Hunt Big Sales Blog
Insights for Finding, Landing and Harvesting Whale-Size Accounts
Guest Faculty post by Dave Hickman
Process has lots of benefits and every executive knows it. With that knowledge, almost every executive is disappointed with the final results of that process.
The problem is not that everyone is missing a hiring process, but that the hiring process is not aligned to the organizational needs.
This misses the target of driving optimal hiring results. To make any process improvements, overcoming legacy thinking is a real challenge. Will you get candidates through headhunters, Post & Pray, employee referrals or other sourcing means? I can’t think of one client who didn’t have a hiring process in place, however all of them were not achieving the outcomes they desired and acknowledged a need to modify their strategy which would improve their process and results.
It seems so logical that if you want to make progress, then adjust your strategy, people, tools, process, or systems. But however logical it may sound, simple fear causes people to delay or forego an improvement.
We’ve found there is a basic foundation to hiring talent that when properly utilized, speed to hire and quality will improve by over 30%. Here are 5 proven steps that need to be in place and will improve your confidence to hire better, faster, and consistently.
1. Strategy and Planning: Develop a 12 month Hiring Demand Matrix and stage gate hiring strategy, process and metrics. You will need tools such as Job Descriptions/Profile, Candidate Screening Summaries, Key Competencies, Interview Guides (with ratings), and qualitative/quantitative comparisons that define what is great and what is good.
Guest Faculty post by Doug Vause
When I was but a wee young lad… one of my first childhood heroes was the Lone Ranger. I loved that show, faithfully delivered every day in vivid black and white. Even as I’m writing, I can still hear the Lone Ranger theme song playing in my mind, when I saddled up my stick horse and rode fearlessly around the living room boldly daring any bad guy to cross my path. Rumor has it that I wore out many a stick horse, I mean “Silver”, riding through the wild, wild, west, totally decked out in my Lone Ranger outfit, cowboy hat, leather vest (okay maybe felt), with my six shooters (cap guns) strapped to my side shouting “Hi Yo Silver away!” I personally took it upon myself to keep all the town folk safe in our neighborhood and ensure that the fair maiden Chelli, the cute little neighbor girl next door, who always dressed up like Annie Oakley, safe from all the villains of the wild, wild, west. Truth be known, our wiener dog Heidi unfortunately took the brunt of my ambitious peacekeeping and was known to be roped and put in her jail cell (dog kennel) far too many times!
Sales used to be a lonely job.
Throughout my career I have had the opportunity to work with, manage, and observe a lot of salespeople whose behaviors reminded me a lot of the Lone Ranger. They preferred to work alone, or thought that they could do it all on their own, and that because they had the personal relationships they would always walk away with the sale.
Guest Faculty post by Jennifer Palus
Case studies are at once the most over-inflated and under-supported tool in the sales toolbox.
A case study is often imagined to be this self-targeting, silver bullet that can easily convince even the most resistant prospect. Sometimes even a prospect falls into this trap. Intrigued by your sales pitch, the prospect knows he has to convince his boss (and then her boss) to approve the purchase. “That’s great! Can you get me a case study?” The prospect asks, eyes gleaming with confidence that the case study will be all the persuasion needed to get approval.
Business people seem to hold the image of an idealized case study in the minds. They imagine case study layout and graphics so beautiful that simply taking it out of one’s briefcase or displaying it on-screen stops all other conversation. They imagine the perfect amount of text – just enough copy to grab the reader’s heart and mind (and checkbook), with not one word more. They imagine a conclusion so compelling that the prospect will sign on the dotted line before he has finished reading the last statistic. Cue the music; we have a deal…thanks to the case study!
A strong case study may not be THAT magically effective – but they are powerful tools. So why then is the metaphorical case study cupboard so bare for most of us? Why, at almost every company I’ve ever worked with, do people hangs their heads and make excuses when asked about the quality and quantity of their case studies?
Guest Faculty post by Eric Protzman
The Prospect Screen should be your most trusted advisor.
Think of it this way. You date and you date and you date, then you find the right person and you get married. Dating can be random, opportunistic, indulgent and impulsive, all characteristics you simply can’t afford in marriage.
In the past, what you call prospecting may well be impulsive or opportunistic dating. You may not be taking the time to investigate what is in your best interests.
What we are talking about in prospecting large accounts, transformational accounts, is not dating, it is marriage. Look at the long term implications of having the right customer, or having the wrong customer. I think you’ll get a feel for the strength of the metaphor.
I started Aim Direct Marketing in 1995. Tom Searcy was guiding my business development and very late one night after imagining this and designing that I said to Tom,“I don’t like mission statements and I think most business plans are just a list of things that don’t happen, but I do think we should talk about our core competency”. Bleary eyed and exhausted Tom tilted his head and said, “Where you are right now Eric, your core competency is anything anyone will give you a check for”.
That was just a phase. Do you recall this phase in your business too?
It is an exciting, thrilling and frightening time. But that time gives way to more stable and intentional times. As we become more sophisticated in our mission, our operations and our innovation we may not bring along the same sophistication in our sales efforts.
Guest Faculty post by Doug Vause
We all know the meaning of the phrase “Walk the Talk” but “Running the Race”?
I’ve had the opportunity to run in a few marathons over the years. For those who have also run marathons you’ll chuckle at my use of the word opportunity! One that stands out in my mind was an extremely long 26.5 miles in freezing rain and sleet one early spring running in the Ogden Marathon.
I was running the race with a friend of mine who had been a good training partner, little did I know at the start of the race how important that individual would be in my completing the race. Cary was a very capable runner. He could have quite easily, got me started on my way, wished me all the best and then quickly pulled ahead in the attempt to beat his personal best time. For my benefit he chose not to do that, and to my building appreciation throughout the race, chose to stay with me and ensure that I finished the race.
Keeping the Balance -Throughout the race Cary provided the perfect combination of pacesetter, challenger, motivator and coach. Setting the pace just enough to keep me on my best time, not allowing me to slack but also tuned in to my behavior and physical condition enough to know when that pace needed to be stepped up or pulled back because he saw me hitting a wall. As a coach along the way he kept me focused on all the positive aspects of what we were running for, not allowing the realities of the moment, the freezing rain, sleet, loss of feeling in legs, arms, fatigue, freezing cold temps, our bodies, well at least mine, struggling to have enough energy to keep moving forward let alone stay warm.
Guest Faculty post by Dave Hickman
Right now in the US talent marketplace, the two toughest roles to find, attract, and hire are IT specialists and great sales people. Sales people are everywhere you look, however the great ones who can hunt for leads, think strategically, build trust and then close business are as difficult to find as unicorns in a blizzard.
Over the last 15 years, we’ve helped companies hire over 4,000 sales reps, management, and leadership professionals in critical revenue generating roles for startups through Fortune 500 companies. Because sales professionals come in all kinds of sizes, shapes, and flavors that relate to products, services, industries, types of decision makers, and size of deals, no one size fits all criteria. However, what matters the most is they exist to drive revenue, and a bad hire will cost you 3X their salary if terminated at 12 months. With an investment of that magnitude, having the right strategy and process in place to minimize risk and increase probability of success is absolutely critical.
Therefore, we’ve compiled the top 6 mistakes we see hiring managers make when attracting, assessing, and hiring sales professionals. Focus on a couple at a time and gain confidence in your decisions to hire great sales people.
1. Misaligned your sales profile to what you’re selling - If your average sale is 3k, 30 day sales cycle, targeted to one low/mid level decision makers at fortune 1000 companies, you don’t need a highly skilled strategic sales person who is used to closing 500K deals over 6-9 months with multiple buyers.
Guest Faculty post by Tim Searcy
Goethe (dead, famous German guy) once said “Boldness has genius, magic and power in it.”
If you have been talking about hunting your biggest deal, or changing your sales culture to “hunt big,” you have to be bold. Four concepts we will need to keep in mind to achieve bold goals:
- The goal has to be accepted as a great idea and everyone has to be unanimously behind it.
- That’s right. If leadership can’t get behind the bold goal, then this is the wrong company for you. If everyone can jump on the bus, it will be a helluva ride! Almost every person that I have worked with in the past during these burst periods reminisces with tremendous reverence for what a small band of intrepid workers was able to produce.
- We cannot forget what brought us this far. Change is hard, and sometimes we try to burn down the village to build the city. In reality, there are business practices, cultural norms and people that got the firm to where it is. It is crucial that as we strive toward the bold goals, that we not lose the valuable past in the process. Pick the things that make sense, and hold them close while the struggle towards boldness continues.
- We can’t go much further keeping the status quo. The bar of adequacy just keeps advancing. Simply put, clients’ expectations and that of the marketplace continue to rise and their demands for improvement at the same financial rate or better continues undeterred. To be a market leader, we can’t just be adequate. We must continue to invest and improve in our service offering and professional development.
At some point, we all say dumb things. It is natural and human, but for all our communication abilities, salespeople can say the darnedest things!
I have compiled some classic ones below, but hope that you will add to the list with your own. Think of this as the list of things to never say if you are a salesperson.
“It could be huge!”
We have used this four-word exclamation in almost every seminar we have ever given. However, when a salesperson says it, they’re asking for the owner to either berate them for exaggeration, or pepper them with questions. A salesperson knows that both of these reactions are painful, and yet can’t help but say it anyway.
“It could be the next . . .!”
Like the previous statement, this statement comes jam-packed with assumptions and pixie dust. Of course, the worst of it is that the salesperson thinks that the last really big deal that was brought in looked just like this one. Now, he/she is not only subject to the wrath and ire of the boss, but also to that of all of his/her co-workers, since they’re going to have clean up the mess that “the next” creates.
“This is going to be fairly easy … We only have to do a couple things different than usual.”
Whenever the salesperson starts talking about how easy someone else’s work is going to be, she has lost the audience. It is never as easy as they think, because they don’t have to do the work.
A number of my clients are in the process of interviewing candidates for large account selling. To help them find the best candidates, we go through an exercise at the beginning of the process to define and rank the qualities and skills that we want the ideal person to have.
Here is a list of those qualities I look for in Superstar Salespeople through the interview process:
- Get to the Top--The best start at the top rather than work their way up. In large account sales knowing how to get to the top of the executive chain, to those who make the real decisions of size and strategy when selecting vendors and partners, will be necessary.
- Speak Senior Exec–“You get sent to whom you sound like” is a truth that shows up in action for most people in sales. The best salespeople can speak all of the languages of the members of the buying group, but most importantly, they can speak to the senior executive with confidence and relevance.
- Translate–Complexity is the enemy of speed in the sales process. Superstars know this and work well in translating what appears to be complex into simple and relevant explanations.
- Facilitate–Complex sales require a variety of people from your organization and the buyer’s to communicate, document, exchange information, and stay on task. A great salesperson keeps an eye on the details as if he or she was a Project Manager, ensuring progress and that nothing gets missed.
- Create–Big sales are rarely large volume purchases of off-the-shelf products or solutions.
In Daniel Pink’s important book, “Drive,” he convincingly shows that pay-for-performance is inversely related to complexity. Simply put, the longer and more complex a desired outcome is to achieve, the less pay-for-performance matters. A strong example is in the world of large sales. Large account sales require more time. If you want to keep sales people motivated in these longer and larger sales, you need to provide more compensation in salary.
There are also additional people- not just salespeople, but your whole team. To land a big deal, you’ve got to load up your team with people of all skill sets (subject matter experts who can speak the client’s language), because one person (a sales guy) out there on his own is not going to cut it. How do you keep those people engaged as well? If they’re not seeing their efforts translate into money in a meaningful way (commissions, profit-sharing, bonus, etc), they’ll too be distracted by the not-so-shiny-objects of their every day job.
How to Take Action
1. Pay more for big sales — and spread it around
The sales representative is not the only person involved in the hunt. The fact is, after the initial interest is generated, the internal subject matter expert team does a lot of the heavy lifting.
2. Put a trophy-bonus on the wall
Make it specific and personal. At one point in my career, I had a competitor for which I had a personal distaste. I wrote up on the wall that competitor’s top 10 clients and told my team, “I will pay a 20% premium on commissions for every deal we land from this list in the next 6 months.” We got 3 and it tasted sweet.