This year at Dreamforce, our CEO Howard Brown served as moderator on two panels that brought together some of the most inspiring leaders working in sales today. Our first panel featured John Barrows (sales trainer to some of the world’s leading tech companies), Peter Gracey (co-Founder of AGSalesworks and CEO of Quota Factory) and Aaron Ross (author of Predictable Revenue). Our second session brought together more leading authorities on inside sales including Elay Cohen (author of SalesHood), Nancy Nardin (Founder of Smart Selling Tools) and Jorge Soto (Twitter). Both events were big successes. And while we’re certain that every member of the audience walked away with several actionable take-aways, we also learned quite a bit from these formative leaders. We want to pass along some of their wisdom.
We feel that these are the six of the most important takeaways from our panels.
Specialize Your Sales Team
As the old saying goes, a jack of all trades is a master of none. Aaron Ross discussed how important it is for sales teams to specialize reps according to roles. He revealed how much more productive a sales organization can be when there are dedicated prospectors, lead qualifiers and account executives. By segmenting reps into specific roles, it makes it so much easier to optimize each role and achieve the goal of creating predictable revenue.
Give Your Reps the Tools They Need to Win
According to Peter Gracey, if your sales team attrition is more than 10% per year, the problem is not the salespeople, it’s your company. If you’re not providing reps with the tools, resources and inbound leads they need to win, then sales reps shouldn’t be blamed for failing. Let’s face it, inside sales is only getting more and more competitive. Without the right resources even great salespeople are going to lose deals to less experienced reps armed with the right processes and technology.
Schedule “Power Hours”
John Barrows advocates that one to two times a week reps should schedule what he calls “power hours.” According to John, a power hour consists of grabbing 2-3 of your colleagues, your lead lists, a conference room and a speaker phone. Then, he advocates that reps should stand up and make round-robin calls to see and hear first hand what is and isn’t working. This seems like a truly powerful way for reps to learn from each other and help each other grow as salespeople.
Make Curiosity a Primary Sales Value
SalesHood’s Elay Cohen challenged sales managers to inject the words “curiosity” and “discovery” into their organization’s sales values. Managers should nurture curiosity in their reps, training them to discover more about their prospects’ businesses. The more a rep knows about their customers’ business the better job they can do of helping those prospects succeed. After all, at the end of the day, helping customers succeed should be the primary job of any salesperson.
Use Twitter to Discover New Customers and Brand Advocates
Jorge Soto, who manages an inside sales team over at Twitter, mentioned that Twitter is a great tool for finding and scheduling meetings with new prospects at conventions (such as Dreamforce). Fellow panelist Elay Cohen added that he likes to use Twitter to see who is following competitors and gain visibility into the lives of decision makers at prospective companies. Cohen also stressed the importance of using Twitter to find people who are saying positive things about your company in order to transform them into brand advocates or even referral partners as quickly as possible.
Avoid “Left-Hand Turns”
Nancy Nardin of Smart Selling Tools has written a great blog post about the fact that UPS allegedly saved valuable resources by simply having their drivers avoid making left-hand turns. In our session, she mentioned that salespeople should also eliminate their figurative “left-hand turns,” which is to say manual processes that hinder productivity. As Nardin mentioned during the panel, one of the best ways to maximize reps’ productivity is to deploy technology that automates manual sales processes. The result is that salespeople will have more time to actually talk to prospects, build rapport and move deals forward.
Special thanks to all of our fantastic panelists for helping to make both sessions successes!