A Day in the Life of Your Sales Reps

,

sales rep day in the life Slay_HuffGet a perspective on a day in the life of your sales rep team with Slay Huff.

Slay is CommercialTribe’s Business Development Manager, helping to drive the team’s scheduled visits and front-line sales strategy. CommercialTribe’s Business Development team is designed like a Sales Development or “scheduling” team, a vital role in ensuring that the right messaging and insights reach a prospect and that the team articulates value. Slay has worked with CommercialTribe for a year, the first member of a rapidly growing sales team. You can connect with Slay on Twitter and LinkedIn.

My morning always starts with coffee, but not too long after that, my focus turns to conversing with my prospects. They are essential to me hitting my goal, so it makes sense to place my attention on them first. Research seems to agree that prospects are most receptive before they get into their day, so getting in touch with them over a call or email first thing is vital. At the same time, I’ll check back over my other prospects in Salesforce and make sure that I’ve been in touch with them recently. My hope is to strike a balance of professional persistence.

Just before lunch, prospecting starts. We break it down by a lot of different buckets: role, location, industry. That helps us make sure that our messaging actually sticks with the exact person we contact and has value. A big part of prospecting is planning this out ahead of time, and we use the pre-lunch downtime to work together and align as a BDM team. We track it all in Salesforce, HubSpot, and latelt, ToutApp. Lunch is pretty simple, an Illegal Pete’s burrito.

I like to end the day like I started it. The afternoon is spent reviewing recent messages and prospects, seeing how I can reach back out and strike up a conversation. There’s never a bad time to have the right conversation.

sales rep day in the life - 2

The weekly plan follows a similar kind of setup: segmenting, developing impactful messaging, and equal time spent actually making interactions. We segment heavily, focus on the best outreach times, identify pain points, read breaking market research and news, and engage with prospects on social, and with a few custom SFDC fields, we can get this all automatically. The more I can do to develop my own skills and drive more insightful conversations, the better. We also do a weekly practice SpotCheck with CommercialTribe, alongside Upskilling exercises.

I really have two goals at CommercialTribe. The first is the business goal – engineering to the number. Our team doesn’t succeed unless we build out our pipeline. Personally, I want to develop the skills and knowledge to have value adding conversations that reshape an individual’s thinking. The most important part is just persistence – getting there takes time and effort.

To get there, I practice. I tend to relate everything to sports, and practice makes sense – I think athletics provides an interesting perspective into sales. There are plenty of different ways to practice – by myself, with the team, even in the game – but in order to earn that right to actually play, I have to put the work in ahead of time. It’s the same thing in sales. If I want to get on the phone and sell, I need to put in the time to perfect my skills.

sales rep day in the life - 3

The same goes for new insights and messages. Things change pretty quickly, especially at CommercialTribe, and we often have to fit new messaging into our conversations. Usually, I watch what our VP Sales, Jonathan Palay, does before I try it out myself. If it works for him, I know it can work for our team. I’ll start to put it into my call strategy, test it out, and adjust it until it works or fails. I really view myself in the sales team as an individual contributor, with the goal of aiding the Sales Directors and ensuring they get into the right places within the right organizations to drive CommercialTribe forward.

Above all, the most important thing in my role is what I take to prospects. I rarely get a second chance – there are no do-overs in sales. There is no other time to relate value to someone outside of that first 30 seconds. I have to be well prepared with the right messages and right timing to make it resonate, and that’s challenging. If I can get it right, we can hit the number and make something great.

Jumpstarting a Stalled Product Launch

,

Recently, we spoke with a company with what appears to be a common problem. Working together, their sales and marketing teams designed a new product launch and set realistic expectations and goals for its success. Collateral and messaging reached the sales team, and launch plans were in place for months. Yet, when the new product went to market, the launch didn’t meet expectations.

stalled product launch jumper_cable_salesMonths later, the company decided to reintroduce the product with a new approach.

What went wrong? Even with significant product planning, reps failed to carry the message into the market. Many reverted to their old way of doing things and didn’t present the new message at all.

This “last mile,” where reps bear the responsibility of passing messaging on to prospects, can often be the missing link that holds back your product launch. Reps want to sell and, given the right knowledge, share exciting new launches with their prospects. Yet, they often struggle to adopt complex new features, messaging, and solutions and place them into context in their messaging. With the pressure to sell constant, anything less than a formal, progressive learning curriculum will often fall short. While not necessarily your reps’ fault, they ultimately drive the new product’s fate.

Rather than wasting the investments made into the new product, finding a way to reintroduce it to the market and drive a stronger ROI is more efficient. Thankfully, returning value on a failed product launch requires the exact same process that can help ensure pre-launch alignment and success: a sales product and service go-to-market process.

stalled product launch go-to-marketThe product and service go-to-market process pairs frontline reps and managers with the needed certification, benchmarking, and ongoing learning and engagement they need to effectively take new lines to market. When used as part of a launch, a firm process can help ensure that reps present effective messaging to prospects, become experts on the offerings and solution, and even effectively break the status quo.

Restarting a product launch parallels the process for a new product launch: since the goals are the same, the process is the same. The main elements are a cohesive, progressive curriculum, a targeted result, and a message that can be delivered and reinforced to the team.

Progressive Curriculum

The core of any product launch is a curriculum that ramps reps into experience and mastery of the message and product. Even before the message is developed, a strategic plan for rolling out the new features and messaging to reps is crucial for that message to actually be impactful. Deliberate practice, either virtual or in-person, allows reps to try the messaging on for size before they need to deliver it. Do you think your sales team will do something different in front of a customer if they’re not comfortable? Some will, but most, unfortunately, will not.

Message

No product launch can truly be successful without a message that sales can take to prospects. Like core brand messaging, specific product messages relate the company and solutions to prospects in a way that starts with the problem that product solves…not with features and benefits. Successful reps are aligned and conversational in core messaging when they drive conversions because they are both able to steer a conversation and leave a lasting impression. Even with a previous product launch, a review of existing messaging can be transformational in the reintroduction of a line – reps will find more to speak to and more to relate to, and thus will do a better job of learning and applying the message.

Goals

Outside of the business results driving a product launch, marketing (and thus sales) has its own goals for a new line. The effectiveness of the messaging and the conversion rate on the new product are all common points, but the focus point of any new launch should be on message alignment. While message alignment alone may not indicate success or performance, “Marketing typically has a better handle on the overall battle plan,” according to the AMA, and can correlate rep impact with product success. When a firm alignment in place, it becomes easier for Marketers to know when to change course, if needed, and also to amplify investments where they work best.

While the actual messages and strategy will vary from company to company, all successful B2B product launches share one thing in common: reps were able to effectively sell them. When the team responsible for selling hits their goals, marketing ultimately succeeds.

Request a Demo

3 Skills Every World-Class Sales Manager Needs To Succeed

,

How much training does a sales manager on your team receive to make sure they’re successful as a manager.

Sales Manager-Video_Practice

Reps get a lot of the focus when it comes to training, and that makes sense – your reps are out each day, manning the phones and scheduling the visits you need to hit sales goals. If they fail to articulate value, they cannot effectively convert leads and drive new sales. Peer mentoring, deliberate practice, and even kickoff helps them refocus and get it right. The sales manager is largely left out of the training budget.

But who’s responsible for your reps?

Your frontline sales managers have the toughest job in any sales organization. While on the surface their job appears straightforward, i.e. hit the number, the role actually has three layers.

Ask yourself which of your sales managers resemble these three personas:

1) Sales Stars – previously were top sellers who could jump into any deal and help it to close

2) Pipeline Managers – focus on pipeline inspection and love to strategize on a deal

3) Coaches – are all about training and development to empower their teams to be successful

More often than not, managers most closely resemble one of these personas, but the best managers are good at all three. If your managers are not hitting all three sectors, then you’ve got a training problem that, if not addressed, will create inconsistencies and inefficiencies throughout the sales organization. If you haven’t addressed these three personas, now may be the time to put in place a more comprehensive training program for sales managers.

Getting sales manager alignment is critically important when introducing new messaging. Reps are typically the focus, because they will be out in the field most often delivering, but to drive reinforcement, you need your managers to inspect and coach to the standard you’ve set. Even with peer mentoring, reps need a firm, best practice example to compare themselves against. Research by the Corporate Executive Board suggests that managers are the glue that stands in between executive sales initiatives and rep-level adoption, thus serving as the single force most impactful in an initiative’s success. If your sales managers do not get aligned on new concepts, reps simply will have no way of naturally aligning themselves.

How does it work? Like training for new hires and tenured reps, sales managers need their own program with the particulars of their role in mind. While basic elements of selling can be assumed, incoming Sales Managers will likely not have insights into specific messaging or products. A good curriculum will rapidly introduce the existing messaging program, products, and sales strategy, while also making clear what managers need to know to meet goals.

When designing any training program, be sure to include your sales managers in the playbook. Not only will you have an ally in driving adoption and alignment, but will also develop a team capable of hitting the number across the cycle.

How do you align your sales managers?

Request a Demo

6 Reasons Your Product Introduction Process is Failing

If your growth strategy requires the introduction of new products and services and/or enhancements, you need a well-thought-out product introduction process.

On the surface, it seems simple enough to update the sales team and expect they will effectively deliver the message into the market. If it’s so easy, then why do so many new product launches miss the mark?

While any number of issues can stall a product or service launch, including glitches, the wrong features, or pure timing, most errors in a new product introduction are internal and can be solved. Developing a healthy sales and marketing balance within your organization can not only guarantee strong cohesion between a product launch and those selling it but also help bolster a successful introduction.

Six common issues can take your new product launch off track.

#1 Marketing talks about features; Sales talks about solutions

The type of information about a new product being passed between marketing and sales can often be the culprit in a failed launch. If the information delivered to the sales team only covers what the product does, and not how it solves a prospect’s problem, the chances of the launch failing rise.

Build communication channels that get at both goals. Sales needs use cases, case studies, and solutions to effectively break the status quo with prospects. Yet, marketing can primarily need features and technologies to make the case. Adapt to both sides and your sales team will thank you.

#2 No messaging alignment

Along with delivering only features, not developing an aligned message for a new product can be just as catastrophic. Without one clear message, developed in tandem with the needs of the sales team, chances are that reps will simply develop their own form of the messaging, leaving every member of the team saying something different.

Develop one message that reps must master and deliver to maximize the effectiveness of the message itself. While the message does not have to necessarily cater to the particulars of every sale, having a firm basis to drive the conversation increases the chances of getting it right and diagnosing problems.

#3 No conversations with the sales team

Part of the lack of cohesion between sales and marketing comes simply from a lack of conversation: sales and marketing don’t have the right process by which to communicate. By ensuring the lines of communication are open between marketing and the front lines, you increase the odds of creating the connective tissue that leads to successful product launches.

Set up whatever it takes to make the connection. For some organizations, this comes in the form of weekly meetings or monthly groups. For others, marketing physically sits within the sales team. FInd the right blalance to strike understanding.

#4 Complexity

Even with necessarily complex products, a product that is overly challenging for sales reps to master will be even harder to sell. Reps need some mechanism for internalizing a perspective on complex products, including how they should be sold as part of an overall solution. This can take the form of deliberate practice or a “market ready,” short description that reps can use to position the new message. The easier the process is for reps to integrate a new launch into their selling habits, the more likely it is that the product will succeed.

A bonus benefit to less complex messaging is an increased chance that prospects will more readily understand it, lowering sales cycle time and reducing pressure on reps.

#5 No clear territory

Who is responsible for selling a new product? Who has to deliver to the product revenue goal? Without clear ownership of responsibility over a product launch, no marketing effort can succeed. While marketing is not generally tasked with a quota or sales expectation directly, a failed product launch means a negative result for both teams. Be sure to identify who is responsible for delivering success, and provide them with the right resources to reach it. Be sure to line up your business results and sales goals.

#6 No clear goal

While sales will have their own goals regarding product launches, it is important that marketing also track what marks success for a new line. Simple goals can include pipeline growth, number of units sold or increase in average selling price. More complex goals look at product profitability and help to tease out whether the business investments are paying off.

Request a Demo