18 Quick Sales Resources for Startups

These past few weeks have been focused on sales — the life blood of every successful startup. Here are the recent sales posts:

  1. Four Types of Sales Reps
  2. Getting to “Wow” in the Sales Process
  3. Sales Team Challenges When Scaling
  4. Territories vs Wide Open for Sales Teams
  5. Make Body Language Your Superpower
  6. Benchmarking Sales Development Reps
  7. The Different Meeting Rhythms in Sales
  8. Analyzing the Sales Opportunity Pipeline
  9. Mining the Sales Opportunity History for Insights
  10. The Sales Ops Role – Operational Rigor for the Sales Team
  11. Hire a Sales Assistant First
  12. The Best Sales Demos are Conversations
  13. Mapping Out the Sales Stages
  14. Discovery Calls – A Critical Part of the Sales Process
  15. Notes from Trenton Truitt’s Presentation on MEDDICC
  16. MEDDICC Forecasting Methodology
  17. The Success Plan Google Doc for Sales
  18. Testing Potential Demand By Being an SDR

Sales is critical, yet foreign, to most startup founders. Put in the time and effort to learn it — it’s worth it.

What else? What are some more sales topics to cover?

Four Types of Sales Reps

Predictable Revenue laid the ground work for sales development and the rise of sales engagement software. The author, Aaron Ross, outlined a more modern, predictable function of appointment setters on the sales team, as separate from the closing team. In the book, he outlines four types of functions on the sales team.

Here are the four types of sales reps in startups:

  • Market Response Rep – Qualifies and nurtures inbound leads that are handed off to an account executive once engaged in the sales cycle (one rep can handle approximately 400 inbound leads per month)
  • Outbound Sales Development Rep – Cold calls and emails potential prospects and nurtures them until they are ready for an account executive (one rep should generate 10-20 qualified leads per month)
  • Account Manager – Manages the relationship with existing customers and continually looks for ways to add more value
  • Account Executive / Sales Rep – Carries a quota and is responsible for taking leads engaged in the buying process through to close and hand-off

Early in the startup lifecycle, it’s common to have “full stack” sales reps that do both the appointment setting and deal closing. Then, as the startup grows, more specialization emerges. Look for these four types of sales reps.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the four types of sales reps?

Getting to “Wow” in the Sales Process

At Pardot, we’d work hard to get marketers to a web demo, through cold calling and typical B2B marketing campaigns, as we knew there was one “wow” or “magic moment” that really made the value of the product apparent. David Skok calls it the “wow” in Creating a Wow Moment.

Our Pardot wow: showing a marketer their own activity history in Pardot via a screen share. When marketers saw how all their digital fingerprints (clicks, opens, page views, etc.) were captured, and made actionable to both sales and marketing, they immediately wanted that functionality for their own team.

Here are a few questions to ask:

  • What’s the “wow” in your product?
  • How hard is it to show the “wow” to a prospect?
  • Where is “wow” currently shown in the sales process?
  • How can the “wow” be delivered sooner?

Entrepreneurs would do well to think through the feature in their product that is most powerful and exciting to prospects — the “wow” — and work to deliver that to prospects as quickly as possible.

What else? What are some more thoughts on getting to “wow” in the sales process?

Sales Team Challenges When Scaling

Continuing with yesterday’s post on Territories vs Wide Open for Sales Teams, one of the points mentioned was that with territories, as the team scales, the assigned geography for each sales rep shrinks (more reps equals more sub dividing of territories). As expected, many challenges arise as the sales team scales. Here are a few to consider:

  • Sales Reps to Management – The top sales reps often don’t make the best sales managers (different skill set and personality traits). As the team grows, it’s important to set expectations around the path to management and build management training programs.
  • Downward Lead Volume Per Rep – The size of the sales team often grows faster than the volume of qualified leads such that the number of leads per rep goes down over time.
  • Hiring Standards – It’s hard to find great sales people. As pressure is applied for hitting an overall team quota, there’s a tendency to lower hiring standards to get more people in the door. Don’t do it.
  • Undoing Special Arrangements – Special sales rep arrangements like owning certain reseller relationships or getting a slightly different commission for certain deals become problematic as the team grows and more specialized functions are implemented (like a channel program).
  • Adding Process – Some reps that thrive during the free-for-all early startup stage don’t make it as the organization hits the growth stage and adds more process. It’s not that one stage is better or worse. Rather, it’s important to connect the right personalities with the right stage of the company.

Scaling a sales team is hard, especially with the pressure from different stakeholders like investors. Know that there are many challenges scaling a sales team and these are just a few of them.

What else? What are some more challenges scaling a sales team?

Territories vs Wide Open for Sales Teams

At Pardot, we built the sales team to almost 30 people before the exit and never had territories (everything was inside sales). Our model was wide open with simple round robin lead assignment based on two different queues (one based on leads from the test drive form and one based on leads from all other forms). When I talk to entrepreneurs about their sales strategy, territories are commonplace. Naturally, we had internal debates about the pros and cons of territories vs wide open.

Here are a few thoughts on territories vs wide open:

  • With wide open, sales reps get an equal number of qualified leads as company lead volume ebbs and flows
  • With territories, sales reps get a reduced geography as the sales team grows, potentially resulting in morale issues
  • With wide open, there’s a constant tension around the rules of engagement for stale leads (we made it so that if a lead hadn’t been engaged in six weeks, it was fair game)
  • With territories, sales reps that are primarily inside have a better opportunity to meet with multiple prospects on the occasional trip to their territory as well as attend regional events

The growth of inside sales is causing entrepreneurs to rethink the traditional territory approach and look for ways to make sales more efficient. Entrepreneurs would do well to evaluate both the territories approach as well as the wide open approach.

What else? What are some more thoughts on territories vs wide open for sales teams?

Video of the Week: Make Body Language Your Superpower

Continuing with our recent sales theme, our video of the week is from Stanford titled Make Body Language Your Superpower. Enjoy!

From YouTube: Making Body Language Your Superpower – an instructional video on using body language effectively. Presented by Stanford graduate students Matt Levy, Colin Bailie, Jeong Joon Ha, and Jennifer Rosenfeld. Created as an exemplary final project in Lecturer JD Schramm’s Strategic Communication course in March 2014. Body language – both the speaker’s and the audience’s – is a powerful form of communication that is difficult to master, especially if the speaker is nervous. This video will teach you how to use your body language effectively, even if you are nervous. This video will also show you how to read the audience’s body language and what you should do when they look bored or disconnected from the presentation. Use these tools to enhance your nonverbal communication abilities and better connect with your audiences.

Benchmarking Sales Development Reps

After talking to a number of entrepreneurs that are getting value out of their sales development rep (SDR) team (especially when using SalesLoft Cadence), a common question comes up: what are some SDR benchmarks? Entrepreneurs want to know where they are in relation to average, and areas to improve.

Here are a few questions to benchmark the sales development reps:

  • What’s the average number of successes (demos, appointments, meetings, etc.) per rep per month?
  • What’s the ratio of demos/appointments scheduled to completed (e.g. how many people don’t show up)?
  • What’s the average number of calls per day?
  • What’s the average ratio of calls to connects (calls that result in talking to someone)?
  • What’s the average ratio of positive conversations to calls?
  • What’s the average ratio of voicemails left to calls?
  • What’s the average number of emails per day?
  • What’s the average ratio of email opens to emails sent?
  • What’s the average ratio of email clicks to emails sent?
  • What’s the average ratio of email replies to emails sent?

While I don’t have the benchmarks (yet), I’m sure we’ll be seeing them soon. Look for more data to emerge as the sales engagement industry grows.

What else? What are some more questions to ask around benchmarking sales development reps?