How I Sold My Sales Team On These 7 Steps For Scale
Getting your sales team into scaling mode is an exciting time with many new challenges. As a CEO, your leadership style needs to change to reflect this new phase. You can no longer make decisions on every aspect of the business and expect people to fall into line. You end up relying on setting the best example in your day-to-day activities so that each department follows that example in theirs. As teams form and leaders emerge, core values and culture make more of an impact than directives and mandates.
I wrote last week about how we created a heightened urgency around sales in our start-up. But sometimes, the bigger challenge is instilling a start-up culture in your sales team. When we started out at Datahug, we identified seven key elements we wanted in our sales culture.
Here’s how and why I pitched these values to our new team:
The ability to iterate your sales process in the face of shifting tides is key to survival for any sales team. Buyers’ habits evolve over time. In recent years, buying committees have grown in size and customers have grown much more skeptical around the claims of technology vendors.
The pitch: Demonstrate to your sales team how your ideal customers have bought in the past. Show them how much those patterns vary. This forces everyone to assess each deal on its own merits, rather than succumbing to the temptation of pushing deals through a linear funnel.
Focus on Closing
Young sales teams sometimes get carried away with the tools and technology that drive the top of the funnel. This can lead to a deluge of meetings that don’t convert, or worse, the perception that you have just spammed your entire market with a generic or thoughtless message.
The pitch: Increase the awareness across your team of the types of customers that typically convert. Make sure that Sales Development Reps (SDRs) sit in on sales calls from a very early stage to understand real customer problems. Compensate for meetings only with companies that are a good fit.
We strive for a frictionless sales process. This means that when systematic blockers arise such as a message that isn’t resonating or an onboarding issue, we find them fast and fix them fast. This early warning system ensures reps are not stuck working on problems in isolation.
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The pitch: Sell your sales team on the benefits of asking for help. One way to encourage this is to ensure you are being helpful when you are asked. Take an interest, go the extra mile, and stay engaged until the problem is fully resolved and the deal is moving again. This, combined with efficient pipeline tracking, helps ensure that big problems are quickly surfaced.
Sales teams have the potential to exert a profound degree of influence on the rest of the organization. This is because salespeople are able to understand their customers in a way that transcends, and often benefits, the understanding of other departments.
The pitch: To encourage salespeople to become influential, we created regular lunch-and-learns, where sales reps share how they do their job with the rest of the company. We also make sure that sales success is the most celebrated brand of success in the company.
Your customers are often confused by you and all of your competitors. This slows down your sales cycle, along with your customer’s ability to get to the next level in their business. Prospects crave insight; it all comes down to your ability to nail down the exact reasons why they should make an immediate change in their business.
The pitch: On this one, they pitched me. Building a team that can deliver insights comes down simply to how you hire. If a sales candidate approaches a mock demo with a feature-first mentality, rather than a conversation about your business, you know they’ve got a steep hill to climb. I wrote previously on the importance of hiring listeners over talkers.
Each stage of the sales pipeline necessitates a different set of skills. Optimized sales teams understand the various competencies required to find a lead, set an appointment and successfully close a deal.
The pitch: Ask your team to keep track of how much time they spend on non-selling activities. Productivity increases dramatically after roles are specialized. For the price of one junior intern, we added two hours of actual sales work into each of our SDRs’ daily routines.
Transparency is crucial to the long-term success and sustainability of sales departments. Salespeople can learn from the successes and failures of their colleagues, which improves the team as a whole.
The pitch: To sell this to my sales team, I started by being transparent as a CEO. When senior management practiced transparency with their KPI’s, a culture of transparency for our sales team followed naturally.
Sales Team Transformation
As sellers of transformation, technology companies should be experts in implementing change at home. You may have created core values for our company. Creating and living the values of your sales team is equally important for the survival of your company.