*Editors Note: Max Altschuler is the founder and CEO of the Sales Hacker Conference and SalesHacker.com. This article is on hacks revealed at recent Sales Hacker Conferences.
Hack #1: “Become a Hero Maker” – Farlan Dowell – VP of Sales, Upsight
*Remember to keep your champion uppermost in your mind when dealing with corporate buyers. Your champion cares more about themselves individually than he or she does about their company. Often their highest priority is their salary, not equity or stock like you may have. Make your champion look good to their boss. Be sure to provide the tools they need to sell upwards. Make them a hero.
Hack #2: “On a scale of 1 to 10” – Orla Moran – Director of Sales EMEA, NewRelic
*There’s a saying that the second best answer is No. Knowing where you stand is incredibly important in a high velocity sales org. Using the phrase “on a scale from 1-10” helps you figure out how close a person is to making a decision. The decision maker’s score also helps you understand how far along you are so you can react accordingly.
For example, by asking the question “from a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to make a decision by Friday?” you’ll understand how hard you should push for that outcome based on their answer. It’s a lot harder for the decision maker to brush you off when you use this phrase politely.
Hack #3: “Give new hires a few slow pitch softballs” – Kyle Porter – CEO, Salesloft
*Often, new hires step into roles where things are a mess or they have deals in their queue that might not close for months. If possible, line up a few easy deals to build up their confidence and show what a win feels like. A quick success helps a new hire get up to speed quicker and helps create a sales culture that’ll keep your reps fighting through the inevitable slumps.
Hack #4: “Sales is a mix of Art and Science. Finding the reason and the right time to connect makes all the difference.” – John Barrows – CEO, John Barrows Sales Training
*Use public info on social media like Linkedin and Twitter, or an app like GageIn, to find triggers that allow you to reach out using valid information at precisely the right time. Triggers include job changes, fundraising, positive press, etc.
Hack #5: “Make sure you’ve created a polarizing message” – David Priemer VP of Sales, Salesforce
*When creating a message for prospects, consider the big problem you’re solving, the universal issue you’re improving, and the target of your solution.
•ex. #1 “Sales Rep attrition costs your company millions”
•ex. #2 “Happy customers are your best sales reps”
•ex. #3 “Accounting software for non-accountants”
Hack #6: “Persistence is the key to being a top rep” – Jake Dunlap – CEO, Skaled
*Once you’ve started to prospect, follow up until you have an answer, no matter how many touches it takes. Hubspot’s study found it took 9 touches to reach the point of diminishing returns. Set a date and time and make a very clear ask. If you believe you have the right person, stay on top of them.
Hack #7: “Hire the right VP of Sales for the current stage of your company” – Jason Lemkin – Partner, Storm Ventures
*Don’t make the mistake of hiring the wrong person too early or too late at your company. According to Jason, 70% of SaaS VP of Sales don’t make it 12 months. He attributes this to companies not hiring a stage-appropriate VP of Sales.
Hack #8: “Outsourcing prospecting can save you more than $76 per appointment set” – Jaspar Weir – CEO, TaskUs
*SDRs are expensive and should be spending their time on the phones, not setting up appointments. The skill set required to set appointment can be outsourced, and costs significantly less than the $60K per year and overhead/benefits to pay a good SDR. Let your high value employees do the high value work.
Hack #9: “Salespeople should behave like mini marketers” – Tawheed Kader – CEO, ToutApp
*Salespeople are able to do some much more in less time with all of the new technology available to them. Technology allows the rep to share relevant content their prospects might find valuable at scale. (This hack goes along with John Barrow’s hack that you should always have a reason to reach out and provide value.)
Hack #10: “Make sure to sell the opportunity during the sales process. You may not want every interviewee to work for you, but you want everyone to want to work for you.” – Carolyn Betts – CEO, Betts Recruiting
*This is a key concept all interviewers should understand. Don’t forget to sell the potential employee on working for your company, even if you don’t end up hiring them. Turn a job prospects into evangelists and it opens all sorts of doors.
Hack #11: “Be ruthless about analyzing your metrics and implement a validated sales process.” – Tim Bertrand – VP of Worldwide Sales, Acquia
*Keeping on top of your most important metrics is your only way to forecast and fix things that aren’t working. If you know what areas of your process are consistently failing, then you know where to focus your attention on fixing the sales process.
Hack #12: “Set goals with the buyer that have implied consequences for both parties” – Matt Cameron – VP of Sales, Scripted
*Matt compares the objection process to an armbar. When Matt was asked how does one break an armbar, his reply was: “ Don’t get in that position in the first place.”
The deal cycle is the same way. If you start by aligning goals with your buyer’s goals, you won’t get stuck later on down the road with common objections or roadblocks. Set common goals and timelines from the beginning and do the best you can to hold your champion accountable.
Hack #13: “Specialize your sales team” – Aaron Ross – CEO, Predictable Revenue
*Dedicate reps to manage inbound sales, and dedicate separate reps to manage Outbound prospecting. After qualification by those teams, the deals go to the Account Executives AKA deal closers. After the deal closes, then Customer Success gets the account (these are your “farmers” that cross sell and upsell.) Keep everyone specialized and focused on what they do best.
Hack #14: “Sales Ops & Sales Enablement should be your next two hires after your VP of Sales” – Cory Ayers – VP of Sales, Host Analytics
*Sales Ops is your Defense and Sales Enablement is your Offense. Sales Ops is in charge of setting up your sales team with the tools and reporting they need to be more efficient. Sales Enablement gives the salespeople the ammo they need to be effective in their sales pitches.
Hack #15: “Take advantage of the honeymoon period by asking for a referral soon after the deal closes” – Emmanuelle Skala – VP of Sales, Influitive
*This is a great piece of advice salespeople often forget. You just closed a deal and if you did your job right, both parties are pretty happy. Take this time to ask for a referral. Make sure you frame it as if your account is doing the person they’re referring a favor. If your new customer truly believes he or she just secured a deal on something of value, they’ll be happy to make the referral.
Hack #16: “Many times companies hire on gut feel, but that doesn’t scale. Instead, create a rubric you can continually tweak so that you hire the right person, every single time.” – Mark Roberge – CRO, Hubspot
*Your gut feeling should definitely play into your hiring process, but only at the very end. Sure, things like culture fit and empathy should be part of your grading process but make them a weighted part of your grading rubric. Try to define it. The characteristics highest on Mark’s list are prior success, intelligence, work ethic, and coach-ability.