Category: Sales Management


7 Steps to Establish a Successful Sales Mentorship Program

I will always be a believer in sales mentorship programs. Early in my career, the hands-on training I received from my mentors taught me more than any other experience. I can remember deals at every company I’ve worked for that I simply wouldn’t have closed without help. Applying these learnings to subsequent deals enabled me to win them on my own — and in a much smaller time frame. Eventually, I took those learnings and taught them to sales reps I was mentoring.

As I’ve seen firsthand, mentorship programs accelerate the learning and promotion processes on a sales team. In fact, studies show that mentorship programs lead to increased salaries, quicker time to promotion, and higher retention rates.

But what’s in it for the mentor?

Sales Mentoring: What’s in It for You (the Mentor)?

Many top sales organizations use mentorship programs to both ramp new salespeople and groom senior reps for leadership roles. At the same time, it’s a lot of work for the mentor who could be spending their efforts closing new business. 

Sales mentors must keep in mind the long-term benefits to the organization, including: 

Knowledge and Skill Development

The best mentors are committed to the organization and want to give back to junior reps by sharpening their skills through training and also being a resource to put context behind each sales interaction as the reps gain experience.

The obvious benefit of a mentorship program, then, is that the organization is actively investing in the development of the sales team, which benefits the bottom line. As a mentor, you stand to benefit (in myriad ways) from working with an organization that is seeing the effects of this on the bottom line. 

But that’s a more indirect benefit of being a sales mentor. 

Another benefit is that, by honing the skills of a new team member, you get a refresher on the fundamentals of the role, which can serve to sharpen your knowledge and skills also. After all, according to the Roman philosopher Seneca, “While we teach, we learn.” In other words, the process of explaining something to someone else increases your competency as well.

Increasing Engagement

Instituting a mentorship program in your company increases employee engagement, especially if implemented when the employee is first onboarding with your organization. Great training sets the relationship off right.

In fact, individuals with mentors tend to excel in companies faster than employees without mentors, and the majority of mentors report their job as being more meaningful (Brad Johnson). As a result, both mentor and mentee become more engaged.

Improved Morale

Everyone knows that sales is challenging, particularly when prospect after prospect is saying “no.” This can have a negative impact on morale, which in turn feeds into a nasty cycle because sales teams with low morale do not perform as well. 

Sales mentorship gives both mentor and mentee the opportunity to break away from it for a little while and focus on what needs to be done to make it go right. 

Leadership Development

Aside from being more engaged with the organization, mentorship provides mentors with the ability to develop leadership skills in the workplace, which are important in sales, particularly when it comes to motivating team members to accomplish more. 

It takes preparation for an organization and the mentors within it to reap the benefits described above. Unfortunately, many well-intentioned mentorship programs lack proper strategies and planning.

You can avoid the pitfalls by following these steps to establish a successful sales mentorship in your organization.

1. Have a “kick-off” meeting.

Hold a face-to-face conversation between the mentor, mentee, and the manager that oversees the team. The manager should introduce some questions to get the two employees talking about the program.

  • “Where do you see yourself in two years? 10 years?”
  • “Do you have a plan to get there?”
  • “How do you learn best?” (Trial and error, visual, reading, just-in-time learning, etc.)
  • “What day and time do you prefer to meet each week?”
  • “What’s your favorite coffee shop or local restaurant for walk and chats?”

These questions enable the mentor and mentee to establish goals to work toward and find a mutually beneficial discussion style.

2. Clearly define roles and responsibilities for mentor and mentee.

“What’s in it for me?” This answer needs to be clearly defined in the vetting process for pairing two reps together. If you match people arbitrarily, the relationship won’t help either one. It’s crucial to have the manager involved in pairing the two employees. A new rep that is having trouble with the team’s CRM and a senior rep who wants to pursue a career in sales ops would be one perfect scenario.

I am also a big fan of splitting the first few commission checks between the mentor and mentee. Most likely the new rep is on some type of ramp, and witnessing a deal from first touch to close will take a lot of energy. If you don’t reward the senior rep financially, they tend to act more like a coach than a player, which leads to a slower deal time and less involvement in the negotiation (an area in which the new rep has the most to learn). The closing cadence takes a lot of practice, and the more exposure the junior rep receives to wins and losses, the more accurately they will be able to diagnose deals down the road.

3. Build a playbook.

Create a tangible playbook you can print out and stick to a calendar. Just like a good workout guide, having measurable, regularly spaced milestones leads to faster progress. It’s easy for reps to get tied up with customers, but a weekly face-to-face should take place regardless of how busy either rep is.

The playbook should be assembled by the manager overseeing the program with the support and feedback of the first few participants. This is a work in progress but should become a fixed asset after the first few iterations.

A successful playbook includes a checklist that builds skills in the order that reps will need them. Identify which skills are needed on day one versus day 90, and write your playbook to fit.

For example, if the sales role is strictly inbound, you might want to start with training on chat, your CRM, and the product. If the role is predominantly outbound, start with calling scripts, email templates, and competitive intelligence (as your reps will need to book appointments before product demos). The mentor can then join the first few meetings with customers to demonstrate how to run an initial discovery call.

In addition, don’t assume new salespeople will understand your acronyms and how to use the technology available. I once had to train one of my BDRs on Gmail, while another one needed help with WebEx. (Fortunately, these experiences taught me how to hire and keep great business development reps.)

4. Share best practices.

Sponsor a monthly lunch for all the mentors to show your appreciation for their help, as well as facilitate discussion about what is working and what’s not. Make sure there is a specific topic for each meeting. Ask mentors where their mentees are currently falling short in the sales process or which types of questions they’re hearing across the board.

Once the team identifies two to three common themes, focus on those for the month. You don’t want mentees to become overwhelmed.

These meetings also help identify areas that need helpful content from the sales enablement team, so future reps won’t need to look to their mentors for answers.

5. Plan an exit strategy.

New reps must “graduate” at some point, or they will never stop leaning on senior reps.

Depending on your sales cycle and the amount of coaching required, these weekly meetings should last a minimum of six to nine months. The time necessary to become fully independent varies for every organization, so use a presentation or quarterly business review.

At a QBR, for example, ask the new rep to showcase their business plan and learnings in front of their peers. Let the team ask questions after the presentation, which will make it relatively easy to tell if a newer rep is ready to step up and rely on their mentor less often. As an added benefit, this is a good opportunity for everyone to learn — not just the mentee.

6. Measure and quantify value.

Know your key metrics before you implement a mentorship program so it’s clear if the investment is paying off.

What to measure:

  • Activity (phone calls, emails, meetings)
  • Pipeline development (new opportunities created, proposals)
  • Revenue (deals closed, time to close, ACV)

You’ll also be able to see if mentees are making progress through milestones like the moment where the new rep goes from asking questions to answering them. These are hard to quantify, but easy to understand when you see them first hand.

Most reps tend to rely on “just-in-time learning,” also known as, “I have gotten a question for the first time, I’m going to hit my mute button and ask the salesperson sitting next to me.” If the program is working, there should be a point where the rookie rep can answer 99% of those on their own.

7. Showcase small victories.

The continued success of the program depends on continually highlighting its wins. For instance, ask an executive to tell the story of a great team accomplishment at an all hands meeting. You want your veteran reps to feel recognized by management. The new reps on your team should be excited to work with people capable of getting them ramped up quickly.

If you have an internal wiki, use it to recognize people. This provides a repository of the program that people can tie their name to. We use Tettra here at Drafted to keep the team updated on key wins and losses.

There is a compelling case for investing in a mentorship program for sales teams — but if mismanaged it will be a chore instead of a fun learning experience. At the end of the day, you want your reps to build relationships that will last their entire careers.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in February 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.


The 4 Components of a Winning Go-To-Market Framework

Learn how to map your goals for loyalty, product expansion, transformation, and new markets ahead of time, for a completely smooth go-to-market motion across your Marketing, Sales, and Account teams.

The post The 4 Components of a Winning Go-To-Market Framework appeared first on Sales Hacker.


The SDR & Sales KPIs That Show Your Company…

2020 has been the year where technology has risen to the forefront. Tech companies have skyrocketed their growth with remote-everything. The valuations are through the roof.

The post The SDR & Sales KPIs That Show Your Company is a Rocketship appeared first on Sales Hacker.


How to Build a Positive Sales Culture in 2021

How do you keep a positive sales culture while some teams are transitioning from yoga pants to work pants, while others aren’t? When you’ve dealt with so much this past year, how do you support your teams best for a successful 2021?

The post How to Build a Positive Sales Culture in 2021 appeared first on Sales Hacker.


How to Really Motivate Your Sales Team in 2021

We’ve rounded up an awesome panel of sales leaders who spend their time unlocking the secrets to sales team motivation. And yeah, they’ve come up with super cool incentive programs… but they also know that high-performing sales teams require more than that.

Join us to learn their secrets, and bring your toughest questions to the table about culture and motivation!

The post How to Really Motivate Your Sales Team in 2021 appeared first on Sales Hacker.


3 Best Practices for Building a World Class Sales…

Like anything in sales, building a world-class sales team is a process (and a challenging one, at that). Join Founder and CEO Brandon Bornancin to learn how to outsell your competition by building a team that stands out from the rest. 

The post 3 Best Practices for Building a World Class Sales Teams appeared first on Sales Hacker.


PODCAST 139: The Science of Becoming a Better Sales…


If you missed episode 137, check it out here: From Marketer to CEO: The Power of Brand as a Growth Amplifier with Jake Sorofman

Subscribe to the Sales Hacker Podcast

  • We’re on iTunes
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Show Agenda and Timestamps

  1. Show Introduction [00:09]
  2. Who is Luke Rogers and what is Instabase?[3:15]
  3. The keys to great leadership [18:24]
  4. A more scientific interview process [20:35]
  5. How to build a more diverse team [24:50]
  6. The role experience plays in evaluating job candidates [27:25]
  7. Who and what inspires Luke [30:06]
  8. Sam’s Corner [34:03]

Show Introduction [00:09]

Sam Jacobs: This week on the show, we’ve got Luke Rogers, the Vice President of Sales at Instabase. Luke has a really interesting life story. At 15, he began going to school part-time in Northern England in Manchester, so that he could run a technology consulting business that he had started.

Through that, he went to university where he studied AI and cybernetics, ultimately leading big teams in EMEA for AppDynamics. He now leads the sales function at a really promising and high-growing unicorn called Instabase.

Before we dive into it we want to thank our sponsors. The first is 6sense. Salespeople are often wasting time. They’re fumbling around with junk leads, just absolutely junk leads, static lists, these lists don’t change. They’re static and haphazardly reaching out to accounts that aren’t ready to close. The 6sense account engagement platform uncovers and analyzes buyer intent at scale, identifying prospects who are in market for your solution and providing salespeople like you with the insight to create highly relevant messaging, generate more opportunities, increase deal size, and get into opportunities before your confrontation. Learn how modern sales teams with deals, win deals now. Modern sales teams, winning deals using 6sense. Go to

I can tell you from personal experience, 6sense is a really, really cool and powerful suite of technology tools and also just a great company. And they’re doing really, really interesting and powerful things. It’s all about understanding when people are in market versus in funnel. Not get to them before they become a lead, get to them when they’re beginning to do their research, because most people make decisions about the vendor that they choose before they fill out the lead form. Often the lead form is way down in their process. And the first thing they’re doing is searching around on the internet for solutions and beginning to educate themselves, and 6sense can help you find those companies when they’re beginning to search for your solution and then get them right at the moment that they’re going to be most interested. Really cool stuff.

Our second sponsor is Outreach, the number one sales engagement platform. Outreach revolutionized is customer engagement by moving away from siloed conversations to a streamlined and customer-centric journey. Leveraging the next generation of artificial intelligence, the platform allows sales reps to deliver consistent, relevant and responsible communication for each prospect every single time, enabling personalization at scale previously. Unthinkable. Check them out

Now, without further ado, let’s listen in on my conversation with Luke Rogers.

Who is Luke Rogers and what is Instabase?[3:15]

Sam Jacobs: Hey everybody, it’s Sam Jacobs. Welcome to the Sales Hacker podcast. Today on the show we’ve got a really inspiring sales leader, Luke Rogers, who’s the VP of Sales at a really exciting company called Instabase. So let me give you his bio quickly. Having founded his first company at age 15, Luke Rogers, now VP: sales at Instabase, is determined to turn the world of technology upside down in more ways than one, a passionate believer that experiences is the least important quality when building an elite go-to-market team. The world of tech sales must become a more diverse place. He has dedicated his career to teaching sales as a science. His degree in artificial intelligence and cybernetics combined with over a decade of enterprise sales experience has equipped him with a rich technical and business skillset.

Prior to joining Instabase, Luke joined AppDynamics, which grew from a $100 million to a $3.7 billion sale to Cisco in just four years. Luke, welcome to the show.

Luke Rogers: It’s an absolute pleasure, Sam. Thank you for having me.

Sam Jacobs: We’re excited to have you. As you know, as a loyal listener, we start with your baseball card, an opportunity for you to tell us who and what Instabase is. So we know you’re Luke Rogers, we’re going to dive into your background and biography. You’re the VP of sales at Instabase. What is Instabase?

Luke Rogers: On your smartphone, you have an app store where you can find a dozen apps to have food delivered to your door, but there’s no such app store where a large enterprise, for example, a bank can find an app for income verification or an insurance company can find an app for processing claims. Every one of those apps is custom built from the ground up, and Instabase exists because we ask why? The vision for Instabase is to make computers work for people and to become the new operating system for the enterprise and for the internet.

What we enable is businesses to basically use a toolkit that is powered by very, very sophisticated, modular building blocks to build customizable apps for automating different parts of their business. So for example, a bank can build an app that can automatically verify customer income in a fraction of a second or an insurance company can build an app that can process insurance claims in seconds, which in the real world today, all of those tasks are done by human beings and endless, endless armies of data entry analysts. And it is just a really inefficient process that exists in a really significant way in the world and adds really no value. It’s just because documentation and those kinds of processes are underpinned by so much paper today. Instabase exists to give people that app store, to give organizations the ability to create those systems very quickly and to automate these really inefficient parts of their processes.

Sam Jacobs: Are you teaching enterprises a coding language? I would imagine that building some of these apps requires some technical expertise. How do you indoctrinate that?

Luke Rogers: We’re trying to abstract the technical expertise out and away from it as much as possible. So there already exists an app store or the Instabase Marketplace where these first-party apps, you can go online now, download an app for automatically processing bank statements or driving licenses or passports. And it requires zero technical skills whatsoever. It’s really a self-contained app. Now, if you want to create your new apps, rather than the process that exists today of having to write endless lines of code and assemble huge development teams, what we actually enable you to do is put what we call primitives, but you can liken them to Lego bricks. So you assemble these Lego bricks together to create these apps very quickly.

So one example is Bank of America under the SBA PPP loan program, we’re inundated with weeks and weeks and week’s worth of PPP loans to process that they just couldn’t garner the manpower to process. And in six days, Instabase was able to design and configure an app to process those SBA PPP loans. And we took the processing volume time down from 10,000 a day to 10,000 an hour, and they did that in six days and they built the app themselves with us.

Sam Jacobs: That’s pretty cool. I love it. And Instabase, you’re already a unicorn. Give us a little bit about the stage of growth that you’re at. It was one of these companies that raised a tremendous amount of money before anybody even knew who they were, but give us in your words.

Luke Rogers: So the company only came out of stealth just over a year ago, October 2019, just after it did its series B. What was fascinating about Instabase is it started its life as such a powerful piece of technology born out of a research project at MIT. So our founder was told by his MIT professors to drop out and start a company. And off he went, pedaled down Sand Hill Road, met the likes of Greylock and NEA, and raised a huge series A without really any material ARR or actually much of a commercially viable product. But the investors just saw the huge potential and the platform that he’d created, as did his professors at MIT.

But what then came within the course of a year of raising that money, it was just massive interest from in particular, the banking and insurance community. And we’ve got Standard Chartered is one of our earliest clients who they now have got hundreds of apps deployed on Instabase and users in over 25 different countries. They saw that client onboarding times dropped from 41 days on average to eight days after they deployed Instabase.

Sam Jacobs: Wow. Those are great stats. I’m excited for you. Let’s learn a little bit more about you because you’ve got a really interesting background. So tell us about your origin story. You’ve got an English accent. Am I talking to you in Toronto? Is that right?

Luke Rogers: You’re talking to me in Toronto, yeah. I married a Canadian, a dual national British, so we were lucky enough to have our first child just over a year ago and we decided to come home and be with her family for that. And it’s just been a real blessing to be around family. And also, explore a beautiful new city. I’m now a happy permanent resident of Toronto, but always open to new places in the future. But yeah, you detect an English accent. The origin story is I grew up outside of Manchester in the UK. If you’ve heard of Manchester, I’m sure you’ve heard of the football team or the soccer team.

I grew up there and was there at school. I actually left home at age 15, on good terms with my parents, but I’d got to a point where I just kind of outgrew the family and we went our different ways. And one of the catalysts for that was I had set up a company while I was at school, in high school. And it was essentially providing consulting services for people in my local town and surrounding area. And back then at that time, this was around 2000, 2001, everyone was freaking out about the millennium bug, if you remember that, I’m sure you do.

Sam Jacobs: Of course, Y2K.

Luke Rogers: Y2K. And so I found my angle there and everyone was installing Windows ME, which was a categorical disaster. Everyone was buying wifi access points for the first time and no one knew how to set them up. And so there was just this huge opportunity, and I’d spent time working a weekend job at an electrical retailer, just like Best Buy, but in the UK and just saw that so many people were so out of their depth with these consumer electronics and computers and just thought, Hey, there’s a big angle here. And before I knew it, I just had unprecedented demand for the services. I ended up working an out of hours helpline that was running from 6:00 PM till 6:00 AM. I was selling PCs online through an e-commerce site that I’d built and also, actually doing web design services for local businesses who’d come and said, “Hey, I think we need this. We need websites now. Apparently, it’s a thing.” And so I taught myself web design.

The whole business just grew up and blew up so much that I actually had to go and negotiate with my principal, a part-time study arrangement on the basis that I maintain a particular GPA at school, and it all worked out. The business was turning over about a quarter of a million pounds a year but by the time I was ready to go to university.

Sam Jacobs: That’s amazing. And so the business funded your way through university, is that right?

Luke Rogers: Yeah. So I was able to take the profit I made through that journey. And then I’d, by that point, taken on a business partner. He opted to buy me out and liquidated my share in the company. And that was enabled to put me through university without needing to take on massive loans. That was huge for me coming from a family without much means, and being able to do that without much of a debt burden, and go to a university that I was actually quite in awe of as well and do a degree I was in awe of.

Sam Jacobs: That’s fantastic. And so what happened after university? How did you find your way into the sales world? One of the questions I have is how did you determine that you wanted to go to work for somebody else after being so successful, starting your own business at such a young age?

Luke Rogers: So I had opted to do a really technical degree. I wanted to study a field that challenged me and it wasn’t something that I was already deeply familiar with. So I opted to study artificial intelligence and cybernetics, and then also with Chinese Mandarin on the side because I just wanted to stretch my mind.

Sam Jacobs: Light course load there.

Luke Rogers: You’ve got to do something with all the nights out in the bars. It was so fascinating to study a subject that was really talking about the future in such a present way and saying that these technologies are already far more pervasive than you think they are. I just got really, really, really excited about what the world of technology was all about, and my eyes started getting open to the likes of Silicon Valley companies.

The challenge with all of this was, I was at university from 2005 to 2008, and we all know what happened in 2008. And so there weren’t a lot of thriving startups around to go join. I knew I was ready to go and learn from someone else, from a bigger organization, from other leaders. I knew I didn’t want to go back to a small town and run a small business. I knew I wanted to get into the world of tech and learn about that. And so I just set to work applying for all of the grad schemes, Google, IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, you name it. I probably applied to eight or nine of them and I got into the majority of them.

But in 2008, Cisco was offering a graduate sales academy based in Amsterdam. And there’s a 20-year-old guy, a paid year to go and work and be taught and Amsterdam was pretty appealing.

Sam Jacobs: Absolutely. And so you were an individual rep at Cisco and then I guess, would you say that things really took off when you joined AppDynamics in 2013?

Luke Rogers: Yeah, I think it was a meaningful part. I was at Cisco for three and a half years, and then I was told by a mentor to go to IBM or go to a different company if I wanted to get a pay rise because I was stuck on that graduate pay band. And I did, and I really discovered what I didn’t want from my own career and the kinds of people that, as nice as they all were, I just didn’t want to be around a lack of ambition and a lack of drive. And I really felt that with my time at IBM. So I actually started a second business, which they shut down because they weren’t happy with the fact that I have done that in company time, it was a breach of contract, all that good stuff that I had been too naive to realize at the time, and just realize that this is the time to go and work for a startup. And AppDynamics, as you say, was the startup that I chose in 2013, but it wasn’t because of the product and the market, it was really because of the people that I met.

Sam Jacobs: Tell me about those people. What was special about them?

Luke Rogers: I think I’d been lacking any form of manager or leader in my career to that point. And that was really pushing me, really, really pushing me to achieve things that weren’t easily obviously achievable. I met this gentleman called Jeremy Duggan, who’d just been appointed GM of EMEA by the board of AppDynamics. And they were scaling out the operation. And I knew about this gentleman, Jeremy. He has quite the reputation in the UK. He’d already taken and seen two companies through to a billion dollars, Bladelogic and Essential Software. And he came from the PTC School of Sales and everyone warned me about him. They all told me, “Yeah, he’s a horrible person. He runs a hire and fire culture.”

Sam Jacobs: Horrible person

Luke Rogers: People were really quite aggressive about it.

Sam Jacobs: Jeremy, if you’re listening, I don’t think you’re a horrible person.

Luke Rogers: And I now know he’s not, having worked for him for such a long time. But what it made me realize is when I did meet him, that he isn’t a horrible person, but if you are somebody that has ambition and drive and wants to achieve things that seem very difficult, it’s the greatest thing that could ever happen to someone like me. But he’s probably the worst thing that could ever happen to somebody that doesn’t want those things, which is maybe where a bit of that reputation came from. Like people who really aren’t trying to push the envelope, they’re not his thing. And it just made me want to be around someone like that because I knew he would assemble a culture and a team of people like that. And that’s just what he did.

Sam Jacobs: And then how long were you at AppDynamics?

Luke Rogers: Seven and a half years. I had quite a journey. So I was the first rep he hired in the UK. Two years later, he promoted me to be the first manager, regional director in the UK to build out a team. And then two years after that, I became the VP of the UK, now running four or five teams, took on responsibility for the Nordics, then ultimately all of Northern Europe and then just acted as interim GM of EMEA through the end of the fiscal year in 2019. And then all through that, the company had been acquired in 2017 by Cisco but had been left to be an autonomous business unit as part of Cisco. So we were operating very autonomously and independently continuing to grow, continuing to be successful.

And then in 2019 we got pregnant and decided to go and be in Canada for the birth of my daughter. And so that’s when they facilitated a move for me to move over to run the US central business and Canada.

The keys to great leadership [18:24]

Sam Jacobs: You’ve had a pretty, I don’t know if it’s meteoric, but it’s a steady ascension from being an individual contributor now to having built and run teams all over Europe and now in the Americas. As you’ve become and now are an experienced leader, what do you think the keys to great leadership is? And to assembling an effective and powerful team?

Luke Rogers: Ultimately, any leader should say this, which is it’s about recruiting the right people. Any business book you read, it’s all around the right people, but there’s more to it than just getting the right people in the boat. I think it’s what is the right person? In my opinion, it’s hiring for intelligence, resilience, and entrepreneurship, instead of experience. That for me is the key learning. And of course, somebody like me who got plucked out of Cisco and IBM with no very mediocre experience, no enterprise software experience, I had that same experience coming into a company and being given a shot, and I think if people are really smart, really coachable, really resilient and entrepreneurial, they’ll thrive in a startup environment.

One of the lessons that I’ve learned is that those people that are just looking for a big paycheck, they’ll stick around just as long as it’s easy to make big money, and then as soon as it’s not, or as soon as things don’t go their way, they’re nowhere to be seen. And the really damaging thing about people like that, and I’ve seen plenty of them now, is that as they get towards that point where everything doesn’t start to go that way and they don’t get the promotion because actually they’re not really the right people to lead, and maybe they don’t get all the accounts that they want and the patch needs to start being redistributed, is that they become a bit toxic. And another thing I’ve learned is that no breath is better than bad breath. The longer you let those people stick around as much as they might be your top earners, the worse you make it for everyone else, and actually the worse you make it for yourself.

Sam Jacobs: I’ve never heard that. No breath is better than bad breath. As somebody with bad breath, that hurts.

Luke Rogers: But luckily I don’t have to experience that, so.

A more scientific interview process [20:35]

Sam Jacobs: We’re at a distance right now. One of the reasons people focus on experience is because it’s a proxy for an ineffective recruiting or interviewing process where they don’t feel comfortable assessing somebody’s skills and determining if somebody is resilient or entrepreneurial or self-driven. Have you been forced to design the point of sales as a science? Have you been forced to design a more scientific interview process so that you can suss out those qualities?

Luke Rogers: Absolutely. And I can’t obviously take all the credit for it because this harks back to a gentleman named John McMahon, who has trained a number of people in looking for these traits and priorities. So this isn’t my proprietary idea, but I’ve certainly bought into it, believed in it and evolved it. And as you are trying to enable leaders that you bring in to bring in the right talent, you do have to give them tools and techniques. So one of the things that we will do is we’ll take a big pile of resumes and we’ll do a yes-no exercise and we’ll give them no prompts, and we’ll say, “Hey, right. Would you hire this person?” And then they have to come up with all the reasons why they should.

And then what we really do is we teach them to see what a resume really says about somebody and read between the lines to find these qualities, and then also read between the lines to ask the right questions and understanding what somebody has been through in their life and what their life story is about, will you proper insights into their levels of resilience, because a lot of people have thankfully led very comfortable lives. And it doesn’t mean those people also aren’t great, but there is a direct correlation in my opinion, between those people that have sought out discomfort in their life, or have been forced through it and risen out of it in the right way and beaten it and a direct correlation between those people in success.

And so it’s about asking the right questions and also being able to read the resume in the right way, so also you’re not wasting your time being sold to, by a myriad of candidates that are never going to work out. And another thing that a mistake I’ve made is I’ve hired people because I’ve fallen for them and I thought, this is somebody I really want to give them a chance. And as long as they’re coachable, and as long as that tough, it’s all going to work out. But the other hard lesson I’ve learned is that certainly when you’re talking about startups, if they’re not intelligent enough, they’ll never truly make it. They’ll never be able to handle the levels of ambiguity that we need in a startup world.

Sam Jacobs: You mentioned reading the resume the right way and asking the right questions. Give us one or two examples of a really good question that you rely on or an interesting experience that might not be obvious to somebody that hasn’t reviewed a resume carefully before that would jump out to you as indicative of the qualities you’re looking for.

Luke Rogers: So there’s basic things like the people who jump around a lot, that have a very small, like a sub two year tenure between roles. Because for me that demonstrates a lack of resilience because they tend to leave when things get tough or they don’t go their own way. Another thing that I tend to like to see is people that have pursued non-academic achievements outside of work, that have done remarkable things.

Some of the examples I could give, one lady that I was privileged enough to hire had danced on stage ballet at the Royal Albert Hall, and had done an incredible standard of outdoor mountaineering. Another person had diffused bombs for the Royal Navy underwater in shipyards, and was trained as a military underwater bomb disposal diver. Another gentleman had lived with monks in some of the highest mountains in Nepal and studied and fasted for many months in a voyage of self-discovery. And so smart people will put that kind of detail out on their resume or out on their profile because those are really remarkable achievements that they should be proud of. And those are the remarkable achievements of typically remarkable people. And people who aren’t remarkable, they don’t typically have that many remarkable achievements.

How to build a more diverse team [24:50]

Sam Jacobs: Well said. One of the big efforts and a big focus for you is diversity, and making sure that you’re doing your part, talk a little bit about your perspective on how to build diverse teams and what you’re doing at Instabase to further that effort in that goal.

Luke Rogers: I was raised by a single mother, and so I have a passionate and strong belief for the fact that women can do anything and the world should be a very equal place. Coming up through Cisco, that wasn’t so much of a thing. Cisco had actually done a very good job, certainly at the graduate level of assembling a diverse culture, certainly on the agenda from, but also other fronts. So I didn’t have too much exposure to it there. But it was really when I got into my time not just within AppDynamics but also looking at a lot of other tech startups, that I realized that it’s a bit of a boy’s club.

Sam Jacobs: I think that’s an understatement.

Luke Rogers: It’s a bit of an understatement, right? And it’s a self-perpetuating problem because the more guys you promote into leadership positions, people who aren’t trained in looking for talent in the way that I have been, you recruit people that are like you. It’s natural, it’s a human instinct. And therefore, people who aren’t like you, i.e middle-class white men, don’t get a shot. And especially when you’re hiring for experience, then that’s a particular problem because you go out there looking for five years of enterprise SaaS sales experience, you’re mostly going to find middle-class white guys.

And what I’ve been taught to believe and what I do believe is that by deprioritizing experience and prioritizing intellect and character and resilience and entrepreneurship, you can hire people from anywhere. I’ve hired people from finance, from recruitment, from marketing, and they’ve been exceptional. And so, I would love for us all collectively as an industry and as leaders across the industry to shatter this belief that enterprise software sales experience is a necessary requirement when hiring great talent, because it’s an impediment to assembling diverse teams because there’s just not the talent pool of people out there that is diverse, that has that experience right now. We’ve got to create it through an effort in education and enablement and through giving people a shot.

The role experience plays in evaluating job candidates [27:25]

Sam Jacobs: I completely agree with you at the same time that I personally have become who I am as a human being, because of experience, and because I’ve learned lessons often the hard way. What role does experience play for you in evaluating a candidate?

Luke Rogers: So the latter part of that question is absolutely the case. We built an outstanding enablement organization at AppDynamics for that very reason, because our mantra was about the experience last and we had not just one boot camp, we had two, and we had this extensive quarterly training program that operated in every theater. We had this really sophisticated e-learning platform. And we had in-field enablement leaders that were individual contributors whose sole job it was to shadow sales calls with reps to help them ramp as quickly as we possibly could. So you do have to over-index on enablement and training in that configuration.

Where does experience play a role? It still plays an experience. It’s not off the table completely. It’s just the bottom. It’s the least important criteria for me. And the amount of experience required depends on the phase of growth of the company. If I was today, go and recruit 10 people straight out of university into Instabase, as it’s growing from 10 million in ARR and beyond, then that’s not going to be a particularly smart move because there is some level of self-sufficiency that’s required. And because there isn’t an established enablement organization yet, then that would be a much harder ramp for those kinds of people.

But I think as time goes on, as long as you establish that as a foundational requirement for a GTM organization, the enablement is going to play an inherent role in everything that we do, and the people that we promote into positions of leadership, we promote them because they are teachers, because they are mentors and because they believe in nurturing talent, then we’ll build the organization in the right way with the right people, and we’ll be able to give people a chance as we scale.

Who and what inspires Luke [30:06]

Sam Jacobs: That makes a lot of sense, and that’s inspiring. So kudos to you for embracing that ideology. We’re almost at the end of our short time together, Luke, but this is the part of the conversation. You’ve mentioned Jeremy Duggan before, but there’s probably a variety of other people, books, podcasts, content, influencers, you can define it in any way that you would like to. When you think about the people that you think we should know about, or the books that we should know about or the ideas that we should know about what comes to mind, what can you point us towards?

Luke Rogers: I loved reading Elon Musk’s autobiography by Ashlee Vance, just because Elon Musk doesn’t give a fuck, and I love that about him. And I think there should be more people in the world like Elon Musk.

Sam Jacobs: That’s the right amount.

Luke Rogers: I just love it. If there were a few more crazy billionaires like Elon, the world would be a very different and hopefully a better place, especially given his interest in green technology and having been a proud Tesla owner, I do subscribe to the Elon fan club. There’s also interesting people that I’ve met along my way, that have trained me. A gentleman called Mike Rognlien, he runs Multiple Hats Consulting. He was the head of people development at Facebook. So he spent his entire career from the very early days of Mark and Cheryl, essentially coaching young, early-in-career talent at Facebook, to be the best that there could be. And he’s been a very important influencing factor in the later half of my career here.

Podcasts, everyone’s got to unwind as well. And I always had a deep fascination, obviously with Sales Hackers, Sam, but the Serial Podcast and season one in particular, if no one’s listened to that or people haven’t heard that, it was absolutely brilliant.

Sam Jacobs: Luke, it sounds like Instabase is growing, is on fire, is already a unicorn in evaluation perspective, now it’s time to become a unicorn from a revenue perspective. And I’m sure that you’re hiring as you look to build your team. If people are listening and they want to reach out to you, are you okay with that, and do you have a preferred channel through which they should communicate?

Luke Rogers: LinkedIn. I think it’s my go-to, one of the tabs I always have open in my Chrome browser is LinkedIn, but I think people who obviously take pride in keeping their profile up-to-date, that helps. [email protected], always a good way to get me, but I would love anyone to reach out, and especially for a job, but also if they just want to get to know me and be in my network, I am always looking to grow that network, especially with other like-minded leaders who believe in the same sort of cause that I do. I would be thrilled to meet anyone that wants to talk. And obviously, being a proud member of the Revenue Collective, if anyone’s in there, please just send me a message. I’m on Slack.

Sam’s Corner [34:03]

Sam Jacobs: Hey folks, Sam’s Corner. I’m going to give you some food for thought. Once your thought eats the food, you’ll have more energy to think more thoughts. I guess that’s where that comes from. Anyway, I really enjoyed that conversation with Luke Rogers, and I think you can tell when you’re talking to those special people, those people that just take a differentiated approach to life and want something for their lives. Luke has already done great things, but you know I think will achieve his goals, whatever those goals are. He didn’t articulate them to me, but he’s got that way of approaching life, systematic discipline but still with novelty. He’s looking for interesting experiences, interesting people, interesting ideas.

This is all me just extrapolating based on that conversation, but he just seems like a good person and somebody that really takes achievement and accomplishment in the short time that we have on this planet seriously, which I think we should, because as I just said, it’s a short time that we’re here and we can spend it on the couch or we could spend it accomplishing things. In the age of technology, I suppose you can accomplish things from the couch. So it’s not really where you’re sitting, it’s about your mindset.

Now, a couple of things that Luke mentioned, the first is the biggest takeaway. Experience is clouding our ability to hire great people, and it’s reinforcing stereotypes. If you’re looking for people with experience and all the people with experience are middle-class white people, then you’re only going to constantly hire middle-class white people. And if you’re trying to build diversity, if you believe that diversity makes great teams and helps you perform at an elite level, and you’re going to have to deprioritize experience and focus on qualities.

And then you’re going to have to focus on an interview process that allows you to identify those qualities and Luke talks about how you read somebody’s resume in a differentiated way. Don’t just look at the fact that they worked at Oracle or Cisco or Microsoft for five years, look at what else they do in their lives. Have they achieved something great? Have they overcome some great adversity? And also, you’re going to have to ask differentiated or interesting questions, and you’re going to have to solve for intelligence and aptitude and capability and potential, more than you solve for just pure resume-driven experience, and I think that that’s powerful advice.

I am the beneficiary of that approach. I joined Gerson Lehrman Group as a young whippersnapper with not a very good resume and I rose up quickly and I didn’t have the experience, but people gave me an opportunity when they saw what I was capable of. And similarly, with other of my friends at Gerson Lehrman Group, including frankly, the CEO Alexander Saint-Amand, but also Jim Sharp, the now CEO of Aventri, James Yockey, the CEO of Landdox, these are all my friends and they’re all people that are on the younger side at the time that they were rising up, but they had that capability, they had that entrepreneurial mindset.

So I guess the number one thing I would say about Luke’s conversation and Luke’s thoughts is I agree with him. Deprioritize experience because experience can be misleading. I think the other thing that we need to be thinking about is if that’s true and particularly if we’re in a remote world where people are distributed all over the world, we’ve got to emphasize and prioritize constant and ongoing sales readiness and sales training. You’ve got to enable your teams, and this is something I have not been great at, but you’ve got to find a way we’re not all sitting next to each other, we’re not at the water cooler or in the cafeteria, or going to PREC for a sandwich, as Sam Southern would say, a mediocre sandwich, but a sandwich nonetheless, and maybe one of their little granola apple cinnamon, yogurt things. Those are always really good, where you walk there with your coworker and you’re talking about what you’ve learned. You’re talking about experiences. We don’t have the socialization opportunities to absorb tacit knowledge.

So you’re going to need tools, technology, and systems, systems, and a process for teaching and training people in an effective way. And especially, you’re going to need to do that if you’re intentionally going out and hiring people that don’t have exactly the right experience. So those are my thoughts. I really liked the conversation with Luke and hopefully, you got something out of it.

Don’t miss episode #140

We want to thank our sponsors. The first one is 6sense, the account engagement platform that uncovers and analyzes buyer and tenant scale, identifying prospects who are in the market for your solution and providing salespeople like you with the insight to create highly relevant messaging, and learn how modern sales teams win deals. Now at

Finally, our sponsor is Outreach, the number one sales engagement platform. Outreach is currently revolutionizing customer engagement, creating the category of sales engagement and becoming the number one leader in sales engagement, enabling personalization at scale previously. Check them out at

And without further ado, I will talk to you next time.

The post PODCAST 139: The Science of Becoming a Better Sales Leader with Luke Rogers appeared first on Sales Hacker.


How to Build a Buyer-First Mindset According to a…

Back in 2017, HubSpot discovered that only 3% of consumers thought of salespeople as “trustworthy.”

Luckily, some major companies, like LinkedIn, have discovered a way to improve sales relationships, customer trust, and — ultimately — sales numbers. It’s called “buyer-first selling.”

Recently, HubSpot sat down with Kwesi Graves, Regional Sales Manager at LinkedIn, to learn more about how he centers his team’s sales approach completely around the ideal buyer. 

To help sales managers, leaders, and reps transform their processes in 2021, we’ll walk you through how Graves has successfully implemented buyer-first strategies on his team.

How to Implement Buyer-First Selling Like LinkedIn

1. Help your team scrap performance-only mindsets.

For decades, sales teams have been so driven by hard numbers that they’ve lost sight of who their buyers actually are. This disconnection between reps and prospects has led to distrust from consumers.

Even today, as companies make a point to center processes around the customer journey, some teams still focus on the wrong goals.

“As salespeople — we’re driven by our goals. We’re driven by our numbers — and we’re driven by the pressure of selling,” Graves says. “Within that drive, we often take an approach that’s driven off what we want to achieve versus what the buyer actually needs.”

By building a sales strategy around a buyer’s needs, sales teams can hit the same competitive goals while also building vital long-term relationships with prospects or customers.

“Buyer-first is really a philosophy that we should’ve all been doing from the beginning,” Graves says.

But, while centering your strategy around buyer needs might sound like a no-brainer, Graves says managers need to help teams shake number-driven sales mentalities.

“When we think about the concept of buyer-first, it’s redefining the paradigm. We’re going to look at how buyers want to buy versus how we choose to sell to them,” Graves explains. “It’s all about mindset and scrapping out or wiping the hard drive from that old mindset, especially in the way we’re selling now in this market.”

To help his team challenge engrained sales mindsets, Graves encourages them to research their buyers, tailor messaging around them, and participate in team activities that get them to think more like a consumer. We’ll talk more about these strategies below.

2. Know and understand your buyer.

In this time of financial uncertainty, prospects are more cautious than ever about where they invest their money and which salespeople they speak to. Because of this, reps and leaders must prioritize building trust with contacts and avoid impersonal, less trustworthy, behaviors.

“Impersonal sales looks like a blanket approach. If I’m playing the role of a rep or a leader who’s encouraging reps to act in [an impersonal] way, it looks like we’re not paying attention. It looks like we didn’t put the effort we needed to understand anything about the person I’m reaching out to,” Graves explains.

“Buyers don’t view salespeople as trustworthy to begin with,” Graves adds. “We’re telling our reps, ‘Get more active,’ and we think we’re handing them tools. In reality, we’re handing them a shovel, and they’re just digging a deeper hole for themselves.”

One solid way to build trust with a prospect is by researching them, knowing their pain points, and taking the time to build a sales strategy around their needs.

“I always encourage my team to take off their [sales] hats and put on their [customer] hats until they understand them,” Graves says.

When managers enable their teams to think like prospects, they can redefine what their buyer persona “cares about, how he or she is going about their day, and what challenges they’re trying to overcome every single day.”

For example, before Graves even reaches out to a prospect who works in marketing, he wants to know, “everything about what they are grappling with right now.”

“I want to know what [marketers] care about in terms of conversion rates, sales qualified leads, or marketing qualified leads; and how everything about their world is reshaped,” Graves shares.

“Until we really understand [the customer], we shouldn’t be selling to them in the first place,” Graves says.

3. Use coaching or activities to reinforce buyer-first mindsets.

Even if a manager believes in a buyer-first mindset, it’s still important to make sure the team is on the same page. Graves says the best way to do this is to first build a team with similar mindsets.

“[Sales reps] need to understand that their mindset needs to be shaped around the buyer-first mentality,” Graves says. “More than anything, our reps need to understand that this is what the future is. If we actually want to win — if they want to do well in this career — they have to understand the ‘Why?’ [behind buyer-first selling].”

Once a manager or leader builds a team of buyer-focused reps, they should continue to reinforce the mindset through various activities, according to Graves.

“We spend a lot of time … reinforcing our methodologies and how we sell — especially with regard to prospecting,” says Graves.

Graves says one of his favorite reinforcement activities involves pitch sessions in team meetings.

“At our weekly team meetings, I’ll sit with my team and I’ll pick a random topic [related to a LinkedIn product]. I’ll pick a random person and then they have to pitch [LinkedIn products related to this topic] to their team and me,” Graves explains. “We score them on the quality of their pitch from a buyer’s perspective.”

In particular, Graves says his reps’ five-minute pitches are graded on the following criteria:

  • Conciseness: “The five-minute timeframe feels unreasonable, but it’s done by design because it forces you to hone in on the key elements of a message.”
  • Simplicity: “Can your grandma understand this if you talk to her and she knows nothing about this topic?”
  • Inspiration Level: “Are the recipients of that message leaving feeling inspired to learn more about what you talked about?”

According to Graves, the pitching activity has “really helped us sharpen our swords and make sure that we’re on point and on message with what people actually care about.”

“If someone needs additional coaching, I’ll take that to the one-on-ones,” Graves adds. “We spend a lot of time thinking about how we refine [our buyer-first approach], hone it, we constantly practice it.”

4. If reps struggle, focus on fundamentals.

“When I think about a rep or leader that’s struggling, I go back to the basics. I figure out what they’re doing at the simplest level and then build up from there,” Graves says.

Graves explains that assisting struggling reps is like coaching a basketball athlete on their free-throw. Before diving into the complexity of sales, you’ll want to check on the reps fundamental skills first.

“I think of sales very much like basketball,” says Graves. “Do you have a good free throw? Do you take the time to practice and understand what goes into shooting that good shot consistently?”

Graves explains that focusing on fundamental sales skills has been especially crucial within the constantly changing sales landscape of 2020.

“There is a lot of focus on the way people go after their buyers and their prospects,” Graves says. “You see a bigger number [of calls] but you see people responding to you less. You get really tactical and start shooting all over the map to get to people. And, you forget about the basics.”

According to Graves, some basic tactics reps might forget about when under extreme pressure include responding to customer pain points, tailoring messages, and building sales strategies around their needs.

When zoning in on a struggling rep’s most fundamental tactics “you usually uncover a small crack.” Graves says. “Once we uncover that crack, we fill it and go from there.”

5. Craft customer-centric messaging and prioritize quality.

While digital outreach provides great opportunities to sales teams, Graves advises that teams still need to send quality messages to earn responses.

“For us, [quality outreach] is about three things. It’s really about being relevant, tailored, and concise,” Graves explains. Below is a breakdown of why each of these three elements is crucial to quality outreach:

Tailored Messaging

Regardless of whether you send a prospect an InMail, email, voicemail, or text message, Graves says that if the quality is poor, “you’ve already lost” the prospect.

“I really encourage my teams to double their research effort versus their actions. … I’d rather see a pipe of 50/50, Graves says.

With their buyer research, salespeople can shape a sharper message when people are receiving our content.


“I don’t want my team to send messages that don’t matter to people. In the same way, I don’t want to receive those messages,” Graves shares. “We need to make sure our teams are well aware of what’s going on, what’s moving the needle in those worlds, or what’s holding the needle back — and tailor that message from a relevance perspective.”


“Our lives are as busy as possible right now. The last thing anyone wants is a full-text copy of ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ on a text message or in an email,” Graves says. “Keep it really simple.

Graves says the most concise message will quickly explain why a sales rep is reaching out, why their product or service matters, and some type of detail that proves they’ve researched the prospect they’re contacting.

“Now — more than ever — when we try to reach out to people, they’re getting these messages in their homes. We hope to speak to them on the phone on the video calls, but we’re gonna be in their homes.” Graves adds. “With this uptick in outreach … we want the quality to also go a lot higher.”

Refining Your Sales Strategy in 2021

Ultimately, the best way to succeed in today’s sales landscape is to understand your buyer and craft your strategy around them. Not only will this build valuable trust, but it could also earn you more high-quality leads or deals — even in uncertain times.

Want more sales leadership wisdom from Graves? Check out this great video where we sat down with him:


To learn even more about how sales leaders are prioritizing the customer this year, check out our interviews with Sandler, Gong, and Aircall executives.

For more recent data and insights on the sales industry, download HubSpot’s 2021 Sales Enablement Report. The free resource, which you can download below, features tips from big-company sales leaders, like Graves, as well as survey data from thousands of sales leaders around the globe.


Sales Processes Research 2020 – Something Old, Something New


Despite the huge growth in marketing and sales automation, along with the growing popularity and acceptance of self-service sales processes, reports of the death of the salesperson are greatly exaggerated, to paraphrase Mark Twain.

Higher value B2B sales still need a competent salesperson to close the deal. But how have the processes and techniques of salespeople changed in the modern world?

This was what CRM vendors Really Simple Systems set to find out in their 2020 Sales Professionals research project.

The audience

The global survey asked salespeople from the company’s own customer base of CRM users and augmented that list using the SurveyMonkey Audience tool, as well as inviting other sales professionals to participate through social media. This resulted in 168 people completing the survey, with over half of them having more than five years’ sales experience. The respondents were spread across 35 different business sectors, of which the technology sector made up the largest group at 16%.

Adapting to COVID-19

The research highlighted the rapid change experienced in the sales environment over recent years and how salespeople have needed to revise their approach. On top of this, in the last few months, it shows how traditional sales methods have become largely outdated and ineffective. The global pandemic has shaken up the market, and technology is influencing this change.

Here we look at some of the more surprising aspects of the research and what this might mean for sales in the future.

Prospecting for new leads in 2020 – the old and the new

The survey first looked at how salespeople prospected for new leads. The most popular technique was the old stalwart email marketing with 50% of respondents saying this was their preferred tool. Next was good old-fashioned referrals and networking, and then the newcomer LinkedIn, both through personal accounts and using Sales Navigator.

Perhaps surprising was the fact that many people were still cold calling and using telemarketing. Surprising because these activities were effectively outlawed by data protection legislation, such as GDPR, which was introduced in 2018 in Europe. Old school exhibitions and seminars together with direct mail were shown to be still unexpectedly popular, together with new techniques such as influencer reviews and social media.


Further questions in the survey were related to whether and how salespeople researched their prospects before they contacted them. Unsurprisingly, 90% said they did research their prospect first, although maybe we should be surprised that 10% did not.

Most people (77%) claimed they checked the company’s website in the first instance. Then 63% checked the individual’s LinkedIn profile, with 43% going on to check their social media activity, and 42% looking at the company’s registration record.

With the popularity of LinkedIn, both in primary lead generation and for researching prospects, businesses need to make sure that their company and individual profiles are up to snuff. It seems that sales prospects will invariably check them once they are contacted.

How do people respond to a new lead?

So when do you contact a new lead? If you reach out too soon, the prospect may be annoyed, but if you reach out too late, some other vendor may have already got in first. A lot depends upon the culture of the country you are operating in. In the US, an instant response may be expected, but this is not the case in Europe. Obviously, if the prospect has called in asking for information, an instant response is needed. Less so if they have signed up for a software trial and received an automated response.

The research showed that email was the preferred response mechanism with a traditional phone call as the next most popular. Certainly, a call (if you can get through) is the better sales approach as it allows the salesperson to build rapport, ask more questions, and qualify all at once. From experience, we know that in the UK and US it can be hard to get through to the prospect, but in Australia that’s not the case. The next question in the survey covered that point.

How persistently do salespeople follow up?

The number of times a salesperson will attempt to create conversation with the prospect depends upon various factors. It was no surprise that the value of the sale was of key importance, with the higher the value prompting greater resolve. However, other factors such as how many other – and possibly better – prospects they have may also have an influence.

Three attempts to call seemed to be the norm, but many people said they continued for more than six times.

What’s the best sales follow up?

This survey was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic in July 2020 and shows that 38% preferred to follow up with a video call, as opposed to 46% face-to-face. Will that change when the pandemic is over? Probably, but having become used to video calls it is likely they will still be popular in the future. Meanwhile, email follow up is still the favored method, with 60% of salespeople preferring it.

A CRM system is best for managing leads

The research found that most people (63%) use a CRM system to manage their leads. However, a surprising 45% say that they are still using spreadsheets and/or other manual methods. Twenty percent of people were also using lead scoring.

As all the above add up to more than 100%, we can assume that many people are using a combination of these methods. That still leaves 37% not using a CRM system. This implies that a lot of businesses are not managing their leads in the most effective way, so they could be missing sales.

Sales survey summary and conclusions

The key takeaways from this research:

  • LinkedIn has grown to be a major tool for salespeople
  • Email still holds its own as the favorite communication method for both lead generation and follow-up
  • Video conferencing takes off for prospect meetings
  • Many businesses are still to adopt CRM software
  • Data protection legislations, such as GDPR, on cold calling and emailing are being ignored

With all these surprising facts, there is no doubt that we need to survey salespeople more often in order to find patterns that will help us improve sales tactics. If you’ve found this research helpful, share it with your colleagues to empower the greater sales community.

The post Sales Processes Research 2020 – Something Old, Something New appeared first on Sales Hacker.


The 6 Key Traits Effective Sales Management Begins With

Every sales manager has some degree of legitimate dedication to both their company and professional development. That’s a big part of how you get to be a manager in the first place.

Those qualities are almost a given in sales management, but the very best managers don’t stop there — they exhibit some other key traits and behaviors that take their management skills from good to great.

Here, we’ll review six of the most crucial qualities that every ambitious sales manager should fold into their day-to-day operations and broader aspirations to take their management skills to the next level.

1. A Consistent Commitment to Personal Improvement

The best sales managers lead by example. They inspire their teams through their own dedication and, in turn, get more from their reps. That’s why exemplary sales managers never stop trying to improve.

Complacency is a detriment to effective sales management. As a manager, it’s on you to fight any inclination to remain stagnant in how you take on your responsibilities. You have to want to be better and consistently deliver on that motivation.

Attend sales management seminars. Make a conscious effort to better understand and approach the aspects of your job that extend beyond directly managing your team. No matter what you do, remain grounded, open, and ambitious when it comes to your ongoing professional development.

2. The Ability to Identify and Hire Quality Candidates

The sustained success of your team rests primarily on the talent you bring in. The best sales manager in the world can only get so far with a rep who lacks the ambition, skills, or cultural fit to thrive and actively contribute to their team.

Onboarding and ultimately letting go of an ineffective hire is a massive drain on time, effort, money, and company resources. So you need to be able to get ahead of that potentially disastrous process. That’s why sound hiring skills are so crucial to your success as a sales manager.

Understand the skills and attributes that you want to hire for — as well as the questions you need to ask to uncover them. You can learn those by touching base with and learning from your more experienced colleagues.

Once you have a firm picture of those components, relay those ideal traits to your recruiters. That way, you’ll ensure that the crop of candidates you bring in is more likely to successfully pan out.

3. A Willingness to Construct and Commit to a Sales Process

Cohesion and consistency are a sales manager’s best friends. They’re central to maintaining a tight ship and keeping operations as fluid and efficient as possible. You need your whole team to be on the same page so it serves you to give them a solid framework to abide by.

That’s where a well-structured sales process comes into play. If you can establish, monitor, and facilitate an effective sequence of steps for your reps to follow when conducting their sales efforts, you can make both your and their jobs easier.

There should always be some degree of rhyme and reason to your team’s sales efforts. The best managers know it’s on them to define and enforce what that will look like.

4. A Firm Understanding of Relevant KPIs

Managers need to understand how both their and their teams’ success will be gauged and measured. You have to understand how to interpret and apply relevant KPIs like average sales cycle length, average deal size, and discovery-to-close rate.

You’ll also need a firm understanding of how those metrics will be reported. Being able to read and make something of the necessary reports you’ll be referencing is key to identifying areas for improvement in both your and your team’s performance.

In some cases, you might have to work with your managers to get a solid feel for this aspect of the job. Don’t be reluctant to touch base with them about the how and why behind the KPIs and reports you need to have a grasp on.

No matter what it might take to get there, you have to know the ins and outs of the figures used to measure your performance.

5. Objective, Fair Conflict Resolution Skills

Sales reps don’t always get along. Conflict is natural in the workplace, and as a manager, it’s often on you to resolve any potential clashes between your team members.

When confronted with that kind of situation, the best sales managers know how to remain calm, impartial, and objective. Conflict doesn’t have to mean confrontation, and effective managers can ensure that that kind of tension doesn’t boil over and interfere with how their team functions.

They know how to hear every side without playing favorites and make sure that disputes get resolved constructively — minimizing friction, sustaining high morale, and ultimately making their operations run smoother.

For more information on how to develop effective conflict resolution skills, check out this article here.

6. Firm but Compassionate Communication and Feedback Skills

Coaching and offering feedback are two of the most important responsibilities that consistently fall on sales managers. It’s on them to provide personal insight that will get the most out of their reps.

Typically, doing both right means leading with empathy and providing constructive guidance. You need to understand who your reps are. No two team members are built the same. They’re going to be receptive to different kinds of coaching.

If you can tactfully tailor your messages and feedback to accommodate your reps as individuals, you’ll put yourself in an excellent position to be the best sales manager you can be.

Now, by no means is this list exhaustive. There are plenty of other qualities exceptional sales managers generally exhibit. Still, that doesn’t make the behaviors and tendencies listed here any less valuable. If you’re a sales manager, it’s in your best interest to add these components into your management repertoire if you haven’t already.

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