It’s 2015 So I Don’t Need Sales Reps, Right? Yeah….Not So Much

Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 1.56.22 PM Hello World!! My inaugural post was sparked by the provoking post circulating around the sales community – Brian de Haaff’s “Why This CEO Will Never Hire Another Salesperson”. My primary goal is not to argue whether I agree with his premise (I Don’t – and Mark Cranney’s seminal and timeless post on – Why SaaS Products Don’t Sell Themselves – explains it better than I could) but to demonstrate that this behavior can be changed (and easily!) instead of arguing that sales reps by their nature (or incentive package) add negative value.

Cloud-Based-Lead-Management-SoftwareThere is a saying in sales – “The Better Your Pipeline…..The Better Your Pipeline” (or similarly worded axioms). This means that when you have significant and legitimate Opportunities in your pipeline, you nix all the questionable deals you stuffed in there for your manager or that you were just praying would close.

So what if you could legitimately have 5-10x as many conversations with your customers and prospects. Wouldn’t that significantly shift your behavior (now that your pipeline would presumably be filled with a tremendous amount of quality Opportunities)? If so, then it isn’t just that Reps aren’t wired to have meaningful conversations or that their incentives are misaligned. Some specific examples:

  1. salespusherMany Reps (nobody reading this post of course!) push product when a prospect isn’t ready to purchase or when there isn’t a solution fit. This is often done because their pipeline likely isn’t large enough to support their quota attainment goals
  2. Relationships are built over time and through meaningful collaboration.   It’s hard to build a trusted relationship if you aren’t even at least periodically talking to your prospects. But what if you could actually reach prospects by phone fairly consistently (and hopefully supplement with emails that get read) and build trust over time through valued exchange and feedback, on the prospect’s timeline.
  3. Who brings more market knowledge to the table – the person who struggles to have just 10-15 conversations per week or the one that has 75-100? Simply by having more interactions you become more valuable in every subsequent conversation because you’ll inevitably continue to learn more about your prospects & customers – you can impart more best practices, more anecdotes, more successful use cases and will be more valuable in helping them with other partners or tools in your ecosystem that you have developed expertise in through so many meaningful conversations
  4. Because you’re now spread so thin, but with real & valuable interactions, you don’t have the time to focus on folks that don’t see value in your knowledge or your product. So hassling unqualified prospects hoping you can miraculously demonstrate some value goes away and now you can efficiently move on to the next prospect because you can only afford to spend your cycles efficiently – with the most interested folks.

Even with the right tools, gravitating to the above isn’t a guarantee and there will always be Reps that may not have their customers best interests as their primary concern, but I can honestly say that I’ve seen countless customers of ours (and our internal sales folks) make a solid shift away from being just a tactical Sales Rep, and into being a partner and advocate for their prospects and customers.

kicksaasOne final point I can’t help but mention. De Haaff’s go-to-market and sales model presumes you are getting all of your business through Inbound (or self service and/or freemium). Here in the Valley you constantly hear the rally cry of “Build a great product and they will come” but it seems that 99%+ of all companies eventually outgrow that and discover they can’t feed their pipeline with Inbound only. Heard of Hubspot, Marketo, BrightEdge? – All great companies that are leaders in Content Marketing and SEO – last time I looked at their Careers page they were all hiring for outbound sales reps.

By Jonti McLaren, VP Business Development, ConnectAndSell (email: jonti.mclaren@connectandsell.com)

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