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“Bob intends to social-listen his way to sales glory in Q4.”

Technical-founder CEO’s may not understand how to build a world-class sales team, but they have spidey-sense enough to know that a silent sales floor is cause for concern.

What they may not realize (and what you’ve probably tried to explain) is that a lot of magic can happen off the phone– magic that didn’t exist when Giovanni Ribisi was pounding the phones in Jersey, and Jack Lemmon was stealing those strong Glengarry leads.

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Data is king. But it’s not everything.

In this new era of SaaS sales, a big part of the game is hunting down data for your ICP and engaging through email cadences, marketing automation, SEM, social listening, content marketing, free trials, and whatever else Ken Krogue or Kyle Porter is building for us to find and engage prospects. And all of these are off-the-phone activities. Silent activities. Time consuming activities. Important activities.

But here’s the problem.

And why your CEO’s instincts are probably right.

Despite having built a great platform and great user experience, despite having tremendous product-market-fit– good CEO’s know that it’s a big freakin’ decision to buy this thing. That’s why they built it, because it replaces/improves a significant business process. And that’s a painful decision.

So it’s not just the lack of buzz on the floor that makes the CEO nervous– it’s that they aren’t hearing the confrontation, the tension, the hard conversations that literally must happen in order to get the biggest, baddest deals across the finish line. Sure, deals may be coming in on the silent floor. Even the beachcomber snags a Rolex from time to time.

And hey, if the platform solves an important enough problem, there will always be some layups, laydowns, referrals, repeat buyers (all that second order revenue). But the really big, complex, disruptive deals…those aren’t closing on the silent floor.

So let’s get loud, right? Let’s crack the whip and get the team pounding the phones!

Man, I wish it were that simple.

As it turns out, when silence is the symptom of a low-revenue sales floor, more noise ain’t the cure.

If AE’s aren’t on the phone, it’s not just not because they fell in love with Salesloft or Hootsuite. It’s because they aren’t driving a sales process– they don’t have defined next steps to get it closed. They literally can’t pick up the phone, because they don’t know what to say next. Their pipeline is just a mess of maybes. And that’s the BIG problem with the silent sales floor.

By any means necessary

If you really want to turn up the volume on your sales floor, then teach your team how to lead a sales process from start to finish. That’s when it gets noisy.

Do whatever it takes to get a sales process blueprint mapped out for your team. Hire a director of sales from SFDC. Send the team to sales boot camp. Pay for Sandler training. Anything. Just get them to lead a process. Every step. Every stage. Open to close.

If they know how to do that, and they have a comp plan worth hustling for, then I guarantee your floor will buzz. That’s it.

“A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” -Timothy Ferriss

Preston Clark runs sales and marketing for LawRoom, a SaaS-based employee training company that delivers data security, anti-harassment, and other customizable conduct courses for leading tech companies and universities.

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2 comments

  1. Sasha

    Thank you, Preston! This article perfectly describes the fear I’ve had around quieter sales teams and my internal dialogue about whether that’s good, bad or irrelevant.

    Do you have any recommendations for a sales bootcamp or what would be included in one?

    1. Preston Clark

      Hey Sasha,

      Thanks for the feedback!

      I don’t know if sales bootcamp is really a thing or not (maybe we should start one!), but the point I wanted to make there was that you need to teach your team a sales process– and how to LEAD one. There are a number of ways to go about doing that and no shortage of sales consultants who can help. In my personal experience, the best way to start that processes (on your own) is by building sales playbook for your team. The building of that document is a great exercise for sales leaders that forces us to evaluate the various stages of our unique sales process and how to lead it. Here’s a good resource from OpenView Labs on how to build a playbook: http://labs.openviewpartners.com/sales-playbook-tips/

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