Too often, sales teams and successful reps are shrouded in an air of mystery. Many can’t tell you exactly how they do what they do. Nowadays, they do it behind a screen, which limits the potential for apprenticeship, immersive learning and modeling. It offers little data beyond outcomes for managers attempting to dissect what’s really working.
So, what is the secret sauce of a sales rockstar? While there isn’t a single end-all-be-all ingredient, I’ve unlocked some tricks of the trade for reps looking to rise to the next level, tips for sales enablement and for trainers to grow their teams, and more.
1. Unearth the Voice of the Customer
Stop resisting and let artificial intelligence fix an age-old problem: the lack of input into a CRM. Your teams need to better understand the voice of the customer and actually apply learnings from prospect-facing calls.
Currently, the only way to do that is through an updated CRM. Teams use it as the proxy to evaluate the health of an opportunity. However, when fewer than 5 percent of calls make it into that database, how do you know what’s happening between reps and prospects? Where a rep is missing the mark or failing to grasp what customers actually want from you?
Reps are putting in a really loose set of notes to satisfy the requirement of inputting data and not truly representing their conversation or opportunity. That means you don’t have the full story, and if you’re not getting the full picture, you’re guessing.
I don’t care what you use to record your calls — just do it. Once those calls are recorded, make sure you have AI in place to take key moments from conversations and automatically log the info into your preferred CRM. You’ll free up reps’ time to research, train and conduct more prospect-facing conversations. Additionally, you’ll have a true understanding of the deal.
2. Measure It to Improve It, Track It to Disseminate It
Sales teams already deploy monitoring tools like one-to-ones for training, strict requirements for logging info in CRMs (which may fall on deaf ears as we’ve discussed), and taking notes from calls, usually through recording.
Where sales will find real success is in taking the next step: finding a way to capture what’s working during those business conversations, and disseminating that tribal knowledge to the rest of the group.
The best and fastest-growing companies in the world are the ones that identify what top salespeople are doing and share that information across the company. Doing so gives underperformers, laggards and new hires an opportunity to learn best practices.
It’s not about creating a drone or clone. It’s about delivering the knowledge veterans have obtained.
3. Create a Culture of Sharing
Let me tell you a story: In the early days of my previous job, we focused on staffing and getting product to market, but didn’t really focus on the buyer. We had a roundtable in the war room so we could uncover that vital information, which included our head of sales, CEO, VP of product, business development representatives and a few sales reps.
Embarrassing but true, at one point, one of our BDRs said, “We do really well with companies that have two names. Like, the name is two words stitched together.”
Honestly, I lost it because I thought it was silly, but what we soon realized was, he meant we performed well with Software as a Service companies, which at the time often had two names mashed together.
Our ideal customer profile (ICP) bull’s-eye was SaaS, specifically venture-backed SaaS. This guy, six months out of college, identified who we were — and should be — selling to, because he was collecting information and making sense of it.
Why does this matter? It’s indicative of team members having aha moments and real revelations but only sharing the info when a roundtable was called. Likely, this meant that he knew about this for a while and the person sitting next to him had no idea and couldn’t benefit from the knowledge his peer obtained. Establishing a culture of sharing will raise everyone to the next level.
4. Cultivate a Genuine Desire to Help Your Customers
Remember the guy in my example above? He had a real desire to understand our customers. His genuine, earnest curiosity helped us narrow down on our ICP. I’m not talking about just their pain points, but a whole range of things that made life hard for them.
If you have that genuine desire to help — not to win — you earn the right to sell. A quick way to do this is replacing seller steps with buyer stages. Think Bezos and Amazon leading the charge with customer obsession.
Speak this mantra: If I remove my needs and my company, and the only thing I care about is helping this customer succeed, then I’m behaving in a customer-centric way.
Consider how often you listen for the customer’s pain point and launch into an assault about how you can fix it. Usually, any time sales reps ask a question, it’s to hunt for a customer’s weakness that can be exploited later in a conversation.
Everything a customer reveals, reps write down in order to win a deal later. That is not the right way to approach the conversation. Reps need to develop a genuine desire to make the customer more successful.
Help your customers accomplish their missions, and you inevitably will make more money and win more deals. If you aren’t finding success with this method, then it probably means you have not subscribed to being customer-obsessed.
5. Manage Rookies Leading Rookies
I have another real-life anecdote I want to share: In a previous role, I found myself in a classic venture-backed, hyper-growth scenario that resulted in rookies managing and leading rookies. You know, when first-time reps come out of college and do BDR for a few months, then they become an account exec and within a year want to move up to midmarket? That’s the situation I’m talking about.
If the top layer of reps become managers, that means about 50 percent of the sales team has one year of experience or less. That’s great for their own growth, but how do they continue to learn or train the new class of reps just hired?
To fight this issue, I decided to implement a platform that recorded calls, automatically input data into our CRM, allowed me to curate playlists of top-performing reps, create personalized training, and learn the voice of the customer by pulling out key moments in conversations. The results?
- I shaved a quarter of ramp time. It used to take seven months to get new hires or poor performers to the average productivity of a veteran. I shaved three months of ramp time of 15 people, which equates to 45 months of quota attainment for the company. That’s a 25 percent lift.
- The 15 people I promoted (that would normally take seven months to ramp), were ready in four. That means there were three extra months of productivity. Instead of the normal five months of productivity, we got eight months from each person. What’s more, we didn’t have to pay extra or get pipeline for them.
Creating a culture of sharing, becoming customer-obsessed and combating hyper-growth scenarios where rookies are left to lead other rookies to the promised land are just the tip of the iceberg. If you apply the tips above, you’ll see some serious positive impact to your bottom line.