Three Inside Sales Lessons From A Six-Year Old

Last week my son made his first sales call. For an inside sales thought leader, you have got to believe this was big in my house! My brave six year old D.J. read the school script to relatives & friends and got pledges for the APEX fundraiser (yes, that link is shameless promotion for my son).

3 Inside Sales lessons learned from a 6 year old

Watching a little human do this for the first time made ME nervous – and OH. SO. PROUD. It reminded me of a few truths we could all keep in mind when preparing new hires to take to the phones for their first time:

Don’t assume anyone can do this

ANY human will get nervous asking people for money over the phone. Let’s all keep this in mind when we ask for more dials and results. His brother BAILED after one call (and he’s the extrovert in the family!!).

Set up small wins early and celebrate BIG

The small wins he got (and we celebrated big time) energized him to make more calls. He was pulling aunties out of the woodwork! Thanks Mary Beth Burke and Amy Bailey! When we set up small wins early and celebrate BIG, they’ll be hooked.

Do a better job teaching rejection in new hire training

When he got his first “no” he totally rolled with it and still wanted to make another call. Why? Because we set it up ahead of time that it would likely happen, why, and what to say. Special shout out to Uncle Shawn who agreed up front to say no to a six year old so we could teach this lesson (THAT wasn’t easy!). More “NO” in role plays and more help in why they happen and the how to handle them.

Remember that just like a first grader, our new hires watch us to determine how to act. It’s good to show some nerves, to celebrate small wins, and to get right back up like a “no” doesn’t sting a little. I know that the next time I’m in class I’ll be a little less tough on the 23 year old making his first calls.

By the way, my proudest moment was when he DITCHED THE SCRIPT and felt confident enough to use his own words. I can’t believe I didn’t record it! (no, that’s not him in the picture, but it’s so cute, right!?)

Just Say No To Scripts

Sales leaders, lend me your attention on this please.  I know it’s logical to write a script.  You’ve built great messaging and you’ve hired young talent.  We don’t want them to F it up on the calls, right?  And yet I bet you would like to be getting better call results than you are now.  Your script could be the reason why.  Here is why I think scripts suck:

  1. You wrote it for your voice / personality.  No matter how much I practice, I won’t feel confident saying your words.
  2. Confidence is KING in sales (see point one).
  3. You are a big shot.  I am not.  A good friend is CEO of a sales enablement company and makes cold calls (you’re a stud, Chris).  So he gives his scrip to his SDR team and they fail.  Why?  Chris is a CEO.  His title and his swagger on the phone catch attention.  He can get away with saying stuff that mere mortals can’t. (This is also why Challenger selling is hard for new reps, BTW.)

So what’s the better solution?

phone sales scripts

Messaging suggestions + training / coaching

Of course you want to give them talking points!  Even steps to follow (e.g. 1. name, 2. reason for call, 3. value, 4. question).  Even a few sample scripts are helpful.  But then they MUST write their own script in their own words and practice it.  That’s where the training and coaching comes in.  We practice the scripts in class, steal good stuff from our friends, then go get on the phones and try them.  Next step?  Listen to those calls and coach (as a group!).  Did it work?  Did it sound natural?  Is there a better word or nuance for delivery that could help?

Doing it this way (dare I say the RIGHT way) will cost you about a half day / script (e.g. intro, closing, overcoming objections).  The ROI will be tremendous.  You should see your close % / win % increase at least 30% by helping reps find confidence in their own words.

Let’s do it you guys.  Let’s quit scripts together!  It’s like quitting smoking (Who? Me?) Pick a date and vow to rip them up.  Schedule your group training / coaching to happen a few days before and I promise you’ll be glad you did.

Need some help?  We’d be happy to oblige!  When we trained intros to Chris’ team of SDR’s their appointment close percentage TRIPLED during class and then leveled out to double over the next two months.  Check out our SDR training.

How To Scale An Inside Sales Team The Right Way

On Oct 11, New Voice Media, Salesforce, and Factor 8 attack the systems, process, and people challenges of scaling an inside sales team. Inside Sales is out-pacing field sales by a 10-15x ratio these days, so scalability is a common challenge to inside sales leaders. Don’t miss the webinar. Register here.

My job is to talk about the people angle – although a good half of my people suggestions are process suggestions! Allow me to highlight a few common pitfalls and a few additional resources to help you.

Pitfall #1: When you have a massive growth number, it will live or die in Rep ramp time (time to quota / paying for self / goal, however you define it). You’ll be creating projections to hit a 1.5x 3x or even 5x number and you’ll be doing it with headcount. That means your success hinges on the ability for your headcount to:

  • Be hired on time
  • Be trained on time
  • Hit goal on time

Tip: Really dig into your new hire training program, and start six months before your first hiring wave. Watch for signs of a broken onboarding program and take steps eight ways to whip your program into shape (*need link, did this get published on our blog or just salespop? I also want to put the link in the attachments of the webinar, so please send it to me when you have it!). Tip: hire a sales-focuces training leader NOW. Most new hire training programs need a LOT of work, and the good ones can cut your ramp time in HALF.

Pitfall #2: We don’t change our hiring process. Even if you on-boarded an awesome team that is with you today, don’t be fooled that you don’t need a few tweaks before pressure-testing your process for scale. We usually see it break in two ways:

  • The pool isn’t as deep any longer. We have a hiring crisis in our industry folks. Many companies stole great talent when they were new on the scene, but now they’re competing for headcount like everyone else. So even if the number of candidates / posting are similar you may find the depth of talent more shallow.
  • The hiring process wasn’t built for volume and is probably too dependent on your managers (but the slew of new hires on the floor will need them more too!). At launch these managers had all kinds of time to hire. If you triple your model (then double it for the shallow talent pool), how many hours / day will they be in interviews? Ouch.

Tip: Pull hiring out of HR – even if you need to re-appropriate a sales headcount. You need someone doing passive recruiting on the front end, AND who can really handle a phone screen for sales thereby freeing up your managers’ time. Final benefit? You can tie their compensation to the RIGHT hires and align your goals instead of fighting recruiting’s goal of straight-up bodies. I’ve seen way too many new hire classes filled with “live bodies” by recruiting only to have to re-hire that wave a month later. Sales leaders, make no mistake that this is how your hiring goals are perceived in a culture of scale.

Also check your hiring process. It should look like your pipeline with your managers involved only toward the final stages. Oh, and let them hire their own team, OK? (Managers, you can send your cash directly to the Factor 8 HQ for that tip).

Pitfall #3: Develop your Managers now. I’m watching a friend’s floor triple in size right now. They’re crazy-successful and swimming in leads. They need headcount to maximize the revenue. What they’re missing is strong leadership, definitions of what good looks like, and consistency among the management team. And folks, it’s being held together with duct tape and rainbows right now. These managers are soo (say it like a teenage girl) green. Everyone runs different reports, we all manage to a different sales process, there are seven disparate call methodologies, no one can forecast because pipelines are atrocious, teams are mixed and matched constantly (because managers are leaving the chaos!) and no two are managed the same. I’d say they’re all marching to a different drummer, but no one remembered to hire the drummer.

Tip: Hire a drummer. He is a series of documented processes (management cadence, performance improvement, sales handoffs, sales process to name a few) and then TEACH your managers how to execute against them. You and I both know these guys were reps five minutes ago. They need training. They need help being better bosses (or you’ll quickly wind up back at #1 hiring even more bodies). Reps join companies and quit bosses right? New managers are going to FLAIL in a rapid-growth environment, and your reps will be confused, frustrated, and complain about a lack of development – the number one reason reps leave. Check out this video for management training you need.

So, register for the webinar. It’ll be live on October 11th at 12:00pm EST. If you can’t make the live presentation, that’s okay. You’ll get the replay if you’ve registered.

ZoomInfo Summit 2017

Top 10 Takeaways From ZoomInfo Summit 2017

This was the second annual conference by ZoomInfo held at the Revere hotel in Boston. Honored as a speaker in the Sales track, I spent a lot of my time learning in the Marketing track. It is awesome to have these two tracks together in one conference. Naturally I also spent time at happy hours, making new friends, and heckling my speaker pals.

zoominfo summit 2017

Here are my top 10 takeaways:

  1. ZoomInfo nailed it with this conference. Amazing speakers, nearly no “pitch” talks from vendors, awesome food, plenty of learning options, fresh faces on stage, about 300 people, and time between sessions. It’s just what you’re looking for in a conference (oh yeah, and some free drinks. How was that not number one?). Side note: I love a “Medium” conference. With 350 – 750 attendees, every other person isn’t a vendor, the audience is well targeted, and it feels like a community vs. an overwhelming barrage. My other favorite BTW is the AA-ISP Leadership Conference.
  2. Seth Godin loves pop tarts and Star Trek. Who knew?
  3. Even though “hot trend” sessions like Ai and ABM are packed, when you talk with people 1:1, there are more people just trying to figure out consistent execution at the 101 level. Folks, make sure your sales conversations are good before hiring robots to get you more (that’s Ai right? JK).
  4. I can spot a sales person vs. a marketing person with 99% accuracy at a lunch table and 97% in an elevator.
  5. Dennis Dube is my new favorite person of 2017. I love finding uber smart and witty people. Bonus when there’s no ego and an eagerness to help others. Good to meet you buddy!
  6. Seth Godin teaches to market to the fringes. LB translation: let your freak flag fly and incorporate it in your message! That’s authentic and you’ll draw the right people to you – maybe even build a tribe.
  7. LB (who will liberally steal from Seth Godin here) says: Sell this way too! Don’t teach your people to sound like a professional sales call. We all hate these. The best calls are genuine, authentic, funny, engaging – REAL. Just one more reason that I hate scripts.
  8. SDR reps seriously need more love. Find ways to help these guys win and feel like a bad-ass at least once every day.
  9. The magic circle for marketing is Blog – SEO – and Social Media – all driving back to your website. This is why I’m writing a post-session blog.
  10. No conference is the same without Peter Weyman. Missed you buddy!

Where am I headed next? You can catch me on October 11th, 2017, co-hosting a webinar, 10 Ways To Scale Your Inside Sales Initiative. Come join me, Jeremy Wiggett, Senior Director Sales Development at Salesforce, and Chase Larson, Chief Technology Officer at SixPackShortcuts as we talk about processes, people, systems and implementation methods to achieve success in inside sales. Register here.

P.S. If you missed us at ZoomInfo, you can still get my inside sales bad-ass tips to share with your team. Get them here.

world class inside sales centers

8 Components of a World-Class New Sales Hire Onboarding Program

Been thinking that revenue targets would be easier to crush if your new hires would ramp up to speed more quickly? You’re spot-on, my friend.

Best-in-class onboarding (or new hire training) programs go well beyond the standard “Welcome to the company” orientation and dive into actual job training. But most programs stop after introducing reps to their new systems and product. This leaves reps on their own to figure out things like:

  • What do I do first?
  • How do I get people to call me back?
  • What do I say if they ask me X?

The result? Long ramp times, while they use experience to supplement what they could have been taught.

There will always be a ramp period. Our goal is to shorten it. Awesome new hire programs have been proven to cut new hire ramp-to-target in half (Training Magazine).

What is the right ramp time? Sorry for this, but it depends – on the talent you’re hiring in, your training program, and the complexity of your offering and sales cycle. But here are a few basic benchmarks:

Top business development (BDR, SDR) programs ramp reps before three months.

Account managers between three and six.

If your deals aren’t over $200K, your sales cycle over 6 months, and it’s taking your reps 6+ months to hit quota, your program probably needs some help.

I’ve been building and benchmarking new hire programs for the past fifteen years, and there are very few who don’t need help. Why?

World-Class New Sales Hire Onboarding Program

Most onboarding programs need help because trainers don’t get sales, and sellers don’t usually get training – it’s a sandbox thing.

A great program is a killer combination of both worlds. Incidentally, a great program can also shrink your rep attrition. Keep them longer, ramp them faster = this is worth your investment, sales leaders!

Here are eight signs of a World-class rep onboarding program (that you should steal immediately!)

1. Training is a process, not an event. Think of it as “Just-in-time training.” 100% classroom time is 1-2 weeks and then decreases gradually to once a month.

For example, a new hire is in full-time training for 2 weeks, but by week 4 they’re in class 2 hours a day and in week six 1 hour a day. By week 8 it’s one hour a week and by month three (and for the rest of their tenure!) they’re in training once a month.

This makes it critical to focus their first two weeks only on what they’ll need month one on the phone. Why? They’ll have no idea what they don’t know yet. That means you’ll graduate a team of super-confident bad-asses that can’t wait to get on the phones. Perfect. Want to learn more? Check out my video on building “Just in time” new hire training.

2. Use call recordings. This is my favorite tip. My theory on ramp is it will always be present because it isn’t the “what to do / say” that takes a long time to get. It’s the “when do I do it / say it” that takes experience to really nail. So shorten that by letting reps listen to call recordings. Nope, the recordings don’t have to be their own, and they shouldn’t all be great calls. Just typical. It’s like reviewing game tapes before the big game –breaking down what the other team (customer) is doing and when they should have used the right play (skill). Check out my LBTV video The Pause Game for more ideas.

3. All six critical components of the program are included and mixed together:

1. Systems & Tools – CRM, Intranet, Lead Management, etc.
2. Product / Service – be sure it’s “how to sell it” and not “the full history of it”
3. Sales – how to sell our products over the phone (not generic sales 101 field training!)
4. Process – how leads and orders get processed + rep and customers’ top 10 questions
5. Acumen – business acumen, industry acumen, and customer acumen – critical!
6. Manager integration – nope, lunch on day one isn’t enough. Get them more involved.

4. GET ON THE PHONES! (ASAP). If you can create an exercise where reps are calling current, potential, or even past customers by day two, do it! They can qualify leads, gather success stories, call cold leads – whatever! The right hires are itching to start calling, and the wrong hires will show reluctance and wash out. You’re welcome.

5. Less than 30% is e-learning. Sorry large organizations, I know it’s so tempting! But classroom- based training is still the most effective for a reason: You can’t practice selling with a computer! Also, how engaging is your new hire’s experience when they’re clicking forward 200 times a day? Painful.

6. Rigor. In my experience, a good 25% of every new hire class should not graduate training (yes, please be sure you’re hiring in groups, not “onesie-twosie”). When you really trust your training department, you’ll count on them to de-facto manage reps during training and coach them out the door if they won’t make it. Start, stop, and break times should be like real-life on the floor, and weekly tests let them know how they’re doing.

7. Training mimics the floor. Quick hit ways to do this:

a. You have a systems sandbox for training (a monthly-updated mirror image of all systems)
b. Phones and systems in the classroom for better role plays
c. Dummy accounts or even real (low scoring) accounts for practice
d. Call coaching or quality forms approved by sales leadership used for role plays / testing
e. Scenario-based testing (because when is a real client going to say, “A – send me a quote…B, schedule a call back…”?)

8. Don’t let HR teach reps how to sell. There’s a difference between regular company training and sales training. Aberdeen recently reported that 85% of best-in-class sales teams use a professional sales curriculum or trainer. What is good sales training? Check out my video here.

Overwhelmed? Here are a few easy ways to start:

Get to know your training ASAP. Pick your best sales leader and charge them with shortening ramp. Attend training, learn about good training, partner and assist your trainer with curriculum.

Get the reports. Sales numbers won’t show you class-by-class ramp times unless you specifically build it. Believe me, it’s worth it.

Close the loop. Are you reporting the top three skill gaps on the floor to training on a monthly or quarterly basis? Do you have the call coaching and rep meeting cadence in place to provide this?

Get some help. Spend the money to bring in a professional sales training leader, someone to fix your program, or a great sales training curriculum. When reps ramp faster and stay longer, you’ll wish you budgeted for this three years ago!

This post orignally appeared on SalesPop!

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His stet corpora nostrum in, eu vel soleat ancillae assueverit, eos at everti inermis. Cu assueverit ullamcorper nec. Cu admodum sententiae vis, pri delenit placerat iudicabit id. Duo ne liber primis, eu vel meis idque. Eum quis homero perfecto at, no vel quot probo. Mundi congue ei vel, ne vitae admodum noluisse ius, aeterno quaestio argumentum ut vel.

His stet corpora nostrum in, eu vel soleat ancillae assueverit, eos at everti inermis. Cu assueverit ullamcorper nec. Cu admodum sententiae vis, pri delenit placerat iudicabit id. Duo ne liber primis, eu vel meis idque. Eum quis homero perfecto at, no vel quot probo. Mundi congue ei vel, ne vitae admodum noluisse ius, aeterno quaestio argumentum ut vel.

His stet corpora nostrum in, eu vel soleat ancillae assueverit, eos at everti inermis. Cu assueverit ullamcorper nec. Cu admodum sententiae vis, pri delenit placerat iudicabit id. Duo ne liber primis, eu vel meis idque. Eum quis homero perfecto at, no vel quot probo. Mundi congue ei vel, ne vitae admodum noluisse ius, aeterno quaestio argumentum ut vel.

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His stet corpora nostrum in


eu vel soleat ancillae assueverit, eos at everti inermis. Cu assueverit ullamcorper nec. Cu admodum sententiae vis, pri delenit placerat iudicabit id. Duo ne liber primis, eu vel meis idque. Eum quis homero perfecto at, no vel quot probo. Mundi congue ei vel, ne vitae admodum noluisse ius, aeterno quaestio argumentum ut vel.His stet corpora nostrum in, eu vel soleat ancillae assueverit, eos at everti inermis. Cu assueverit ullamcorper nec. Cu admodum sententiae vis, pri delenit placerat iudicabit id.

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