Aaron Ross created an industry when he wrote his book called “Predictable Revenue”. In it, he advocated the use of specialized prospecting, or Sales Development, teams as a device to provide a predictable growth curve for a company. Most companies nowadays are adopting these teams not as a means to achieve predictable revenue, but as a pre-requisite to achieving any revenue.
I’m proud to welcome Don Otvos as our VP of Inside Sales and Sales Operations at Datahug. Don has over 20 years’ experience in high-tech sales leadership at companies like Yammer and App Annie. It is a huge moment for us as Don is one of the best known and well respected Sales Operations professionals in Silicon Valley.
We’ve all had situations where a salesperson leaves your company, you divvy up his or her deals among the team, and those deals wither on the vine because no one knows the key contacts or the real state of the deal. All of the time and effort spent generating that lead, qualifying it as a real deal, and bringing it to a certain stage of engagement is wasted, let alone the potential revenue.
How can you best manage the loss of a good rep?
It’s the beginning of a New Year and everywhere you look there are signs for cleanses, detoxes and fasts to jump-start 2015. Starting with a clean slate doesn’t just apply to personal health and is often overlooked in sales organizations.
Unfortunately, many pipeline reports are a little unhealthy right now, as deals that didn’t close last month ended up being pushed into the new quarter. Now you’re struggling to tell the difference between the opportunities that have a realistic chance of success and the ones that are well past their sell-by date.
How do sales managers know how much quality pipeline they really have?
Seth Godin wrote the book on quitting. “The Dip” describes how, in life, you can be more successful by picking your battles. His philosophy is that people need to learn the difference between what he calls “Dips” and “Cliffs”.
“Dips” are scenarios where it is worth being persistent. There may be no reward in the short run, but perseverance pays off over time. “Cliffs”, on the other hand, are situations where no amount of additional effort will lead to success.
So, how do you know when to quit on a sales prospect?
Many sales execs believe there is an ideal activity plan for deals of particular sizes and complexities. They put a lot of effort both into developing a taxonomy to classify each deal, and also writing detailed programs to work those deals. If only they can prescribe the milestones, triggers, and next steps, their salespeople ought to be able to close more deals faster.
Is a fully prescribed sales process always the best approach?
I started my career in a sales recruiting role with an innovative startup that set out to provide guidance and opportunities for salespeople, and to council and support rapidly growing Silicon Valley tech companies.
In talking with possibly thousands of sales professionals, I heard a common theme in what they were looking for in a new opportunity. They wanted money (no surprise there), but they also wanted support, a place where they can hit their number and – this is big – not to be micro-managed. Salespeople dread those tedious weekly meetings with over-zealous sales leadership where they walk through every opportunity and discuss the progress or lack of progress with every deal in the pipeline. At the end of the day, a salesperson wants to close as many deals as possible without having someone breathing down their neck.
This is a guest post by Cary Fulbright, Cloud Executive and former VP/CMO/COO at Jobscience, Saaspoint and salesforce.com.
John James Audubon was a pioneer in cataloguing the birds of America, including their unique habits. His work revolutionized ornithology and captivated American and European audiences. He even identified 25 new species of bird.
You can see similar diversity of plumage and behavior among salespeople when it comes to forecasting their deals toward the end of each quarter. While we haven’t found the over 300 types that Audubon painted, we thought we’d provide some examples that illustrate the point.
Most companies claim to have a sales process or methodology, but many times it’s so burdensome that the sales team doesn’t bother with it at all. Focusing on just the basics – like identifying decision makers, buyers, and influencers – goes a long way to achieving the benefits of increasing sales efficiency.
How many companies have you worked at or worked with that had adopted the sales methodology de jour? Whether it’s Solution Selling, SPIN Selling, Challenger Sale, Customer Centric, or Miller-Heiman, we’ve all been through the training and the documentation that goes with them. The goal of a consistent and predictable sales process makes complete sense, but too many companies take the implementation and imposition of the sales methodology too far, in particular by hard-wiring it into their sales force automation or CRM system. While the VP of Sales and Sales Operations think they’re turning on sales acceleration, they’re actually turning off the sales team.
The Conventional Approach
Conventional wisdom is often wrong. Did you hear that making the number is all that matters in sales? Did you hear that results are determined at the end of each quarter? Does hitting or missing quotas show what your team is capable of besides the fact that they missed an arbitrary number?
The numbers sales people hope to achieve are often based on previous sales performance. Placing a fixed number encourages success, BUT does it put a limit on what might actually be possible?