIn and teaches his team to do the same. He spends 90 minutes every day on LinkedIn, finding leads and opportunities, and engaging in conversations. “The future of social selling is that you will have a direct touch through social selling channels with every single customer, so the value propositions will have to be hyper-personalized.” Today, modern sellers must be digitally connected, socially engaged, mobile-attached, and video hungry, because that is the description of the modern buyer. Listen to the whole episode to learn more about shifting your sales strategy to an outcome-based model and how HP is innovating with subscriptions and annuities, so you can implement similar strategies in your organization. Outline of this Sales Strategy Podcast Episode [2:00] About Christoph Schell [8:15] How has the commercial landscape changed since the pandemic began? [13:20] How has the shift to remote working affected sales strategy? [18:52] Personalized offers [31:20] How do you bring relevancy and personalization to sales conversations? [47:47] The future of social selling
How to Drive Predictable Sales Revenue with Kevin Knieriem
One of the most common struggles for sales leaders is forecasting, understanding what is going on with the business and how to get predictable revenue. In this episode of the Modern Selling Podcast, my guest, Kevin Knieriem, CRO at Clari, talks about using Artificial Intelligence for sales forecasting. Clari’s Revenue Operations Platform automatically gathers data from across your emails, meetings, marketing campaigns and CRM data, and then uses its AI to create dashboards and execution insights. Kevin brings more than 20 years of experience driving revenue growth and building successful sales teams for leading enterprise giants and high-growth startups. Most recently, he spent more than four years at Oracle where he held several leadership positions, including CRO at DataScience.com (acquired by Oracle in June 2018). In this role, Kevin led DataScience.com’s demand generation, field marketing, sales and customer success initiatives from pre-revenue through acquisition by Oracle. During this time, DataScience.com helped define and then lead the Forrester Wave for Predictive Analytics & Machine Learning Platforms. Prior to that, he spent over a decade at SAP where he led regional and national organizations. Don’t miss this exciting conversation to learn how to use AI to predict revenue. This podcast is brought to you by Postal.io. A Sales and marketing engagement platform that generates leads increases sales and improves customer retention. Request a demo to learn how to integrate direct mail and gift into your existing strategy by visiting Postal.io. Why is predicting revenue a challenge for sales leaders? The market has changed significantly in the last few years, where buyers don’t engage with reps at the top of the funnel, but later in the sales cycle. Modern buyers are consuming content and finding information on their own about the solutions they are seeking. And although there are many touchpoints in this process, CRMs don’t gather data from them, but only from those interactions between the buyer and the sales rep. The customer journey is not linear, anymore, especially in B2B enterprise sales, where sellers deal with multiple buyer personas within the same company in long sales cycles. Furthermore, most sales reps are not trained to gather and interpret prospects’ buying signals correctly. That’s why sales leaders need data to understand everything that is happening in the sales process to identify risks and opportunities. Traditional B2B sales forecasting are often inaccurate and lead to missing sales targets, but many sales AI-based predictive analytics tools are now available to help sales organizations obtain predictive revenue. AI-based forecasting methods are the most accurate, such as Clari’s technology. The Impact of Missing your Sales Forecasts Kevin says that the single most important number to any company is their ability to forecast. The forecast is a direct input into the operating plan of the company. If you know what you are able to overachieve, you can make investments to accelerate the business; and if you can predict where you will underachieve, you can forego some investments and figure out how to close that gap so you can hit the numbers. Data Needed to Forecast Revenue Every seller is different and every manager is different. That is why sales don’t have a consistent way to be measured or a consistent process. In traditional forecasting, the sales manager interrogates every sales rep in the team, enters some data into a spreadsheet and forecasts future sales from that data. Kevins says that sellers should be savvier when analyzing data to get a clear view of their opportunities. For example, they should ask themselves if the customer is actually engaging with them, replying to emails and opening documents. By the way, the best way to achieve engagement is with the right sales methodology. “All that is a signal of where you’re going,” Kevin says. “With that data available, both the manager and the rep will know where they are and what to do to change the narrative and assess whether it is worth pursuing a deal or not. We need a process to tell us what a healthy opportunity looks like as it goes through the funnel. With years worth of history, AI can make predictions of what a good opportunity is.” Instead of relying on intuition or the sales pipeline stages, sellers need to focus on engagement and activities that show that the deal is moving forward. For example, are they engaged with the executive buyer? Do they know where the budget is coming from? Where are they in the paperwork process? In the security process? Kevin says that companies need to establish what a good deal looks like, what a bad deal looks like and what one in between looks like. Data is vital in a sales forecast. The right data can help sellers know where they are and what they need to do to close the deal. “You need the ability to look forward,” Kevin says, “to look at the pipeline and know if you are building the right kind of pipeline with the right persona moving through the sales stages the way they should. In other words, having visibility up the funnel, see how it moves and use that information to predict if you have enough pipeline to hit your target for the quarter.” Good sellers will know how to use this data to their advantage, to figure out where they are; and managers and leaders will lead differently, knowing where to invest their time. According to Kevin, a sales forecast must have these three inputs: Current quarter opportunities: What does a healthy opportunity look like? Collect the data in your CRM and non-CRM systems to get a view of healthy opportunities. Renewals business: Most SaaS companies have renewals as part of their business model. Collect data for healthy customers, customers impacted by COVID or customers booming and categorize them. Activity across the board: Review if sellers are building the pipeline they need to reach the forecast. “If you have the data in real-time,” Kevin says, “you can know which deals are going to slip and not wait until the end of the quarter to find out. Then you can take action immediately.” Predicting revenue is an art and you must get good at it and have consistent wins. Forecasting well starts the quarter before. You should be able to forecast the quota of Q4 while still in Q3. The earlier and more accurate the forecast, the more valuable it is to the company to make decisions.
Sales Prospecting Tools that Will ROCK your World
With digital selling taking over traditional sales methodologies, there has never been a more exciting time to be in sales. Leveraging technology, social selling and sales prospecting tools has ushered in a new era for anyone pursuing a career in sales. For the first time ever, buyers and sellers are completely aligned. Buyer behavior and selling motion are completely in sync and it is through correct B2B prospecting that we can succeed in this always-evolving field. However, with so many sales prospecting tools out there, how do you know which ones are worth your time and money? To help you out, I’ve put together a compendium of my favorite B2B sales prospecting tools: a list of both free and paid tools that will surely turn heads and help you get the best out of your sales team. But before we start, let’s define what sales prospecting is. What is Sales Prospecting? Sales prospecting is the art of searching for customers, buyers, and potential long term clients to help you grow your team’s sales pipeline. It is the art of finding those who most resemble your target buyer and initiate conversations or engage with them. When scouting for a sales prospect it is important to identify those who are the best fit for your offerings. Traditional sales methodologies were heavily focused on closing deals and not much on identifying whether or not, both the buyer and the organization, were a good fit between them in the long run. That’s why we created the PVC Method, a sales methodology that focuses on prospecting. Prospecting is not to be confused with lead generation and prospecting tools aren’t lead generation software. What is the difference between a lead and prospect? This is one of the most common misconceptions among those just entering the sales field. I’ll quickly elaborate on both. A lead is someone who expresses interest in your product or service, visits your website, watches your videos or even fills out a form. It is often associated with the inbound sales process. A prospect is someone potentially qualified, aligned with your target persona, that has engaged with you in some way, shape or form. It is more outbound related. Both leads and prospects need to be nurtured and driven down your sales funnel in order to ultimately become buyers. Now let’s dive into sales prospecting tools. Listen to Episode #161 of the Modern Selling Podcast where I talk with Vengreso’s CBO and Co-Founder, Kurt Shaver, about my favorite sales prospecting tools. What are Sales Prospecting Tools? In any industry, the competition is high when it comes to finding potential buyers and convincing them to buy your product or service. This is a challenging task, and in order to achieve your sales goals, it is critical to be open and knowledgeable about new strategies, tools, and technologies that can level up your team’s prospecting game. A sales prospecting tool is any software that helps you automate small, repetitive tasks, so your sales reps can save time and deliver the right messaging to your prospects. These tools will give your sales reps all the necessary information, as well as help you make the best decision to determine whether a person is a good fit or not for your organization. It helps with sales productivity and efficiency that will leverage the engagement with your buyer persona. Prospecting tools will essentially help you gather more information, move faster, target the right people and engage prospects in a more meaningful way in order to close more deals. Sales Prospecting Tools to Find Contact Details Within the realm of sales prospecting tools, there are a myriad of use cases, designed for specific tasks. Here are a few of tools that allow sellers find contact details: Seamless and Zoominfo - Often called the Google of contact searching, these tools allow sellers to not only search for prospects’ email, website, and contact info, but also export these newly found prospects into a CSV. Prospect.io - By using their Chrome extension, sellers are able to instantly search for decision makers within a domain name. Using AI, Prospect.io pulls up a list of emails, phone numbers and other relevant information within any organization. Additionally, with Prospect.io you can save a contact or, within seconds, send them an email. If you’ve sent an email, prospect’s tracking tool allows you to see if they’ve opened it, replied, and even converted on your website. LinkedHub - Instead of spending time on data entry from LinkedIn to Hubspot, this B2B prospecting tool allows users to synchronize all info and messages directly into HubSpot. This beats the hassle of copying and pasting with the possibility of skipping valuable information. It tracks and synchronizes sales messaging from LinkedIn. Tools to Qualify Prospects A second category of sales prospecting tools I’d like to dive into are those tools that help B2B sales teams qualify prospects. These tools help sellers assess how likely it is that a person will eventually buy from their organization. LinkedIn Sales Navigator or LinkedIn - LinkedIn and LinkedIn Sales Navigator are two separate tools. The later features a more powerful set of search capabilities and personalized algorithms to help your sellers reach the right decision maker. Learn more about the difference between the free LinkedIn and LinkedIn Premium, including Sales Navigator. Crystal Knows - This is an AI sales tool that allows your sellers to get an inside scoop on any prospect before they reach out. This somewhat eerie tool reads all the information on the prospect that is available in the web and summarizes anything —from latest news to the kind of tone a prospect prefers to be reached out. For example, should the seller greet “Hey Mario” or “Dear Mario;” should they use a “best friend voice” or sound casual. Crystal Knows allows sellers to decipher how to reach out before they actually do. It’s like having their own crystal ball before they contact a prospect. Tools for Booking Meetings Once sellers have the contact information and have qualified these prospects, they need to book a meeting because, let’s face it, the end result of successful prospecting is starting a conversation and eventually booking a meeting. Nevertheless, there are often instances where there are more than two people involved in a sales meeting. In order to successfully schedule the availability of several parties, here are a few of my favorite tools to complete this task: Calendly Time Trade Hubspot Meeting Links Doodle Many sales professionals will incorrectly send their info and expect a prospect to instantly engage and book a meeting with them. Instead, I recommend using one of these tools, sending a link and have the prospects choose the best time for them. Tools for engaging your sales prospect There are over 700 tools in the sales tech stack in the market today and many specialize in the function of engaging prospects. Which is why I’d like to further divide this category into sub-categories. Sales Engagement, Sales Productivity and Sales Efficiency FlyMSG - This is one of my favorite sales tools as it falls not only under the sales engagement platform category but is also in the realm of sales productivity and sales efficiency. FlyMSG is the first text expander tool that was thought of and built for the modern seller. The tool was developed by us, here at Vengreso, and it allows sales pros (as well as marketers) to quickly pull up their favorite sales messages, emails and scripts using a few simple keystrokes. With these abbreviations (known as flycuts) users won’t have to look through old emails and notepads to find their favorite content. The tool is a Chrome Extension that will instantly increase your team’s sales productivity and uniformity across your sales messaging. Here’s a use case example. Say someone offered me the opportunity to guest blog for Vengreso’s blog. Instead of looking through the last email I sent a former guest blogger, I created a flycut where I've already copied and pasted the desired content. This email’s content can be instantly pulled up using an abbreviation. This tool is great not just for sellers but also sales leaders and marketers who wish to increase productivity, especially during the remote selling era where every minute working from home counts. Sales Cadence Within the sales cadence realm there are four main tools: Xant Outreach SalesLoft VanillaSoft While a sales productivity tool like FlyMSG will help with 1 to 1 messaging, sales cadence tools will grab these individual messages they’ve created and throw them all together in a sequence, thus improving their chances of sending prospects directly down their sales pipeline. By harnessing the power of both types of tools, you’ll not only save time and create uniformity, but you’ll also become more organized in your sales prospecting techniques. Sales/Content Engagement Platforms These tools help sellers look at the different pieces of content they have available from marketing and help them create 1 to 1 level engagement in prospecting. A great hub to save all of your content in one place and know what to use and when. Seismic HighSpot Big tin can Showpad Postal.io Sendoso The last two are known as gift and direct level marketing tools. These are used by sellers to engage with their buyers offline through sales gifts. Sales Video Still within the realm of sales engagement, but worthy of its own category, video for sales prospecting has been huge in 2020 in the world of virtual selling. We offer a selling with video training program specifically for this type of engagement platform. With in-person events postponed until who knows when, video (both synchronous and asynchronous) is the next best thing to have prospects see and build trust with sellers. A few of my favorite video selling engagement platforms are: OneMob HippoVideo BombBomb Vidyard Videolicious CoVideo These tools allow sellers to not only create and send videos but also add various filters to make them more engaging, as well as allowing sellers to see how many times their videos have been viewed. Tools for sales prospect meetings Now that your sellers have a date for the actual sales meeting, they’re going to want to know what tools to use to host the meeting, what to do during and what to do after said meeting has finalized. Zoom Video Communications - The preferred tool to host virtual sales meetings. OrgChartHub - A tool that lets sellers build an org chart directly within HubSpot. Not necessarily a tool that is used with the prospect directly, but a tool that I use in every meeting. This helps bridge the gap between customer success, support and sales. Gong.io - Gong will both record meetings as well as take notes for you. A sales intelligence tool to both prospect and revisit meetings with your sellers thus improving their confidence and cold calling abilities. Tools for social content sharing, inbound prospecting, and social selling A few sections ago I spoke about the difference between a lead and a prospect and how they relate to inbound and outbound sales respectively. One of the ways to generate inbound traffic is by teaching your sellers how to share content on social networks thus, build credibility and visibility. It isn’t necessarily part of a social media strategy but it will help keep buyers engaged. There are two types of content sharing platforms sellers can use. It can either be 1 to 1 sharing or one to many. On the one to many, we have tools that are also known as employee advocacy programs but are most commonly known as content sharing platforms. The content can be filtered by a plethora of categories to share both personal and business-related information. A few of our favorites are: EveryoneSocial GaggleAmp DynamicSignals GrapeVine6 On the 1 to 1 content sharing, I’d like to highlight the benefits of FlyMSG. Sellers who notice a new view on their profile can instantly send a pre-created, tailored message to the prospect who has viewed their profile. In this case, I have created a message for this particular scenario where someone has viewed my profile and, by using the flycut /thxview, within a blink I can send them an elaborate 289 character message thanking them for viewing my profile. The Best Sales Prospecting Tools to Use in 2021 if you’re a Sales Leader I’ve gone over quite a few sales prospecting tools over the course of this article, but to wrap this up, I’d like to summarize the best sales prospecting tools to use in 2021. If you have a limited budget or would like to narrow down the tools to only the ones that you can’t do without. Here is a list of my favorites. FlyMSG - For an all-in-one sales productivity, engagement and effectiveness tool, look no further than FlyMSG. Save time on tedious tasks and standardize your sales messaging and personalized emails. LinkedIn Sales Navigator - For sales qualification and sales engagement. This platform isn’t a requirement, in fact, most of our current clients aren’t LinkedIn Sales Navigator users. But if you have the budget, we recommend you use this tool. LinkedHub - The best tool to find prospects and sync them directly on to HubSpot. Seamless.ai - For looking up contact details this is my favorite tool. Seismic - For sales engagement and content platform, Seismic. One of the 800-pound gorillas in this segment. Postal.io - For gift marketing and direct mail. OneMob - For video for sales, OneMob’s salesforce integration makes them my choice for top video for sales platforms. HippoVideo - Similar to OneMob but their integration to HubSpot makes them a sales leader’s favorite. Both HippoVideo and OneMob allow sellers to create custom, content landing pages which ensures your prospects engage with sellers directly. Gong.io - For meetings, I would leverage this tool as it not only records every call, but its ability to also take notes makes it well worth the investment. Calendly - My favorite tool for booking meetings. EveryoneSocial - For social selling and content sharing. With virtual selling potentially setting the stage for a new line of sales prospecting methods, in just 6 months time, we might just be adding to this list of tools, so stay tuned.
A Successful Sales Plan Requires these 4 Pillars with Remy Piazza
A sales plan or sales strategy can be the difference between an organization merely surviving and a company exceeding all sales objectives. With so many ups and downs this year, as well as company pivots and new long-term strategies, sales planning is more important than ever. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a born leader to devise a master marketing plan or hit your sales objectives. The best sales manager isn't measured by how many degrees they have or accolades received. They are molded through their years of experience. As the host of The Modern Selling Podcast, I relish the opportunity to speak to successful sales leaders from all sides of the spectrum. This week is no exception, as I speak to Remy Piazza, Chief Sales Officer of Bureau Veritas of North America. Bureau Veritas is a global testing inspection and certification company. They test everything from the food we eat and the water we drink to airplanes that we’ll eventually go back to when we travel. The 4 Pillars for a Successful Sales Plan In this episode, Remy and I discuss the four pillars for a strategic sales plan. These pillars have been Remy’s mantra through his years at the helm of various sales departments of world-renowned organizations. They cover everything from go-to-market strategies, sales prospecting, and even having the right team for the job. There’s a notion that, as sales leaders transfer from one company to another, they tend to stay within the same industry. While most leaders vertically align themselves with the industries they know, Remy has found joy in being in a leadership position and hitting a sales goal in a variety of industries. For this reason, business leaders can apply Remy’s four pillars to any industry. Note: Before we go through the pillars, you need to understand that Remy’s sales plan template needs to be carried out in order. You must go chronologically from Step one through four. Those who begin in the middle - and/or go out of order - are unlikely to achieve success. If you feel you’ve got all four pillars covered, I highly recommend a more granular sales methodology called the PVC Sales Methodology. #1 - Define and Document your Segmentation Let’s face it. A sales leader doesn’t get hired when things are prosperous in an organization. Leaders are hired to either put out fires or to devise a pivoting strategy. Remy recommends, before starting the blueprint, to look at all addressable markets. For instance, which industries do you sell to or want to sell to? Once this is done, you zero-in on the accounts you want to serve. Then, it’s about buyer segmentation and analysis. Learn about who your ideal customer is, what they look like, and why they are looking for what you offer. Once you understand your target audience, you can understand the buyer journey; what they’re looking to receive from your sellers at every stage. Next, you need someone to extrapolate and analyze the data. If you don’t have this, in the words of Tony Robbins, “You’re running east looking for a sunset and no matter how fast you run, you’re never going to catch it.” Data without analysis is just simple Xs and O’s. A marketing strategy is crucial to speak directly to your potential customers. According to Remy, you need to have a wartime plan to have a successful sales strategy. Prior to COVID, businesses could just continue to target those who had purchased from them in the past. Today, the buyer persona might have changed. For this reason, sales management must be more aligned than ever with their sellers and marketing. You come up with the tactics, but it is the individual sellers who will execute. Which brings us to the second pillar. #2 - Set a Go-to-Market Strategy Once you have your segmentation, you can hit the ground running and implement a strategy. We’re living in a time where buyer behavior is completely aligned with selling motion. Since we’re all digitally connected, socially engaged, mobile attached, and video hungry, sales leaders have no choice but to embrace digital sales and social media. But now comes another decision: Within digital sales, in which direction will you strategize? Direct models? Partnerships. Major or small markets? Now we have reached the third pillar: a key element. #3 - Successful Sales Leadership Depends on Having the Right Players on your Team Many NFL fans would agree that without Tom Brady, Bill Belichick likely would not have had the support of his cast. It takes a great leader to run a team of successful sellers. However, the sales rep not only has to execute the strategies. They also have to buy into the leader’s vision. Underperforming sales managers will skip pillars one and two, and head straight to hiring the right people. Yet, unless you know the first two pillars, you will not know who you need to hire. But how does a great sales leader know when they have the right people on their teams? According to Remy, you need to get in the field and ride with them in addition to digital sales coaching. Interact with your salespeople and experience what it's like to be with them in front of prospects or customers. Do your team members understand your company’s value proposition and sales pipeline? When sales leaders understand what their team members do well - and where they struggle - it’s easier to determine who can meet expectations moving forward. Back when I was an SDR, my company used Predictive Index to evaluate my performance. This tool provides great insight and information on how - and where - your team needs coaching. It will not determine whether or not someone would be a good hire, but it can reinforce a hunch. #4 - Importance of Sales Enablement in Every Sales Plan This relatively new field is all about leveraging data and supporting your sales team. Sales enablement is the beautiful orchestration point between sales and marketing. You can: Create a Value Proposition Research buyers and markets Learn where they digitally hang out Discover what kind of content will resonate with them Learn how and where they’ll consume the content Successful sales leadership is 50% talent and 50% sales-team support. Sales enablement is an instrumental component in helping your sellers. Back in the day, the role of a salesperson was different than it is now. To engage with potential and existing customers, all you had to do was give them a brochure with all of your information. Now, prospects can get all that info and more just by visiting a website. Modern-day sellers are consultants. And sales enablement teams feed your sellers the right data to fulfill that role. Achieving Successful Sales Leadership Successful sales leadership requires defining and documenting segmentation, having the right people, and eventually embracing sales enablement. Once you’ve gone through every one of these pillars - in order - you will have a starting point for your current sales leadership role, as well as future leadership positions.