Matt Millen is the Senior Vice President of Revenue Operations at Outreach. He has been in the sales world for 30 years, during which he constructed and implemented company strategy, defined customer experience, and managed the sales process at organizations such as T-Mobile, Anthony “Tony” Robbins Companies, and Gateway Computers.
Over the course of his career, Matt has witnessed the introduction of an array of new technology. From email and the internet to today’s assortment of SaaS platforms, each new innovation brought changes to the selling process, forcing sellers to learn and adapt. However, Matt believes that one principle has remained consistent throughout: the most excellent sellers are those who can construct a story with soul.
I sat down with Matt to discuss his perspective on developing a sales team that tells compelling stories and cultivating an environment of sales excellence—and how other companies can do the same.
Kristin McLerran: So, I know it’s a big topic, but let’s just start off with a definition: what does Sales Excellence mean to you?
Matt Millen: Sales Excellence means you predictably hit your number. If you run a tight shop, at the end of the day you should have a team that predictably hits their number. It’s hard to be excellent if you miss your number.
There are three components that go into excellence: S.A.M.
The first component, S, stands for Story. On an excellent sales team, everyone is able to articulate the story. Excellent teams have stories that are engaging, fun, and based on customer experiences. A great story is what gives salespeople soul. And customers don’t buy scripts—customers buy soul.
The second component of sales excellence is Activity. Every single team member must have exceptional activity levels. Your SDRs are making a certain number of phone calls, emails, and social touches every single day. Your Account Executives are lining up meetings, putting opportunities into the pipeline, and then progressing their pipeline, etc.
The third component is mindset. Mindset is the psychological health of the sales team and organization. Do the sales reps feel unstoppable as they take on the new day? Can they handle any objection, any rejection, and build rapport with ease? Do they feel like the company has their back?
KM: You’ve been in the business for 30 years. How has the sales industry changed and how has the process of selling changed over the course of your career?
MM: Well, I started selling in 1987. The internet and email didn’t exist, you didn’t have computers to close deals, and phones were still attached to the wall. There was no CRM. But what has changed beyond technology was the relationship with the customer.
In 1987 if you were a buyer, you learned about stuff in three ways: 1. You read direct mail, 2. You went to tradeshows, or 3. You talked to a sales rep. There was still a really strong relationship between the buyer and the seller, because the buyer and seller needed each other.
But as technology found its way into the selling process, the buyer could just go online and learn. The information was out there for everybody, so the buyer could get 50 or 60% of the way through the buying process before even talking to a seller. The buyer became better at buying before the seller became better at selling, and the seller struggled to provide value and reinsert himself into the process.
To counteract this, technology started to work its way into the sales stack. Tools were designed to help sellers use signals, triggers, psychographics, and firmographics to more successfully prospect. And so we saw the return of balance, in which the seller re-emerged into the process.
However, what stands the test of time is S.A.M. Regardless of the fluctuations between the buyer and the seller in the selling relationship, you always have to have excellent fundamentals.
Check out Part Two of this conversation, in which Matt and I discuss how and why companies fail to predictably hit their number.
– – – – – –
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.