I recently read a fictionalized letter of resignation from a SVP, Sales (to a CEO) over on the Sales Benchmark Index blog. It is worth a full read, but here is a quick excerpt:
The reasons for my departure are as follows:
The revenue goal you have set for me is not based in reality. It is unfair to set my goals based some high level Gartner numbers. For three years, I have submitted a proposal to set the number correctly and it has been rejected. Give the new guy a chance.
You have 16 items on my priority list. No one can do 16 things well. Each of these has been labeled mission critical. As a result, I have become a bad husband and father. Don’t ruin another man’s life. Not all opportunities are created equal. Pick a few things.
While entertaining, and in many instances probably quite true, it got me thinking. This head of sales had his point of view. But there are two sides to every coin, are there not?
What would a CEO response look like?
So here goes a (tongue-in-cheek) attempt at a reply:
I accept your letter of resignation as VP, WW Sales and appreciate the time you took to detail your reasons for departure. In the same vein, I thought I’d share some feedback on your performance.
I understand the revenue goal we set was a stretch. We decided to base it on historical performance, market potential and corporate goals. The numbers you proposed always seemed to ensure the goal of achieving your bonus – rather than our Board’s satisfaction with overall company performance. Also, I’ll make sure to let Gartner know that they should reach out to you for insights on properly sizing our market.
I consider myself a fairly traditional Sales Manager – in that I generally don’t think “new” equates to “better.”
In terms of Sales Territories, I've always believed in the need for defined territories. My reasoning being that they create focus and accountability. (That and the fact that they're a hedge against most in-fighting between reps).
But the times they are a’ changing and so is my thinking.
Although I’ve been dubbed the “Godmother of the Outbound Mafia” (thanks to Craig Rosenberg for the title), I do recognize that the ripple effects from inbound marketing and social prospecting need to be addressed.
Equitable territories are as simple as Rubik's cube.
Territories can be carved up based on potential, but not on interest. Market dynamics don't respect the neat lines we’ve drawn on a map. Although Marketing would love to ensure even lead distribution - it just doesn’t happen.
Rather than building in complexity to compensate for unfairness, I'm seeing companies begin to move away from traditional (line in the sand) sales territories.
I want to share 3 examples of companies that have rethought conventional wisdom.
I've interviewed hundreds of inside sales candidates over the years. I’d like to think that I’ve developed a proven process for making the most of a round one interview.
I have been working and reworking a short outline that I picked up from Trish roughly 6 years ago.
Earlier this month, I put it to the ultimate test.
From Sales Leader to Parent/Coach
My daughter (not in sales) asked me for help preparing for a very important interview. She is getting her Masters at NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service studying health policy and management. The interview was for a position at Ernst & Young.
Panicked, I wondered if my trusty outline would translate. (Note: I know nothing about this field) Yet, realizing how important this opportunity was to my daughter, I wanted to design a mock interview that would be challenging and, most importantly, help her prepare.
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.
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