Ideas to Advance the Deals You Want to Close Today

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Image credit: FSPInvestors

We hosted one of our first sales peer group meetings yesterday at Microsoft in Burlington. We shared and discussed ideas that help sales people advance deals in the competitive tech landscape.  We started with a keynote and panel discussion led by Jim Pouliopoulos, founding director of Bentley University’s Professional Sales Programs.  Jim shared what he has learned motivates millennials (hint, it’s not always cash) and an overview of one of the first professional sales programs in the country.  We then broke into smaller group discussions.  The four topics discussed were:

  • Compensation and Incentives
  • Escalating deals with top executives
  • Tools and Technologies
  • Onboarding, time to productivity

Here are the key takeaways from each of the discussions:

 Jim Speredelozzi, VP of Inside Sales, BlackDuck Software, on compensation plans and incentives:

  1. Comp plans can only do so much, keep it to 1-3 focus areas, based on what you REALLY need from that person you are trying to motivate (Revenue, ACV, SQL etc.)
  2. People are not actually motivated by comp plans. The three top motivators: Mastery: Find ways to allow your people to master their profession (aka structure and discipline), Autonomy: Give them autonomy over their daily / weekly routine (freedom) (be sure to check in) and IMPACT: help them feel like they are part of something greater than themselves if you want to  really motivate them.
  3. Shared experiences are the best motivator – we discussed Presidents Club and the Black Duck Quakeoke (Karaoke with a Duck spin) as examples.

Liz McCormick, Director Sales Effectiveness & Enablement, Pegasystems on tools and technologies:

  1. Follow-up from a customer meeting is critical to preventing deals from getting “stuck.” Send a thank you note/next steps that include agreements made with the customer like next meeting (agreed upon in the previous meeting) and any other actions on both the part of the seller and the customer. 
  2. Once an opportunity has been identified, working with the customer on a “customer success plan” with agreed upon actions/dates from both parties helps hold the customer accountable and drives the deal forward. 
  3. Twitter is a good way to earn the right with prospects who are active there…responding to content posted, retweeting, etc. It can create a warm intro when calling or emailing. Texting is another avenue to communicate once there is a relationship established.
  4. Since many deals result in “no decision” instead of a definite yes or no, qualify early and often throughout the sales process.
  5. One way to think about constructive a good prospecting messaging is by using the “TIPS” template…Trends, Impact of those trends, Possibilities for the customer’s business if they change, and finally, (LASTLY) your solution. This should be 1-2 sentences for each part. 
  6. A lot of the tech to help sales can help drive sales, but too much can be detrimental to productivity. 
Photo credit: MassTLC

Matt Johnson, Director of Financial Services Sales at Qstream on onboarding and miminzing time to productivity:

  1. Establish expectations with new sales hires, necessary because most often time to productivity doesn’t mesh with when the new recruit wants to be productive
  2. Set first goals that can be achieved no longer than 90 days after hire. It’s important for new hires to accomplish something tangible to keep them motivated, even if goals are not closed deals.
  3. For new business/logo reps give them access to existing customers as soon as possible to hear from users directly why they bought your solution and what they are doing with your solution. This is a great way to reduce ramp-up time.
  4. The best way to reinforce new knowledge that a rep needs to attain is to break it down into “bite sized” chunks and repeat the delivery of this information over time until it sticks. This is after the initial training event has happened. 
  5. Profile who makes a successful rep for your company, so you’re hiring the right people in the first place. Don’t be rigid in that profile. It needs to capture traits and personality, not specific experience. 

Julia Abramovich, VP, Northeast Enterprise Unit, IBM Corporation on deal acceleration:

  1. Everyone is focused on prospecting and how to get “noticed” in the fast-moving crowded marketplace we all live in
  2. Consistent application of sales enablement and its reinforcement is critical to success
  3. There is NO silver bullet – just hard work and grit

Thanks to our speakers and the folks that took time out of their busy days to join us.  Also thanks to Arlen Plotkin from IBM for his help in shaping the program and to Microsoft for hosting.  Our content is driven by our members.  If there is a topic of interest to you or a challenge you would like to discuss with your peers, we’d like to hear about it!