Today we return to the conversation with Matt Millen, Outreach’s Senior Vice President of Revenue Operations, on sales excellence. In Part One of this conversation, we discussed that although the selling process has changed over time, consistently and predictably hitting your number continues to encompass sales excellence.
In today’s conversation, Matt expands upon the three pillars of excellence (story, activity, and mindset), provides examples from his own career, and theorizes about the reasons companies fail to achieve sales excellence. Because in spite of the assortment of tools available today, 50% of all sales teams will fail to hit quota this year. Matt and I delve into why this is an issue and how sales leaders can begin to eliminate it–and why less is still sometimes more.
Kristin McLerran: Let’s start off the second part of this conversation with an example. When have you seen a company or a sales leader achieve sales excellence during your career?
Matt Millen: At my previous company, whenever we rolled out a new story, we would hold a contest with the reps across the country. All of our sales teams competed to present the best version of that story. After competing on a regional and divisional basis, the 6 winners from the different divisions would come into the home office and tell their story in front of the highest-level executive leadership at the company. The two best stories were taken and posted on the intranet and received a huge prize. We wanted to make the story a big deal, and we also wanted our reps to have a lot of fun with it. The competition really gamified the process to get the story into our DNA.
KM: So what do you think prevents teams from predictably hitting their number?
MM: Let’s start with the symptoms of that failure. 50% of all sales reps will miss their number this year, 60% of sales rep’s days are spent in a non-selling motion, and 99% of all leads don’t actually go anywhere.
So why will some be unable to achieve excellence in sales? Because they have failed to construct the three pillars of excellence: the ability to tell a well-crafted story, to create a sales environment where people are doing enough of that storytelling all day long to generate enough activity and to develop a winning team in the mind. Some teams are losing deals before they even hit the field. Missing one or more of these pillars makes it extremely difficult for teams to predictably hit their number.
KM: So, now that we understand your definition, the reasons for failure, and have an example of sales excellence, how can companies achieve it?
MM: It always goes back to S.A.M.
You first need to equip your team with a great story. Once that story has been constructed, there has to be deliberate effort to get that story into the hands of salespeople–get them trained on it, to roleplay it, to make the story a living, breathing entity in and of itself. It has to be infused into sales.
You know you have a great story when it has emotion and moves prospects into taking action. And to create that, your whole team needs to be able to tell that same story, but in their own voice. Your sellers should be able to use their various experiences to add uniqueness and soul to that core story.
As far as activity, we now live in a world of automation. Some activity can be offloaded into platforms like Outreach, which allow reps to be more efficient and effective, giving them more time back in their day to actually sell.
Mindset has to be healthy through it all. Sales leaders now set their reps up for excellence by providing teams with the tools to operate at a peak level.
There is, of course, technology nowadays that helps you excel in each of these pillars of sales excellence. There are call recording tools that use AI to analyze the stories you’re telling in real time, providing insights into the language and success rate of the story you’re telling.Then there is Outreach, which accelerates the sales process so that reps can produce more sales activity and enables leadership to monitor performance and develop best practices. And in a lot of ways mindset is managed by technology too, because investing in tools shows reps that leaders are willing to invest in their success.
However, it is important to remember that having more tools isn’t necessarily better than having less. It’s about choosing a quality sales stack over quantity; and that may mean finding one or two tools that can do it all. Outreach, for example, is designed to eliminate the most exhaustive parts of sales–such as manually logging every activity in your CRM–which in turn gives reps more time to develop their storytelling and positive headspace. Choose the tools that empower your reps and simplify their process, so that sales excellence feels constantly within their grasp.
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Our mission at Outreach is to make sure sales teams predictably hit their number. We are passionate about sales excellence and delivering the best sales engagement platform in the industry. But technology is just a part of the solution. Delivering sales excellence involves strategy, process, and a new way of thinking.
We’re incredibly excited to announce Unleash, the conference for sales excellence. In June 2017 Outreach will gather with over 250 of the most forward-thinking sales leaders in the industry, the people who are pushing the boundaries every day and charting the course to the next era of selling. Unleash is the perfect opportunity to connect with like-minded leaders, gain new insights into sales excellence, and learn techniques for unleashing your inner sales hero.
Passionate about sales excellence? Join us at Unleash and become a part of the movement.