Late last year, Steve Richard and I had an idea for new research. This would be the third collaboration between The Bridge Group and VorsightBP (after Sales Speaks and Mythbusting Millennials).
Our intent was to survey sales reps, front-line managers, and directors to understand the current state of sales management. By asking similar questions and capturing the variations between their perspectives, we knew there was a story to be told.
As a measuring stick, we decided to include a Net Promoter Score question in the individual sales rep variant.
What we found shocked us.
Finding #1: Our sales reps are not happy.
In terms of favorability, the NPS for our profession is somewhere between the Airlines and the Credit Card companies. (Details within the ebook.)
Every so often, someone I don't know will message me on LinkedIn asking for advice on interviewing for a sales position.
The questions are generally ‘What should I expect?’ ‘What might they ask?’ ‘What are they looking to hear?’ Much less frequently, they’ll ask ‘What can I do to stand out?’
Over the past year or so I've been working and reworking a response to that last one. I thought I'd share it here and get the community's feedback. Here goes:
A Sales Interview is a Sales Call
1) You’re an A-player? Show it.
When it comes time to interview, everyone is a Top 10% sales rep. Short of seeing your W2, the hiring manager has no way to confirm. Don't just tell them how great you are, show them. Are you at the top of a leaderboard, a whiteboard, big screen, or dashboard in your CRM? Take your phone and grab a photo. Won an award? Take a photo of that, too.
We are neck deep writing the 2014 edition of our BDR/SDR metrics and compensation report. This year we had 200+ valid responses and roughly 160 of those shared compensation data. A huge thank you to all who participated!
Since 2007, we've reported BDR compensation as a national average. Every year, you've asked for more specifics (how about our region, our price point, our hiring profile, etc.).
Well, I finally have something to share.
This year, we isolated 6 variables that impact compensation. The result is our new BDR Compensation Calculator. See a sample 'output' below.
My friend and sales trainer extraordinaire, John Barrows, has a great line:
There are over 4000 Colleges and Universities in the US. You can take Sales courses in fewer than 100. You can major in Sales in just 15.
Wow. There’s an obvious problem here.
Companies need a pipeline of sales candidates; while many Universities are producing graduates who’ve never seen the word ‘sales’ on the curriculum. Full disclosure: my degree in 19th century Russian literature left me unprepared for Day 1 at my first sales job.
Moving towards a solution
I recently met David McFarlane with the Entrepreneurship Center at UMass Boston. David has 25+ years in B2B with time as VP, Alliances, COO and most recently co-founder and CEO. He now serves as Director and Entrepreneur in Residence for the EC.
We had a good chat about ‘the state of sales education’ and David shared two ways that UMass Boston is addressing the problem.
Better, faster, cheaper – you can only have two.
I’ve decided to touch a third rail of the current selling spirit: the ‘double tap’ -- the process of leaving a voicemail immediately followed by an email.
I’m a little afraid of getting flamed on this one, but hey, what the heck.
Let me give you the scenario.
A sales rep is prospecting you and actually picks up the phone to reach out. Maybe you ignore them or maybe you’re away from your desk. They leave a voicemail, referencing that they’re also sending an email.
So, what happens next?
Scenario 1: In all likelihood, you check email before voicemail. Unless they’ve written a message that really grabs your attention, you delete it. You finally get around to checking your voicemail and delete that message without really listening to it. After all, based on their email, your impression is that you’re not interested.
Scenario 2: You get an email from your phone system notifying you of the new voicemail. You still read the (text) email first and then delete both as above.
Scenario 3: You listen to the voicemail first. Once again, unless it is compelling, you delete it. You notice the follow-up email and delete it as well.
If you have your finger on the pulse of Inside Sales, you know that breaking the ‘prospecting’ and ‘closing’ functions into two roles has crossed the chasm. Role specialization is here to stay.
One of the big benefits is that specialized teams are responsible for a very clear piece of the sales process. You can measure effectiveness, add or subtract headcount, and course correct as needed.
Sadly, it’s not all joy in Whoville.
I’m noticing a concerning trend. More and more often, when revenue goals are missed, companies look at their Sales Development teams and assume that is where the problem lies.
In some instances, it certainly is. But I’d hazard a guess that at least half the time, the problem lies further down the sales funnel – right at the feet of either the Sales Reps or, potentially, the sales process itself.
Continuing our annual tradition, I've rounded up the very best of our writing and thinking from the past 12 months. So with a big thank you to our readers, new and old, here's the best of what we shared in 2013.
Most Commented Articles
A couple of emails hit my inbox last week back-to-back.
The first was from Glassdoor, Best Places to Work 2014, announcing their 6th annual employee choice awards. The second was from Craig Ferrara of AG Salesworks, 7 Things I Want My Inside Sales Team To Know For 2014.
Now, I love Glassdoor. It's the best way to get the inside dish on the Pros and Cons of working at a given company. So I wondered, what if I grabbed a bunch of those reviews and compared them to Craig’s list?
Here is the process I used:
- Logged into Glassdoor and picked out the B2B tech companies from the Top 50
- Drilled into Sales reviews only (inside, AEs, SDRs, etc.)
- Exported the most recent 100 reviews
I got busy parsing and found something pretty interesting.
Last week, I was challenged to write about 'how I work.' Inspired by LifeHacker, Anthony Iannarino moved the idea into the sales field.
The progression has gone: Anthony, Charlie Green, Dave Brock, Dave Stein, Jill Konrath, to me.
Here's the inside scoop on my work life:
Location: Fort Meadow Lake, Hudson, Massachusetts
Current devices: Dell Inspiron, Samsung Galaxy 4, iPad 2
Apps/software/tools can’t I live without?
I LOVE technology get ready!
Must Haves for Work – use them all day, every day:
LinkedIn (feel free to join our Inside Sales Expert group!)
TimeTrade (why anyone would set meetings any other way is beyond me)
I was speaking with a prospect the other day and the subject of recruiting women in sales came up. This company is extremely impressive: high-growth, exciting market, great location, amazing sales culture - the works.
However, they hadn’t made much progress in balancing the gender of their sales force. In fact, their current ratio was roughly 7:1 (male to female).
This blew me away as this company had so much going for them. If they were struggling to find women for their sales organization, what does that mean for our industry?
So I did some research and came up with a few ideas.
Recruiting sales women
- Make job descriptions gender neutral
Watch your pronouns, "AE isn’t afraid to have his performance measured against others" or “Candidate must take ownership of his territory.”
- Lay off the war words
Hunt, kill, crush – these words tend not to appeal to female candidates. “The VP Sales is looking for other sales animals.” (Some might argue that ‘ninja’ & ‘rockstar’ are male-centric too.)
- Balance the 'perks'
Kegerators-on-demand, competitive darts, flag football, etc. might not be balanced benefits. Compare that to the great job Forrester does here:
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