Have you seen the video built around David Foster Wallace's 2005 This is Water commencement address? It has been making the rounds and is currently at 4.5M views (nearly .3% of Gangnam Style fame).
I was talking with a group of BDRs the other day and, for some reason, I kept thinking back to the video.
The BDRs were sharing frustrations with the day-to-day challenges of their role. The list won't surprise you:
- Frequent rejection
- Bogus contact info
- Calling in on customers because someone didn't update Salesforce.com
- Finally getting a live phone connect only to be told "Nope. Not interested."
- Great prospects who go dark
But the reality is - those challenges aren’t getting in the way of selling. They are selling.
Take a look at the video below.
Although DFW talks about the petty frustrations of daily life (traffic jams, crowded stores & long checkout lines), it makes me think about the routine frustrations of selling (like the short list above).
(NOTE: I am hoping to start a discussion around this issue, not offer legal advice)
At least once a month, I have a conversation with a sales leader who is trying to understand the exempt v non-exempt status of their inside sales teams. I always tell them two things:
- There is logic and then there is the law – and in this case they are mutually exclusive
- This is a decision you have to make internally in partnership with HR and legal counsel
If you are not aware of this ridiculous and outdated standard let me share some background. The question deals with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act in conjunction (and often conflict) with state labor laws.
Legal opinions - a Sales Manager's best friend!
The issue boils down to time-tracking and payment for overtime. In short, nonexempt employees are entitled to overtime pay. Exempt employees are not.
Here's an explanation from Hopkins & Carley, a Silicon Valley legal firm
If your Outbound Prospectors target 1000 accounts this quarter, how many opportunities will they put into your Sales organization's pipeline?
Ask me that questions three months ago and I would have said, "It depends." Today, I'm confident with a response of 32.
Last December, Pete Gracey from AG Salesworks approached me with a crazy idea. His pitch was roughly, I have 35+ BDRs prospecting for three dozen technologies and generating mountains of Salesforce.com data. Any interest in digging into it and seeing what we find?
My reply: Let's do this.
So after 3 months of whiteboarding, triple-checking of arithmetic, a few shouting matches, and 3.1 gallons of coffee - Pete & I are ready to release the results.
The other day, I was talking to a friend who leads a team of sales development reps (outbound prospectors).
She was mentioning how tight the market is for reps with 1-2 years of experience. To paraphrase her predicament:
I need reps who are senior enough that they can & will do the job. But who are junior enough to unlearn bad habits before they calcify.
I asked, “Have you looked at hiring recent grads?” As it just so happens, we are in the thick of career fair season for many colleges & universities.
She asked if I had any tips. My reply: nope.
So over the last few days I’ve been giving it some thought and wanted to share what I’ve come up with.
Hiring Recent Grads: what doesn’t work
First, the bad. Much of our traditional questions, at least as they relate to selling, are ineffective. “Tell me about a time you pitched an idea to a peer group” is very different from “tell me about the last time you booked a meeting from an outbound call.” [Side note: here’s a great audio interview with Kevin Gaither on his philosophy for interviewing.]
Last week, I shared the first part in our series on trendspotting thus far in 2013. This week, Janet, Trish (yours truly), and Patrice share our perspectives on:
~60 days in, what's everyone seeing that is changing in 2013?
The 3, 5, 7-or-more Legged Buying Team
Whether nostalgia or fact, selling used to be a lot simpler. Continuing the trend from 2012, buyers' decision making processes are more and more complicated.
Today, there is nearly never a single decision maker. Not only do we have to convince the budget owner (we’ll save you money, time, hassle, etc.), but we must also prove our benefit the end user (day-in the-life use cases), IT (this will fit within your environment, straightforward implementation, etc.), and finance (not only does this have a positive ROI, but it is more important than competing projects).
The key to generating widespread support within an organization is being able to have effective selling conversations with a broader audience. For Sales Leaders, this means your reps now need to have the tools, training and process in place to build & muster widespread support.
On one of our internal chatter groups, a member of The Bridge Group team posed this question:
45 days in, what's everyone seeing that is changing & improving in 2013?
I thought it would be interesting to share the responses from our team members (folks not often featured on this blog). Just a fun and hopefully thought provoking piece.
Note: we broke the responses into two parts, this is the first in the series.
Voicemails are being… returned!
We all know our buyers receive dozens of sales voicemails on a daily basis. But something old has become new again: buyers returning some of those voicemails.
I’ve noticed that the voicemails that are inspiring action have the following in common: they avoid coming across as ‘white noise,’ they leave out the product puffery, and they are short and to the point. Think: sound bites that inspire.
When building messaging, most Reps will ask themselves, “What’s the big challenge my buyer is facing?” But the best Reps take it one step further. They ask, “Why aren’t they addressing it already? Where/how is their current thinking wrong or off point?”
I was digging through Evernote earlier this week and stumbled across a file titled: Killer DF12 Sessions for Sales.
I vaguely remember creating it after Dreamforce 2012 and decided to take a look at a few of the videos I'd clipped. I’m so glad I did!
Out of the dozens of sales cloud sessions now on youtube, I want to share 3 quick clips that deliver three major ideas.
#1 - Coach to Move the Needle
Mark Roberge, HubSpot’s VP of Sales, shares a bit about how he develops leaders and reps in his 250 person sales org.
To set up the clip, Mark is talking about his team of 20 (mostly 1st-time Managers). He lays out the case that one thing newly promoted Sales Managers tend to get wrong is trying to coach too many things at once.
The big takeaway for me is that rep development doesn’t happen by serendipity. Many sales organizations have a coaching 'strategy' in place, but as the saying goes, culture eats strategy for breakfast.
I'm sure you've noticed that over the last 6 weeks LinkedIn has been rolling out new profiles for all users.
In light of the major refresh, I thought it a great time to address the most frequently asked question I hear on Social Prospecting™:
What separates the most effective Sales Reps on LinkedIn from the rest?
So together with Lynn Hidy from UpYourTelesales, we set out to deliver an answer. We found that that the best social prospectors:
- Gear their profiles towards their buyers, their market & the value they bring
- Make growing their LinkedIn network a priority
- Are plugged into the LinkedIn Groups where their prospects participate
- Are just plain better at searching LinkedIn
We put our thoughts together into an ebook: The Fundamentals of LinkedIn for Sales Reps. Here's a quick preview:
I saw this question on LinkedIn the other day:
I was immediately reminded of something I saw from Chris Corcoran, Cofounder of memoryBlue. Chris was kind enough to let me repost the following:
Lead Generation to Inside Sales – Are You Worth The Risk?
Many high tech salespeople earn their stripes in lead generation for the complex sale. It’s a low risk way for companies to test and train sales professionals without allowing inexperienced reps to blow deals. However, most lead gen reps don’t view the role as the zenith of their professional sales career; instead they have their sights set on the next rung of the ladder. Contrast that with companies, and more specifically sales managers, who are hesitant to hire someone for a closing position unless the sales professional has experience closing deals.
Fair or unfair, you’ll have to win the chicken or the egg argument—how am I supposed to get closing experience unless someone gives me an opportunity to get closing experience—because managers may see you as a project that they don’t need on their already overcrowded plate.
In order to win this debate, you’ll need to prove that you’re a sales professional worth betting on.
Record Your Calls.
Peyton Manning is considered one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of football. The New York Times wrote an article “Peyton Manning’s Case for Being the Best Ever” detailing how he out-prepares the competition each week and chronicles his legendary film study habits.
In order to outpace the pack, invest time each week breaking down recordings of your prospecting calls. Pick one or two calls each week and complete a detailed call evaluation where you dissect the call.
As we wind down 2012, I want to share a quick snippet from the single best article I read this year on what it means to be a Sales Manager.
Chris Snell, Inside Sales Manager at Care.com, wrote:
My reps time is really valuable to them, and it has to be even more valuable to me. Invites to internal meetings, issues of customer service that they’re not equipped to handle, and requests from colleagues that take them away from their sales efforts – all of these things are distractions, and it’s really my job to keep my reps free from them.
You’re in sales, you understand the necessity of hitting your goals, you know that any time off of the phone building relationships and prospecting affects you financially.
If I’m not able to help keep my reps from these types of diversions, they’re going to feel it, and ultimately, so will the business. You see, I don’t really think of myself as a sales manager, but rather a guardian. I need to guard my team’s time so that they can focus on their goals.
So how do you best guard their time?
One idea is to give them a place to share exactly the issues that are taking them off the phone and away from prospects.
Salesforce.com COO George Hu shared how they did exactly that: they created a chatter group for ‘Airing of Grievances’.
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