Hubspot Sales Manager, Michael Pici wrote a solid list of “11 Skills Every Startup Sales Job Depends on to Survive.” Let’s use these skills as reps and leaders to build sustainable results.
My 3 favorite skills are:
Embrace and be comfortable with change:
As the New Hire Trainer at Trulia, I told every class that change was inevitable and if they couldn’t get comfortable with it, they might as well leave right now. Though I never had anyone walk out, it can be shocking to many reps when they catch the reality of the rapid nature of startup change. From new quotas to a new boss, from weekly product iterations to a new strategic direction, the second you get comfortable, you’re pulled into a huddle to reveal a shocking update (e.g. IPO, buyout, formal sales training, new product launch). This is enough to make startup sales attrition a constant threat as many green reps can’t handle the ready, fire, aim approach and fail to perform consistently. So what the hell do you do to prepare a rep for change? Just as we pre-empt objections, it’s important to pre-empt reps nerves by actively coaching them through the change. First of all, make it a positive part of the culture and create themes for your large change initiatives, so it’s easier to get on board. Strategize and create talk tracks that eliminate as much uncertainty as possible. Help your team see change as an opporunity for growth and give them a place to land. If I have a glimpse of my destination, I’m much more likely to be a champion. Help them be agile.
Take a consultative approach:
Early in a startup’s history, it’s often tempting to be transactional. We hear reps leading with their “pitch” and call it building value. They’re so eager to tell prospects about our innovative new solution that they abandon the sales process and fire away at the mouth. Usually reps ask 1 or 2 questions, then go. No matter the instinct, you will see a considerable increase in deals and closed revenue when you help your reps master the sales process and stop skipping steps. In later posts I’ll dive into the BEARS Sales Process to help you and your team control sales conversations with a consultative approach from start to finish.
Have tough negotiation chops:
When we first build a sales team of new reps we are tempted to offer discounts to increase order velocity. Yet this is a mistake, because the reps become programmed to sell based on price and form bad long-term habits. They immediately drop the price by 25, 50 or 75% at the first sign of an objection. Reps become desperate and feel, in order to close deals they must sell based on price and discounts. They forget about adding more value and sharpening their negotiation skills to replace discounts with uncovering the urgency of buying now. Simply put, stop focusing on discounts and help your team develop a stronger belief in your company, product, solution and the reason your prospect MUST get started now! Focus on the consequences of stalling and you’ll command the full value of your offering. Do training drills to help reps overcome at least 3-4 specific objections before dropping the price! Replace nervous discounting with sharper negotiating skills!
Agile, Consultative and Negotiator. Those are three characteristics of a top rep I would love to have on my team.
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