As a new sales manager it’s easy to get caught up in a million different initiatives and lose track of what is really important: your team. After all, without a team you won’t hit your numbers. So, here are a few things to think about before your team completely writes you off as their new manager:
Assess The Sales Process
Nothing is more frustrating and crippling to your sales reps productivity then an inefficient sales process. Lack of process leads to reps storing account and contact information in Google Docs rather than putting that precious information into Salesforce. When it comes time to make tweaks to your marketing initiatives and defining your ICP, you will end up with a lot of missing data you believed you had been tracking all along. Continue reading
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Although an extremely important concept in sales, how to calculate sales ramp up time is often unknown by sales leadership. Learning how to calculate your sales ramp up time allows you to make more informed hiring and forecasting decisions.
At its most basic, sales ramp up refers to the the time it takes a salesperson from when they are first hired to when they are fully productive. Although a simple concept, there is currently no industry standard and companies calculate ramp up in many different ways. Continue reading
I was recently involved in a sales call at Ideal Candidate with a company run by a couple of old friends of mine. While I was comfortable asking their help to setup the initial call, I am not the kind of person to abuse that relationship to push a sale – I’d much rather their company see the value proposition in our product.
Unfortunately on the sales call I probably talked too much – I am after all, a technologist.
I am hugely enthusiastic about our technology and our science. But that doesn’t explain the actual value our our product.
I’ve been thinking about this since the call. Continue reading
No one needs to remind you that your company’s future heavily depends on the success of your sales team. But are you reminding yourself of this critical question: Am I hiring enough salespeople?
Let’s look at the numbers to see how big your sales team needs to be for your company to out-sell and out-grow your competitors.
How big should your sales team be?
InsightSquared’s blog recently featured the numbers on HubSpot’s headcount back in 2009. At 100 employees, 36% of HubSpot’s employees were in sales.
Today, HubSpot has over 1,200 employees with an even bigger percentage of them in sales: around 39%. Continue reading
There’s a growing emphasis on customer focus these days. Approximately 30% of Fortune 500 companies use a customer-centric organizational structure (i.e., business units organized around specific customer segments) rather than a product-centric one. But is there a danger in being too customer-centric?
A recent Harvard Business Review article by Professor Lee and colleagues details the surprising costs of being a customer-centric company.
The benefits of being customer-centric
Lee and colleagues’ research on 137 Fortune 500 firms finds that customer-centricity results in:
greater knowledge of customer groups (e.g., uncover unmet needs)
higher customer satisfaction
The costs of being customer-centric
This research also found that customer-centricity results in:
increased organizational barriers to sharing and communicating
higher complexity-related costs and losses of economies of scale
higher marketing and coordinating (i.e., managing interdependent activities across internal units, suppliers, and customers) costs
Is being customer-centric profitable? Continue reading
We’ve all heard the Gallup stat: 68.5% of employees are not engaged at work. That sounds bad. But is it? Does being engaged at work actually matter when it comes to performance?
A new study by Yale University’s Khwaja and Yang found that employee engagement does in fact make a difference when it comes to sales.
What engagement is
Employee engagement is considered a catch-all term that refers to an employee’s passion for and commitment to the job. In general, there are three main factors to engagement:
Dedication: feeling enthusiastic and pride towards your work
Vigor: feeling invested in your work and persisting during challenges
Absorption: being engrossed in your work
Levels of engagement differ between employees (i.e., how engaged they feel at their jobs in general) as well as day-to-day within an employee. Continue reading
A recent Harvard Business Review article by Professor Kumar and colleagues makes a bold claim: A sales rep’s past performance doesn’t predict his or her future profitability.
What they argue that you should be using instead to assess the profitability of your sales team is salesperson future value.
Salesperson future value (SFV)
Professor Kumar and colleagues define salesperson future value (SFV) as the net value of future revenue from a salesperson’s customers (i.e., the customer lifetime value (CLV) of the rep’s existing and prospective customers) after accounting for the costs of developing, motivating, and retaining the salesperson.
By examining seven years of data on approximately 500 salespeople and their customers in a Fortune 500 B2B software, hardware, and services firm, these researchers found that they were able to accurately predict SFV within a three-year horizon, as it becomes too difficult to predict customer behaviour beyond that point. Continue reading
The Harvard Business Review recently published a great article featuring research on the sales compensation that best motivates salespeople. I know how busy you are so I wrote this handy summary for you instead.
The best part? Designing a sales comp plan that maximizes your revenue doesn’t have to be complicated.
Caps on commissions. Research suggests capping commission, a standard feature of sales comp plans, decreases high performers’ motivation and effort. You’re basically telling your sales team: you’re making us too much money, you can stop now.
Racheting quotas. There’s a lot of disagreement about whether you should increase a sales rep’s annual quota if they exceeded it in the previous year, but doing so can upset high performers who may view this as unfair. Continue reading
Even in this era of inbound leads and social selling, the reports of cold calling’s death have been greatly exaggerated. The truth is that for the vast majority of companies, outbound prospecting is still a crucial part of their growth and revenue generation.
Luckily, The Bridge Group and the QuotaFactory have looked at the numbers on the state of outbound prospecting in their latest Outbound Index report.
Outbound prospecting KPIs
41 SDRs (sales development reps) from B2B technology companies were surveyed about their prospecting activities in the second quarter of 2014. This included more than 14,000 prospect conversations and over $51M in new pipeline generated, with the average deal size ranging from $80,000-150,000. Continue reading
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One of my favourite products doesn’t do customer support very well. It takes days to get a response, and it’s typically not a good one. The contact section of their websitehas a phone number to call for sales, but a form to fill out for support. What does that say to me? That they care more about new business than existing customers. I believe if the customer support – now commonly referred to as customer success – team was managed by the sales leaders this wouldn’t be the case. Continue reading
We’re well into the journey of our first sales reps at Ideal Candidate, and we’re doing our best to document the process. Previously, I’ve written about how we knew we needed to hire sales reps in the first place and then the process of how we hired them by using our own system.
In this post, I focus on the logistics we put into place to help make our sales reps successful. My goal was to have them ready to go from day one. It turns out we use a LOT of tools to make this happen (maybe too many?)
In my previous company, my first ever sales hire was given a headset, some Skype credit, a trade magazine, and a thumbs up. Continue reading
A few weeks ago, I wrote about a few indicators that a startup can use to determine if they’re ready to begin hiring salespeople. That was the approach that we took at Ideal Candidate in deciding that we were ready to hire our first sales reps.
This is a follow up as we did indeed hire two sales reps and they both started January 5th. How did we find them? We had the opportunity to eat our own dog food and use Ideal Candidate. It was fun to see how well our product works, but equally as fun to see first hand how much room for improvement there is. Continue reading
I’ll admit, I’m not used to not having a booth at a trade show. At my last company, we’d typically have at least a 10’x10’ booth where we’d give away t-shirts and scan badges for leads.
We just launched Ideal Candidate live to the world about 5 months ago. Although I’d love to have a booth at Dreamforce, it’s just not cost effective (i.e., it’s the most expensive trade show I’ve seen for booth space) at our current stage.
We have a simple mission right now. We’re looking for tech companies that have a growing sales team. They’re our ideal customers. Continue reading
Lately, I’ve been seeing a trend towards a hybrid sales role where an “inside” sales rep goes out to visit customers. Is this a valuable way for sales reps to spend their time? I say yes, but you have to put some metrics around when they go into the field and who they’re visiting.
Let’s look at some reasoning when trying to decide if your inside sales reps should be visiting customers.
The traditional model
In general, an inside sales team is responsible for smaller accounts and as the accounts grows, a field sales rep gets involved who goes and visits the customer. Continue reading
I recently met with an entrepreneur who had an idea for a product that he wanted some feedback on. After hearing about his project I did a Google search and, sure enough, found a very similar product already available.
The look on his face told me that he was not happy to learn about this new competition. I had the opposite reaction, I was happy to find them.
Competition is a great thing to have. You need someone to beat. Monday night football would be boring if there was only one team in the NFL. You should want to destroy your competition. Continue reading
You have a tech startup and people are finally buying your product. Amazing. The pressure is now on to start growing sales. Initially, and in many cases, sales are conducted exclusively by the founders. But it’s time to grow and scale. It’s way too early (and expensive) to hire a VP of Sales or even a Sales Manager. So it’s time to
hire those first sales reps.
Hiring the right salespeople is a combination of a lot of factors but from my past mistakes I can tell you the type of person not to hire: the experienced salesperson from a big tech company. Continue reading
Sales is a game of numbers: Quotas. Pipeline generation. Number of phone calls placed. Number of demos played. The list goes on. Accurate data collection is crucial for sales, but it shouldn’t stop there.
The ability to make data-based decisions is invaluable for the rest of the organization as well. In fact, it’s how Google runs its entire organization. In this era of big data, the new ABC(D) of sales is: Always Be Collecting Data.
Based on two fantastic Harvard Business Review articles by Eric Anderson and Duncan Simester and Thomas H. Davenport, here’s how to do it:
1. Continue reading
According to Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, “Trust is the conduit for influence…Having the best idea is worth nothing if people don’t trust you.” Trust is central to developing and maintaining relationships, but trust can be difficult to establish because it involves someone taking a risk on you and vice versa.
As a salesperson, earning the trust of your customers is crucial. Unfortunately, research conducted by best-selling author Daniel Pink reveals that people still tend to be suspicious of salespeople, describing sales with adjectives such as dishonest, sleazy, and yuck.
So how can you overcome these negative perceptions and genuinely establish trust? Continue reading
Everyone likes a deal. When I buy something I always ask for a better price than the list price. Well, okay, not everything – I don’t ask the grocery store checkout person for a better price.
But, grocery stores still do understand that people love discounts, it’s clear by the massive amount of coupon campaigns going on. There are television shows on discounting, and haggling for better prices is an expected part of the shopping process in some cultures.
As a sales rep or sales manager, should you negotiate or discount to win business? In most industries the answer is yes. Continue reading
Source: The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don’t, Book by Nate Silver
According to recent data from Indeed.com, the position of sales rep has the fourth highest number of job listings. It’s clear that companies need sales people. With the widespread adoption of automated applicant-tracking systems, applying for job listings is easier than ever. This ease and convenience often means a single job posting can attract hundreds, if not thousands, of job applicants.
What can a person who’s hiring do to cut through the resume noise?
A recent survey by CareerBuilder found that 21% of employers claimed that “not knowing enough about the job candidates” was the cause of making a bad hire
. Continue reading