4 Books That Will Increase Your Sales Productivity

Something we talk about a lot here at Rainmakers is the importance of continued education. There are so many masters out there that put all of their successes, lessons, and even mistakes in their books. Why make mistakes when you can learn from the mistakes of others? Books are amazing capsules for the human mind. There is almost no excuse for not learning from the greats who have made their knowledge immortal.

 

Sales is not something anybody can just pick up and do, there is a ton of human psychology involved that the layman cannot possibly comprehend at first glance. Nobody wants to spend their money. Most people have a fairly tight budget and don’t want to ‘waste’ their hard earned cash. That’s why you need to know how to give value to your customers while getting them into a buying mindset.

 

For beginners, the very first thing you need to master is how to be productive. If you can’t keep yourself busy for the work day, you will have no career in sales. Any decent salesperson is constantly generating leads, following up, making cold calls, networking, and closing the deal. There is no room for slack in this industry, here are the 5 books that will help you keep up.

 

1. How to Win Friends & Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

This book is an absolute classic and must-read for any sales professional. If you haven’t heard of this book yet, then you are already behind. Maintaining a productive work day means keeping potential and existing clients in the loop at all times. You can achieve this by understanding the dynamics of human communication and social etiquette. The stronger your connections the bigger your network will become. This will open you up to all kinds of opportunities that will definitely keep you busy. If you haven’t yet, pick up this book immediately.

Check it out – How To Win Friends And Influence People

 

 

2. The UltraMind Solution, by Mark Hyman M.D.

The UltaMind Solution is not a a sales book at all, in fact it has absolutely nothing to do with sales. However, the issue here is productivity, and Mark’s book will unlock level of energy within you that you never would have thought possible before. By making a few simple changes to your diet you can achieve almost superhuman levels of energy in your day to day life. Any salesperson that is willing to commit to their career needs all the energy they can get. Mastering this book will put you head and shoulders above even the most experienced salespeople in your field.

Check it out – The UltraMind Solution

 

3. Secrets of Closing the Sale, by Zig Zigler

A critical part about staying productive is understanding how to close your sale quickly. You don’t want to spend weeks or even months tracking down a client to get them to buy. Learning how to close will free up your time so you can use it to generate more leads and close more deals.

 

This is the first book on the list that starts to dip into the psychology of what makes a person buy. Like we discussed above, people just going about their day aren’t necessarily ready to part ways with their money. But when you understand the psychological factors that get people buy, you will save a ton of time and energy during the sales process. Even if you get a hard NO, you pushed your client to the point where you know with complete certainty that they will not buy. Instead of them just being nice to you and leading you on for who knows how long, you’ll get your answer so you can move on to people who potentially will buy.

Check it out – Secrets of Closing the Sale

 

4. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, by Daniel H. Pink

‘To Sell Is Human’ is another must read book when it comes understanding the link between human psychology and selling. This book made the list because it is one of the most recent books that have achieved classic status on this topic.

 

Within its pages, Pink talks about the correlation between persuasion and selling. He also outlines that regardless of your profession, a challenge that comes up quite frequently in life is the ability to effectively persuade someone else of an idea. Whether it’s getting children to do their homework or convincing a significant other to eat at a restaurant of your choosing, there is always an element of persuasion or selling necessary. Thus, Pink is able to derive the name of his book from this basic principle.

Check it out – To Sell is Human

Conclusion

There are tons of books you can read on this topic but these 4 are absolute must reads. Increasing your productivity means getting smarter, being healthy, being motivated, and closing as many deals as possible. You will make mistakes, you will hit roadblocks, but committing  to success will pull you through. Once you start building momentum you will forget what it was ever like to be unproductive in your field.

 

The Top Characteristics Of Successful Sales Managers

Sales management positions are extremely rigorous and difficult positions. The men and women who earn a sales management job in tech startups or enterprises are the people who bring massive revenue and inspire huge results with their teams. To put it simply, a sales manager is what gets money through the door. Having a constant flow of income is the foundation of every business. If you can be the rainmaker for your employer, you will be treated as an invaluable asset. But the question is, how do you develop the skills to be a high functioning sales manager?

To develop your skills as a sales manager, sometimes you just need to throw yourself into the water to learn how to swim. But, before you do, here is one key ability you will need to be successful.

Know Your Ideal Position

Knowing your ideal position is a key ability you will need to master in order to be successful as a sales manager. Within sales, there are many different departments that require leadership. For example, business development teams need different leadership and management compared to sales enablement or field sales reps. Placing yourself appropriately within your team can be the difference between making in rain or feeling the pain. 

Think about it. The VP Sales or CSO at a bootstrapped tech startup is going to have everything on his shoulders – the training, process creation and development, hiring, coaching and stack development. However, the VP of Business Development at an enterprise organization will have more narrow, specific focuses. Depending on your skills and experience, one or the other position will be best for you and ultimately the company as a whole. 

Answering the questions of your ideal position will require some introspection. You must know yourself before you will be fit to manage an entire sales team. Do you love to help people? Being the business development leader will allow you to coach the SDR or BDR team. They’re learning, are thirsty for knowledge, and want to improve so they get promoted.

Put together a list what you like doing and the corresponding positions that match your interests.

 

Be an Advocate for Your Company and the People You Work With

The second part of your question deal with personality traits of a successful sales manager. One thing that employers love the most is having someone who loves the company as much as they do. What employees often don’t understand about the higher ups in their company is exactly how much they have dedicated their lives to making their company successful. When they see others with their level of commitment they instantly hold you in high regard.

Part of this process is gaining visibility and recognition among the leadership team and the sales team. Being open and available to as many people at the company is one great way to build trust and familiarity with you. Imaging the stuck up manager who only comes out of the office to bark orders and make impossible demands, do not be that guy. Don’t just make small talk either, the people you work with are human beings with unique stories and traits. Learn who they are and how they best fit within the company. As the sales manager you may find positions for people that will make them a lot happier and more productive, it’s a win for everybody.

This doesn’t only apply to your immediate group. Meet the marketing team and the content creators or whichever departments are relevant to the business. The benefit of this is to build relationships within the team and to show your real intention to join the team for reasons other than the salary. But, of course, you have to balance this process out. You can’t be too needy for attention either. Your social skills within the company is a skill and should not be overlooked just because your numbers happen to be good this month.

Let’s face it, many people at your company don’t necessarily want to be there every day of the week. If you can establish yourself as somebody they look forward to seeing, you will boost moral which will lead to a healthier more successful workplace for everybody involved, including yourself.

 

Never Stop Learning

Your skills are what will determine a large part of your success. Luckily there is a wealth of information about specific within the sales process itself. When you’re not working, you need to be absorbing as much information as possible from books, seminars, videos, and podcasts. You want to be the guy who is always up to date with the cutting edge of your field. If you don’t think you are up for the lifelong path to mastery, then consider a different field.

People who have been massively successful have written their entire life stories down for us to learn form. Sam Walton has a great book called “Made in America” that’s a great primer for any ambitious person in the sales field. We don’t have to make mistakes in order to learn, we can simply learn from the mistakes of others and avoid the pain all together.

Conclusion

Taking a position as a sales manager is a massive commitment. Be ready to put all your skills and energy to the test. When you become successful, don’t become a jerk about it. Make sure your team feels just as successful as you do when things go right, and just as much to blame when things go wrong. Good luck on your new position!

The Offical Rainmakers 2018 Dreamforce Party Guide

Dreamforce 2018 is right around the corner! I hope that everyone has their pitches rehearsed and their business card ready. Networking is an important piece of running your booth, but don’t forget that the networking doesn’t end when you leave Moscone. You can’t forget the parties, and who has time to research all of them? Don’t worry – Rainmakers has created a 2018 Dreamforce Party Guide, sorted by date, so you can plan accordingly. Register soon before all of your favorite events are filled.

Featured Event

Modern Sales Pros and Modern SaaS – 2018 Dreamforce Happy Hour

Rainmakers is excited to sponsor the 2018 MSP Happy Hour.  This is not an event to miss. The demand has been so great, that the party has been expanded to a block party including three bars and a restaurant.  In addition to being to being a general sponsor, Rainmakers is taking over Iza Ramen and hosting Rainmakers Ramen – A night of networking and noodles (and Saki, beer and wine) on us!  You won’t want to miss this.

Hosted/Sponsored By:  Modern Sales Pro, Modern SaaS, Bravado, Chili Piper, ChorUS, DiscoverOrg, DocSend, GrowLabs, Guru, Rainmakers, SalesLoft, Skaled, and Troops.

Summary:  The MSP happy hour is happening again so that MSP and Modern SaaS members from around the country can meet and greet in person.

When:  Tuesday, September 25th, 2018  5:30pm-9:30pm

Where:  Raven Bar & BloodHound – 1151 Folsom Street

Sign Up Here

Also, our COO, Michael Theron, is being featured at the Sales Hacker Leadership Lounge, speaking on a panel How to Scale a Successful Sales Team. Breakfast will be served.

All Events

Monday – September 24th, 2018

Power Up for Dreamforce Party

Hosted/Sponsored By:  Simplus

Summary: Power up for Dreamforce with food, drinks, vintage arcade games, and giveaways.

When:  Monday, September 24th, 2018  7:00pm-11:00pm

Where:  The Dirty Habit at Hotel Zelos  12 4th Street

Sign Up Here

PepUp Tech Karaoke for a Cause

Hosted/Sponsored By:  PepUp Tech

Summary: PepUp Tech’s Karaoke for a Cause.  Karaoke with donations going to support a lot of great causes,

When:  Monday, September 24th 7:30pm

Where:  Pandora Karaoke  177 Eddy Street

Sign Up  Here – Tickets are $30

Tuesday – September 25th, 2018

WalkMe DreamForce Party

Hosted/Sponsored By: WalkMe, DialSource, TimeTrade, RFPio

Summary:  Not only is this he event a great opportunity to relax and “let-loose” after Day 1 of the conference, the WalkMe Dreamforce Party brings together top influencers — across every industry representing several hundred organizations — in a casual and professional environment for establishing valuable connections.

When: September 25th, 8pm

Where:  Terra Gallery – 511 Harrison Street

Sign Up Here

Modern Sales Pros and Modern SaaS – 2018 Dreamforce Happy Hour

Hosted/Sponsored By:  Modern Sales Pro, Modern SaaS, Bravado, Chili Piper, ChorUS, DiscoverOrg, DocSend, GrowLabs, Guru, Rainmakers, SalesLoft, Skaled, and Troops.

Summary:  The MSP happy hour is happening again so that MSP and Modern SaaS members from around the country can meet and greet in person.

When:  Tuesday, September 25th, 2018  5:30pm-9:30pm

Where:  Raven Bar & BloodHound – 1151 Folsom Street

Sign Up Here

DemandBase After-party at Temple

Hosted/Sponsored By: DemandBase, Salesforce Pardot, Engagio, Certain

Summary: Join Demandbase and fellow B2B marketers at the iconic Temple Nightclub. Dance the night away in the fully immersive state of the art LED lighting nightclub with world-class sound system. There’ll be live DJs, drinks, food and plenty of dancing!

When:  Tuesday, September 25th, 2018  9:00pm – 12:00am

Where:  Temple Nightclub – 540 Howard Street

Sign Up Here

The Dreamforce Premier Silent Disco!

Hosted/Sponsored By:  Conga

Summary:  Located just across the street from Moscone at the ThirstyBear Brewing Company. Conga brought you the original silent disco of Dreamforce, and this year they’re outdoing themselves! With three DJs and an open bar, come ready to party and unwind from your first full day of Dreamforce.

When:  Tuesday, September 25th, 2018  7:00pm – LATE!

Where:  ThirstyBear Brewing Company  661 Howard Street

Sign Up Here

#DF2018 Taco Tuesday

Sponsored/Hosted By: DIA

Summary:  Come and join us for “Muchos Tacos” on Dreamforce Tuesday evening, help support a great cause and bathe in the #Ohana Spirit as you find the groove of your 2018 Dreamforce experience. You don’t have to speak Spanish to attend… just bring a hefty appetite for tasty Tacos. Anyone attending Dreamforce is welcome!  Your $40 ticket gets you a Taco Fiesta which lets you build your own Tacos from a variety of choice ingredients such as soft corn & flour tortillas, choice of 2 types of meat, black & pinto beans, with a variety of salsas, cheese, onions, cilantro, lettuce, limes, guacamole and sour cream. Mmmmm has my mouth watering now!

When:  Tuesday, September 25th, 2018  7:00pm-11:00pm

Where:  Nick’s Crispy Tacos and Rogue Lounge  1500 Broadway at Polk St.

Sign Up Here – Tickets $33

**DF2018 Badge needed for entry.  All proceeds will be donated to Mission 22

Salesforce North Party @ Dreamforce

Hosted/Sponsored By:  Salesforce

Summary:  We have the pleasure of inviting to a North Europe party – San Francisco style!  The concept: Connect with your fellow Trailblazers: Mingle with all kinds of Trailblazers from the BeNeLux and Nordic regions.  Taste of San Francisco: Food stations from different parts of the city; like the Castro, Chinatown, the Mission and North Beach. Dance to top DJs: Dive into the night – streets of San Francisco style!

When:  Tuesday September 25th, 2018  6:30pm – 10:30pm

Where:  The Mezzanine  444 Jessie Street

Sign Up Here

BlueSkies

Hosted/Sponsored By:  Bluewolf, an IBM Company.

Summary:  Join IBM and Bluewolf for our exclusive BlueSkies celebration above the fog at a historic location. Enjoy an evening of networking complete with mixologists serving up curated cocktails, and a live band.

When:  Tuesday, September 25th, 2018  7:00pm – LATE

Where:  Location revealed via invite – exclusive!

Sign Up/Request Invite Here

Linkedin- Get Closer to Greatness

Hosted/Sponsored By:  Linkedin

Summary:  An evening gathering the world’s top innovators, leaders, and influencers in sales for an evening you won’t want to miss. In San Francisco for Dreamforce? We’ve got you covered.  

When:  Tuesday, September 25th, 2018  8:00pm – 11:00pm

Where:  Linkedin- 222 2nd St.

Sign Up/Request Invite Here

Wednesday –  September 26th, 201

SalesLoft Celebrate

Sponsored/Hosted By: SalesLoft, EverString, Intercom, Terminus, LeanData, Sendoso, Modern Sales Pros, and Videolicious.

Summary: Celebrate crushing your quota. Celebrate your recent promotion. Celebrate your bluebird deal.  Celebrate nailing your pitch. Celebrate making President’s Club. Join SalesLoft as they celebrate YOU at Dreamforce this year.

When:  Wednesday, September 26th, 2018  10:00pm- 2:00am

Where:  Temple Nightclub  540 Howard Street

Sign Up Here

Cocktails, Conversations, and Conversions

Sponsored/Hosted By:  DiscoverOrg, Marketo, Gong

Summary:  Come network with marketing and sales leaders on Thursday night while enjoying free drinks & apps – discuss some of your favorite sessions from the event and other tips & tricks you use to get ahead of the game!

When:  Thursday, September 27, 2018  6:00pm-8:30pm

Where:  Bar 888 – 888 Howard Street

Sign Up Here

Science Fair Happy Hour

Sponsored/Hosted By:  Ambition, Gong, and LearnCore

Summary:  Join Ambition, Gong, and LearnCore for complimentary drinks and bar bites, just steps away from Moscone in the beautiful Intercontinental Living Room bar area. We’ll be cooking up formulas for successful sales, mixing cocktail elements, and testing out some new games.

When:  Wednesday, September 26, 2018  4:00pm – 7:00pm

Where:  InterContinental SF – 888 Howard Street

Sign Up Here

The Concert for UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals Featuring Metallica!

Hosted/Sponsored By: Salesforce.org, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals

Summary:  A benefit concert featuring Metallica and MC Hammer.

When:  September 26, 2018

  • 6:00pm Cocktails
  • 8:00pm Concert
  • 10:00pm After party

Where:  City Hall and Civic Center Plaza  335 McAllister St.

Sign Up Here

NewVoiceMedia Oktoberfest!

Hosted/Sponsored By:  NewVoiceMedia

Summary:  Join NewVoiceMedia for Beer, Bratwurst and more beer. They will be bringing the traditional Oktoberfest celebration to you at Dreamforce. Grab your stein and join them for the best party at Dreamforce.  This party always fills up so register ASAP to ensure you and your lederhosen get on the list.

When:  Wednesday, September 26th, 2018  5:00pm – 8:00pm

Where:  Tehama Grasshopper  431 Tehama Street

Sign up Here

Thursday – September 27, 2018

Sales Enablement Soiree

Hosted/Sponsored By:  Forrester, Salesforce, SiriusDecisions

Summary:  The Sales Enablement Soiree is the only networking event exclusively for Sales Enablement at Dreamforce.

When:  Thursday, September 27, 2018  9:00am-5:00pm

Where:  Four Season, 757 Market Street

Sign Up Here

Cocktails, Conversations, and Conversions

Sponsored/Hosted By:  DiscoverOrg, Marketo, Gong

Summary:  Come network with marketing and sales leaders on Thursday night while enjoying free drinks & apps – discuss some of your favorite sessions from the event and other tips & tricks you use to get ahead of the game!

When:  Thursday, September 27, 2018  6:00pm-8:30pm

Where:  Bar 888 – 888 Howard Street

Sign Up Here

The Engagement Party

Sponsored/Hosted By:  Idealist Consulting, Dig, iATS Payments, KnowWho, Mogli, FormAssembly, Rallybound.

Summary:  The biggest party of the year for nonprofits & progressives.

When:  Thursday, September 27th, 2018  9:00pm – LATE!

Where:  The Monarch  101 6th Street

Sign Up Here

MapAnything After Hours

Sponsored/Hosted By:  MapAnything, Simplus, Natterbox, Own, LinkPoint360

Summary:  A night of mind-blowing diversions & hypnotic sounds await you at San Francisco’s hottest nightlife destination, Temple Night Club. You won’t want to miss the diverse and soulful mixes created by California native, DJ Malachi.   Sip on your elixir of choice at their open premium bar, accompanied by an assortment of delectable hors d’oeuvres while you let the mystery of the evening engulf you. The line-up of unexpected & entrancing entertainment acts, every hour, on the hour will leave you wanting more.

When:  Thursday, September 27th  9:00pm – 2:00am

Where:  Temple Nightclub  540 Howard Street

Sign Up Here

Limitless Party

Sponsored/Hosted By:  FinancialForce

Summary:  Located between Moscone Conference Center and your hotel room, our VIPCentral will be hosting the party of the year! Expect some seriously good food, killer music, cool entertainment, and crafty cocktails. Whether you want to get your groove on or do some networking in style this party will deliver.

When:  Thursday, September 27th, 2018  7:00PM – 10:00PM

Where:  Fogo de Chao  201 3rd Street

Sign Up Here

trade show tips for exhibitors and vendor booths at conferences

Conference Booth Networking For Vendors: How To Standout From The Sea Of Other Booths

You’ve seen it time and time again at conference after conference. The glorious expo hall aka sea of SaaS vendor booths. Some are crushing, while others are sitting around wishing they had more people stopping by for demos and chatter. In this guide, we’ll break down how to stand out from the noise and get some real achievable ROI for your company’s booth investment.

If you’re curious, check out how Rainmakers did this at Sales Hacker’s Revenue Summit. (We kicked ass!)

Conferences growing in importance within the business landscape both in helping companies grow their brand awareness and in engaging with prospects. As such a growing number of leaders in marketing are investing in booths and sponsorships for the various conferences relevant to their particular business and industry.

Once such an investment has been made, it’s imperative that the booth be properly staffed at all times and the team has a cohesive strategy on how to engage with attendees such that the company will be able to achieve the greatest possible ROI for that conference. To do so however is not so straight forward and can actually be quite challenging since there are often so many other vendors prying for the attention of the same prospective buyers.

Therefore if you’ve been tapped on as one of the trusted agents of your enterprise to go to such a conference as the ambassador of your company, what are some ways you can stand out from the crowd and make the most of your time there? That’s exactly what we’re here to discuss.

Here are some best practices you can follow to maximize your chances of developing a positive relationship with a conference attendee and ultimately growing your company’s pipeline, which is what your executive team will expect from such an investment.

1) Smile

Think about it. Who would ever want to approach someone at a booth with an unpleasant frown on their face? If it’s abhorrently obvious to others that the staffer doesn’t want to be there, they can safely assume their conversation with that individual will be lackluster at best.

The power of the smile, especially at conferences, cannot be understated. Smiles are contagious and have the power to attract others. Smiling is also a signal to others that they are welcome to come and speak to you. It may seem like body language basics, but it really works!

Best of all, it allows for the interaction to get a kick start on the right note given that a smile will often be reciprocated leaving your conversational counterpart to think subconsciously the interaction is going well. Of course, the rest of your conversation must continue to engage and excite the prospect but this is definitely a great way to get the ball rolling.

2) Act as a guide

This might be the best networking tip of them all.

Though you are not an employee of the conference it may behoove you to try and match the knowledge of their staff. Reason being, if you’re able to have a solid understanding of locations and schedules you can act as a guide for those attending the conference. At the very least we would advise you try and obtain a map or schedule of the conference that you can reference for this purpose.

This can be a fantastic ice breaker to start a conversation and will create an opportunity for an immediately positive interaction since you’re offering assistance. If you see someone with a lost look on their face while you’re staffing your booth you can immediately walk forward with confidence and ask if there’s anything you can do to assist them.

Once you’ve been able to help that individual you can parlay the conversation in such a way that you relate things back to your company’s product or services. It’s highly possible that individual could be a prospective buyer or know someone who might be.

Another possibility though is that the individual may be late to a session and speed off quickly after your little interaction but don’t worry as your show of good will won’t be for naught. There’s still the possibility that you may run into that individual again later in the conference and now that an acquaintanceship has been established it should be much easier to approach the individual later. Just don’t let them leave without taking your business card which is actually a perfect segue for our next point.

3) Bring business cards and company swag

It’s safe to say that a booth without swag is at a great disadvantage at these conferences. Though it may seem a bit materialistic, many conference attendees will feel inclined to engage with staffers at booths just to get some free swag.

Though the seemingly frivolous distribution of items will often not lead to a lot closed business it can do a great deal for a company in terms of brand awareness. This is even truer the more unique that particular giveaway item is.

For example, during one particular conference I had attended previously in the security space we gave away branded fidget spinners as swag. In following up with one of our target prospects, he informed me that the timing for our services wasn’t quite right but that we’d be the first vendor he would call should circumstances change because he found our swag particularly unique. He had always wanted to get a fidget spinner as an office toy but didn’t want to go out of his way to buy one himself.

I’ve also seen this in action first hand. Sumologic must have at one point distributed stress ball designed to look like a cartoon sumo character because we had quite a few lying around our offices. During one of our happy hours a colleague happened to cap his beer glass with this sumo character which sparked a conversation about the hilarity of the item. What followed suit was a further discussion about the company and their on-going business.

The need for business cards should go without saying as it’s such standard practice people will almost expect to be handed a business card at a conference. They won’t even bat an eye as to why it’s being given to them and it only benefits you as a vendor to hand them out. The more items prospects have to remember you by, the more likely you’ll be first to come to mind as a solution for a relevant problem in the future.

4) Add people on LinkedIn

Whenever you interact with someone at a conference, it would be wise to add them on LinkedIn.  As mentioned earlier, the more items someone has to remember you by the more likely you’ll be one to come to mind. This carries true in the digital realm as well.

If they are a prospective buyer it will allow you to more easily keep in touch. Even if they’re not there’s a chance that someone in their network may be and so the next time you publish content, it only increases the chances it reaches the right people in your space.

You can of course also try and connect with these individuals on other forms of social media as well such as Twitter and the like, but more often than not people view other platforms as a hub for their personal connections not professional. Unless you were able to really connect with that individual on a personal level, it may seem out of place to try and connect with them on any other platform. As such we recommend for the most part you stick with LinkedIn.

5) Ask about others first

Creating a memorable interaction can be very difficult at conferences given the sheer volume of interactions attendees will have throughout. One way you can give yourself an edge in trying to stand out though is to first ask about others. It also works great as an ice-breaker since people often enjoy talking about themselves.

A lot of the other staffers, especially the more inexperienced ones, will often start a conversation with prospects jumping straight into who they are and what their company can offer knowing very little about the person their talking to. Just like on a cold call, it’s hard to find value propositions around your product or services that a prospect can relate to unless you have an understanding of their role and responsibilities.

Therefore you should use this as an opportunity to do a little bit of discovery. It will help make transitioning the conversation to your company much easier and much more relatable. Even more, since humans are naturally bound by the law of reciprocity chances are you won’t even have to segue the conversation yourself. Since you have gone out of your way to ask about the person you’re speaking to, that individual will likely in turn ask you the same which would be your cue to take the knowledge you just gathered and pitch your product or services in a manner that would be most relevant.

Conferences can be a hectic time for many with so many things going on at any given time, but ultimately the goal for any organization in making the investment to attend or sponsor these events is to get in front of the right people and grow their business.

Hopefully these tips can help you stand out from the crowd and do just that. Now go out there and as always, make it rain!

qualities of a great sales development rep (SDR)

7 Vital Qualities Every Hiring Manager Is Looking For When They Hire An SDR

Sales Development is the hotbed career aspiring money-makers are desperate to get into and launch their career from. San Francisco Bay area SaaS startups cannot hire SDR talent quickly enough because of the accelerated business growth opportunities that talented SDR’s produce for their AEs.

But what makes one of these super hot startups choose one individual SDR over another for a position on their Sales Development team?

7 Qualities Of A Great SDR

  1. Drive
  2. Sector Interest
  3. Keen Learner
  4. Curious
  5. Skillful
  6. Team Player
  7. Aspirations For a Successful Sales Career

1) Drive

It’s well known that SDRs have one of the hardest jobs around in business. It takes serious grit and determination to fight through the rejection, difficulties, and let downs of being in sales development. This is why drive is a requirement for any aspiring SDR.

Being a driven person will mean you’re ready to go through thick and thin in your work to reach your goals. You will have automatic motivation and will be prepared to put in the extra hours, turn up for work early, and generally make a good SDR. The best ones are persistent and will put in the time, so being a driven person will show hiring managers you are ready to work.

2) Sector Interest

If you’re passionate about a subject that you can find work in, it will greatly assist with your application. In terms of SDR roles, look towards your target business vertical to find this connection. A person who loves technology would find a great deal of motivation and satisfaction in selling a great new technology service or product.

The key is to find your chosen topics and areas you could create this connection to. In interviews you will subconsciously light up and speak much more naturally when you begin to talk about the sector the business works in. On the flip side, candidates who have no interest in a particular vertical will find it harder to converse as naturally and go the extra miles as you could, simply because you’re invested in the heart of the business.

Hiring managers will recognize you as a person who needs no help in understanding the market they are in and someone who will be able to speak very well to clients and prospects. They will know you’ll be more likely to work hard and enjoy your work in a sector you love. These ingredients equal a better SDR.

3) Keen Learner

SDRs often land at the lower echelons of the career ladder. It is very important for any SDR or future sales development leader to always learn. Even CEOs continue to learn on a daily basis, so it’s key you show your willingness to learn.

The awareness that you need to learn a lot to become successful in sales development will present a good case with hiring managers. They will likely have programs and inductions to help you learn the ropes and gain the key skills you need, but showing you are aware of this already will only be a plus for them.

Quite frankly I would never hire anyone who thought they knew all there is to know about a subject or discipline, as things change so quickly. So show you are ready and willing to learn as much as possible.

4) Curious

SDR’s often have to try new messaging, different techniques to reach out, and generally tamper with their work so that they can improve results. You cannot do that unless you are a curious person who wants to try new things, find out what happens and experiment, and then optimize the results.

Being curious also leads to new ideas and innovation, which every company worth staying with for a long time will love. Anybody can follow orders, but it takes a certain type of person to put their own spin on a process or email body and test it out.

Curious people always ask questions so they can get to the heart of why something is done in a certain way, unearth new ways and find new opportunities. This is where exciting things can happen.

5) Skillful

One way to impress the team you’re joining is to show them you’re cut from the same cloth as them. If you can cold call the team leader and relevant managers, email them and socially surround the leaders and the team, you’ve already shown that you’re developing the core sales skills needed to be successful.

This demonstrates a level of commitment and serious interest in working with the company; a persistence that tells the company you’re bought into what they do and are dead serious about becoming a part of their team.

Not every candidate going for a job will do this, and even if there are other SDR candidates calling into the business for the job you want, if you manage to reach out in a more creative way and get your interview or call back, you’ll have the respect of the hiring manager and sales leaders.

6) Team Player

Great SDR teams are made of team players, not lone wolves. Sharing what is working, giving feedback and collaborating is a great way to build on overall SDR team success. If you show signs of becoming a lone wolf, hiring managers may easily see you not fitting into the ethos of the team.

When sales leaders share how they reward their teams for hitting quotas, they often reward the team with a day out, beers, a day off and all sorts of team-orientated experiences that are designed to boost team spirit and collaboration. All of this doesn’t work and does not incentivize the team if they’re all in the game for themselves and not interested in the team as a collective. Nobody builds a team like that.

Plus, any business can fail if the collective fails – even if one person is a superstar and crushes it. It is about the team, so showing you’re all about the team effort will help the hiring manager picture you in the team and build you into their unit.

7) Aspirations For A Successful Sales Career

Sales is hard. You don’t get into sales and stay there if you’re not bothered and could happily do anything for a job. If you really have aspirations of a career in sales, it’s good to tell your hiring manager what that looks like. Even better, knowing roughly what the path to achieving that goal looks like is a good sign you’re a good individual with a plan, ready to execute it.

If you have serious ambitions and plans to become a VP Sales with a team of 20, you can’t do that without starting sales somehow. For employers, this is good knowledge that the candidate is serious and will do what it takes to reach it.

Looking for your next big sales role? Create a profile on Rainmakers and take your sales career to the next level!

what is a rainmaker in sales (and how to become one)

What Is A Rainmaker In Sales? (And How To Become One)

What Is A Rainmaker In Sales?

In sales, a rainmaker is known as a person who flourishes in business development and wins new deals at an impeccable rate. Rainmakers are A-Players that typically outperform every person in the organization.

Anyone serious about building their career in sales has thought about or asked, “what is a rainmaker” in sales – and how do I become one? Top performers in sales are equipped for top performance in life and in business, too.

They have a range of skills and abilities used to understand and form alliances, as well as challenge and push for the right outcomes to create success. Those who can make this happen are not only top performers in sales, but they can quickly climb the career ladder.

Establishing The Rainmaker Mindset

People argue about how sales people are either born, or made successful. Is it in their DNA, or are they taught?

I believe it’s actually about the mindset and attitude you have as a sales person.

If you speak to prospects as though they are just a stepping stone toward achieving your own goals, you’ll get no cooperation from the prospect. This is why I think it is so important to think very clearly about what sectors and industries you actually care about.

Having this understanding will stop you from trampling over prospects and prospective clients. But if you have invested real interest in the sector the prospect is in, and work for a company solving their problems, you will act in a way that works toward solving their problems. You’ll think of the prospect before your own needs.

If you care about something, you’ll put in the work, too. Sales people have the unique ability to put in more work and get more return from it if they do things right. If you care about the niche or sector you’re helping, what better motivation to put in the extra hour or two after everyone else has already gone home for the day?

Developing The Rainmaker Skills

Let’s breakdown the skills of a Rainmaker into 4 categories:

  1. Listening
  2. Expertise
  3. Ability to ask great questions
  4. Control

The emphasis today on personal and professional development has never been higher.

I personally invest hours of time – day and night – in learning new things.

You don’t have to sit on your laptop and go through an expensive course, but there is so much content available at your disposal.

I listen to sales podcasts instead of music while I work most days, and even when I am taking some time to relax at the weekend I’ll use my phone podcast app to listen to a few episodes whenever I can.

Make the most of times when you have silence. When I drive, an audiobook can be played. When at the gym, podcasts or audiobooks can be consumed.

If you have time to read, check out these essential sales books for building a rock solid foundation in your career.

Listening

First and foremost, you must listen to what prospects say. If you don’t hear anything when they talk, how can you tailor your message and solution, let alone the conversation to help them as best you can? Listen to what is said by a prospect, understand their problems, reasoning and goals. What is the need, why is there a need? If you know the answers to these questions, however basic they may seem, you can at least tailor your response to get into the heart of the problem and solve it. There is nothing less engaging in sales than a generic-sounding, almost scripted sales person talking.

Become An Expert

The natural second part to listening to a prospect is to actually have a great understanding of the market and the problems they have. Your product/service knowledge must be exemplary. There is no excuse to not have the best knowledge of what you sell on your team – if you haven’t got the best knowledge of it, you operate at a disadvantage.

Nobody wants to speak to a person who can’t help them. You need to really understand how to direct and guide the client from their current situation toward the successful outcome. This requires a level of skill, knowledge and experience. If you feel you lack any one of those 3 factors, do whatever you can to build on them. Ask to watch how a client is onboarded and serviced if you feel the experience is lacking. Or brush up on your product knowledge if you can’t answer tricky questions well.

Questions

Asking great questions is an art you need to learn. You must prepare these questions before any call but be able to adapt should things not play out how you think they will. The art of asking great questions revolves mainly around quick, but considered, thinking.

You must ask a question that extracts the information you need from the prospect, but also one that moves them to think about the situation in a different way so they can see the right path to solving the problem. Get them to see things in a new light. It is much like solving a moving puzzle, but nobody said sales was easy!

Before going into a call, think about this: if in every situation the prospect knew the right way to get to the outcome they wanted, they would have done it already. The sales person wouldn’t need to add any value, or solve any problems. So, think about what the real problem is, or what the real solution is. Educate and consult on how the prospect and account can reach the outcome. It is your job to have them realize the correct way to reach the goal.

Control

One thing it is vital to remember in the world of sales today is that control is key. You will wait forever for the perfect prospect to stumble into your pipeline who books your next calls for you and asks to have your AE join the next call at the right stage. Sales is like training to be a tennis player. The sales person in many ways is the instructor who is dictating the speed and direction of the rally, or the conversation. They adjust what they are doing according to how the other player is working, but ultimately, they are the instructor. The instructor is there to teach the other player and to help them break through the walls and steps they need to get through in order to be successful.

Recap: Becoming A Rainmaker

Of course, this must be done tactfully. There is a level to which you can’t tell your prospect the next call WILL be at a specific time and date, and they WILL bring their VP on the call, etc. You need to establish the control cleverly, by explaining why the VP needs to be on the call, for example. After all, if sales people had zero control they would spend all of their time talking to lower level employees who couldn’t actually implement a change at senior level.

key sales skills for tech salespeople

Top 5 Key Skills Needed For Absolutely Crushing It In Tech Sales

In this article, we’ll breakdown the top 5 key sales skills that are essential for high performance in tech sales.

When it comes to sales professionals, there are the good ones, the bad ones and the ones that are simply great at what they do.

The bad ones are easy to spot. They’re the ones giving the profession a bad name and tend to fit in with the negative stereotypes we see and hear about in the media. Bad salespeople tend to focus only on themselves and what they stand to gain in making a deal happen. They give little thought, if any, to how the deal will impact their customer. They’re also usually very disorganized and sometimes even outright dishonest about the terms of the deal.

What all this amounts to is a horrible customer experience and one that will not keep them around for very long. This commercial about a badger personified as a used car salesman, though fictional and exaggerated, provides a perfect example of what a bad salesman is likely to act like:

Good salespeople are a little different in that they don’t work with customers in a way that leaves a bad taste in their mouth. They’re usually pretty friendly and diligent in getting their work done. They deliver on what’s promised and do their best to live up to expectations but where they fall short is in failing to go above and beyond. Most average salespeople, are just that. Average. These are the guys that, as most would say, simply go through the motions. They approach their work as something that just needs to be done rather than taking pride in the fact that they’re able to provide value to their customers.

That’s where great salespeople set themselves apart. Great salespeople take pride in what they do and live for the mission of continuing to provide that value. So how do you go from being a good salesman to a great salesman? There are a lot of factors that affect what makes a great salesperson and those factors will likely vary depending on who  you ask. However, here’s a targeted list of the key sales skills that will unequivocally up your sales game if you focus on developing them.

1. Grit

According to Angela Lee Duckworth, the greatest predictor of success, and even more important than IQ, is grit. Grit is the ability to continue pushing yourself to working hard even in the face of what are seemingly insurmountable odds. The people with high levels of grit are those that are able to keep themselves going even when others have lost hope and given up.

This is directly relevant in the world of sales because let’s face it, sales is definitely a numbers game. There may be lucky streaks where you manage to find a series of wins in a short amount of time, but more often than not you’ll have to comb through a hundred “no’s” before you make it to that elusive “yes”. Those hundred “no’s” can definitely start to feel like an eternity.

What often happens is that after hearing no for the first 30 or so times, many salespeople start to lose their fire. Each failed attempt seems to chip away at their hopes of success and leads them to lose their vigor. Even more so, some salespeople also seem to give up from simply not being able to get a hold of someone and assume that a lack of response means that there’s a lack of interest.

The great salespeople go to great lengths to ensure they get an answer from their prospect, whatever that answer might be. They’ve developed thick skin and are able to persevere in the face of all these difficulties, knowing that it’s only a matter of time until all their hard work pays off and they land that one huge success that makes it all worth it. They don’t let the small losses affect them because they understand that these are minor roadblocks in their inevitable path to success. They’re professionally persistent and optimistic that an opportunity always exists until there’s definitive proof that demonstrates otherwise.

2. Emotional Intelligence

Great salespeople are also very effective at understanding their customer’s needs. The reason they’re so great a this is because of something that’s widely known as emotional intelligence. They’re able to put themselves in their customer’s shoes to really understand what’s important to them. What are the needs versus the wants? What are the biggest pain points and challenges the customer is facing? What are the risks involved with going forward or not going forward with the deal from the perspective of your buyer? These are all questions that a great sales professional should easily be able to answer when evaluating a deal.

They understand that the customer is not concerned with how large the commission check will turn out to be and are instead more focused on the value they will recognize from buying the product or service that is being offered. The greats are able to recognize that if they properly identify this value, they can use that knowledge to quickly close business with agreeable terms.

Another reason that great sales professionals develop their emotional intelligence is that they understand that there’s a premium associated with trust. Trust will beat price any day, which the reason why brands that people know and love are so valuable. Unless price is the most important factor in your prospect’s criteria, building trust and value is the best way you can increase your odds of winning that deal. If the price difference is marginal the customer will almost always go with the vendor they’ve developed the most trust with during the buying cycle.3.

3. Time and Task Management

Being busy does not always mean that you’re being productive. So you’ve made a hundred dials today and had 15 or so conversations? So what? If those 15 conversations were with the wrong people or at companies that don’t fit in with your ideal customer profile, you may find out in a few weeks that those opportunities may never amount to anything.

In sales there truly is a benefit to working smarter and not harder. Therefore the great salespeople know how to effectively manage their time and recalibrate their focus on the most important priorities. They identify the target companies and prospects that have the highest likelihood of bringing in business and they focus extensively on those.

Those highest on the leaderboards are also very cognizant of the health of their pipeline. They recognize that even if they have a ton of deals currently in the works, if there’s nothing filling up the top of the sales funnel, they’ll eventually find themselves with a dead pipeline somewhere down the road. Therefore these guys are ALWAYS prospecting, no matter what. If they work at an organization that doesn’t provide business development support, they find the time to put in even just a few hours each week to make sure they are finding ways to continue feeding their pipeline. In doing this, they’re able to keep their results consistent unlike the average sales professional who may fall victim to more streaky sales as a result of improper pipeline management.

4. Navigating an Organization

This may seem fairly straight-forward but there’s a slight finesse that’s required in effectively navigating an organization. Most people probably think that you just need to get a hold of the right titles with the right message and everything will be golden but that’s not always the case.

There are situations where you may just catch someone on an off day and therefore won’t be open to any messaging no matter how it’s positioned. Additionally, there’s always the chance of something getting mis-communicated or misunderstood. Therefore it’s important to understand how your prospective company is organized so you can use that knowledge to your advantage when trying to figure out who the best alternative people are to reach.

For example, let’s say you pitched to a Director at Company A but for some reason he or she just didn’t buy into your value proposition as strongly as you would have liked. The deal cycle starts to stagnate and not much activity is happening within the account. You’ve sent 15 emails and dialed them over 10 times. Instead of pestering that same person and potentially souring the relationship it may be better to find someone else who can champion your company internally. However, there would be no point in reaching out to anyone else in the same team as it would roll back up to the same Director and he or she will ultimately come to the same conclusion that your company’s value is questionable.

You should instead understand how the company is mapped out and find another relevant Director, or even someone at the VP level, to re-pitch your product or service to. Explain things to your new prospect in a way that makes sense to them and let them convince your old prospect to change their mind. The same message can sometimes be received very differently depending on the source.

5. Storytelling

Of all the skills on this list, the ability to effectively tell a captivating story is probably the most important. There’s something about the human mind that makes it easier for us to remember stories better than lists of facts. Great sales professional use this to their advantage by weaving their value propositions and previous achievements in throughout the course of a story.

Where the average sales person may come to a meeting to simply ‘show up and throw up’, the seasoned professional will take a minute to bring some calm and comfort into the situation. They’ll spend a few minutes building up rapport and then find ways to lead the conversation towards the ways in which their company is working with or has worked with other clients for their benefit.

Compare the following two examples.

Example 1:

“Hello Mr. Client, thank you for your time today. I’d love to talk to you today about the new amazing features our product is capable of and how it will benefit  you moving forward. With Feature X, your employees will be able to accomplish their daily tasks with 15% greater efficiency. Additionally in switching to our product, our other clients are also seeing cost savings as high as 5 to 10%, resulting in an average ROI of 135%. Most importantly, we keep our customers happy and can even prove it with our 95% retention rate.”

It might get a few people’s attention so not bad. But…

Example 2:

“Hello Mr. Client, thanks for taking the time to speak with me today. I understand that you’re currently looking for a new solution that can help you save some money while also helping increase the productivity of your employees. Is that correct? Great. Let me introduce you to Acme Corp, one of our current clients. Their business isn’t exactly the same but it’s fairly similar to yours and they actually approached us because they were facing issues that mirror much of what you’ve been telling us about so far. They’re workforce was not as productive as they would have liked and they thought they were overpaying with their previous vendor. After switching to our product, they were able to increase their company’s productivity by 15% and save 8% on their yearly contract. After only 2 years of using our product, they realized an ROI of 135%. To this day, John, their CEO, says that he couldn’t be happier with his decision, which is actually not uncommon for us to hear given that we have a retention rate of 95%.”

Perhaps not the most eloquent of examples but I hope it makes my point. Given that it will likely be a few hours or even a few days before your prospect will have to share his or her thoughts with the rest of the team on what you’ve presented, it will be the second example that will be the easiest to remember. Unlike the first example, it juxtaposes the situation before and after the decision to do business with your company and does so in a logical manner that’s easy to follow.

There are of course many other skills a true sales professional will likely want to develop beyond those on this list but focusing on these 5 should be a good start for those looking to get themselves to the next level. If you’re lacking in any of these areas right now, spend the next few weeks really working on developing these skills. You may be surprised at how quickly they will start to have an impact on the success you’re seeing with your own deals.

-Dean Park

Dean Park is a seasoned tech sales professional that’s been involved with a wide range of organizations from startups to enterprise businesses. Dean is also a sales mentor at GrowthX Academy in San Francisco.

Get approached by tech companies offering tech sales jobs.

SPIN Selling

SPIN Selling: A Legendary Sales Methodology To Guide Your Discovery Calls

In this post we’ll breakdown everything you need to know about SPIN selling, and how to use it to guide your discovery calls. 

What Is SPIN Selling?

Spin selling guides the sales conversation once a prospect is engaged. It helps the sales professional understand what types of questions they should be asking in order to conduct an effective discovery call. Let’s take a closer look and go over what each letter in this acronym stands for. We recently did a breakdown of BANT, so check that out too if you’re curious. 

S – Situation

S stands for Situation and these questions are used to help you get a better understanding of what’s going on in your buyer’s world. Through this line of questioning, you should be able to uncover what’s been happened with the prospect historically and what led them to begin a conversation with you. You should be trying to identify the key facts that help you effectively understand the background of your buyer and his or her organization.   

Here are a few examples of Situation questions you can ask on your next discovery call:

  • What are you currently doing today and how does that compare to what you were doing in the past?
  • What’s leading you to explore a new solution now?
  • What tools are you using and what does that process look like today?

Once you have a clear understanding of the facts and where your customer stands you can move on to the next part of the acronym, which is the P.

P – Problem

P stands for Problem questions and these should be used to have your customer divulge to you their pains. You should aim to learn what’s causing them trouble and pushing them to look for a solution.

Much like the situation questions, you are simply collecting facts. You want to get a solid understanding of what is bothering them and what it is they are trying to fix. After all, the job of a great salesman is to be a helpful consultant. How can you consult on an issue if you don’t even know what their problem is?

Here are a few problem questions you can look at as examples of what you should be asking:

  • How much time are you spending doing this process manually?
  • Do you ever have instances where something falls through the cracks?
  • Is this issue having a negative impact on your business?

I – Implication

Now what comes next is I which stands for Implication questions and these should be used to highlight a cause and effect relationship based on your understanding of the buyer’s current situation.

Truly skillful salesmen set themselves apart through their masterful use of these types of questions. By asking the right questions, the sales rep can bring the prospect to realize themselves the severity and importance of the problem at hand without explicitly telling the prospect. When done effectively, the customer will essentially come to sell themselves on the idea that something needs to be done, and FAST.

To help you better understand what implications are and how you can use them, check out a few of the examples below:

  • If you don’t do anything to change your current process, what do you foresee happening to your business moving forward?
  • If you don’t address these inefficiencies, how much would that cost your business on a yearly basis?
  • What’s the opportunity cost of not bringing in a new solution and addressing this issue?

If you’re really good at utilizing this framework you can even piggyback off your problem questions to lead into the implication ones.

Let’s take some of our examples from earlier to help illustrate what I mean:

  • How much time are you spending doing this process manually?
  • If you continue to go about this in the same fashion, would that negatively impact your other responsibilities?
  • Do you have instances where something falls through the cracks?
  • What was the business impact in those kinds of situations?
  • Is this issue having a negative impact on your business?
  • If you don’t do something about it now, what do you think the annual cost to your business will be?

N – Need Payoff Questions

N stands for Need-payoff questions. What this means is that you should be using these questions to highlight what the customer stands to gain by choosing to move forward with your product or service.

What are the benefits in working with you and what do they stand to gain by doing so?

Below are a few examples of need-payoff questions to help you better understand what they are and how you can use them in your own sales processes:

  • By automating processes that you’re doing manually today, how much time do you think you’ll be able to save?
  • What are some ramifications you can foresee from having more freed up time?
  • By implementing a solution to address this issue today, understandably you’d be saving a lot of money. What would those savings mean for your business?
  • By using a tailor-made system built just for your business, you’ll likely see a huge jump in efficiency and ultimately your business’ reputation which is actually something you can advertise. Do you find value in having something like this as a competitive differentiator?

Conclusion: SPIN Selling

Granted the examples I’ve provided may not be the perfect match for every situation and every product or service but hopefully, it provides you with a basic understanding of what this framework is and how to use it. Using this simply as a model to guide your future sales processes, hopefully, you’ll be able to conduct extremely effective discovery calls that will ultimately lead to greater sales.

Additionally, because we are condensing the book into a short blog post these are essentially just the fundamentals. If you want to take a deeper dive and really expand your knowledge on how to most effectively use the SPIN selling technique I’d recommend picking up the book and giving it a read yourself. There’s much more detailed information in there around the effective use of this framework that we aren’t able to cover here.

-Dean Park

Dean Park is a seasoned tech sales professional that’s been involved with a wide range of organizations from startups to enterprise businesses. Dean is also a sales mentor at GrowthX Academy in San Francisco.

Get high paying Account Executive sales jobs at Rainmakers!

BANT: Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline

Sales Acronyms – BANT: What You Need To Know

The professional world of sales is filled with acronyms and terms that are used for the sake of brevity and efficiency. Each industry has their own unique set of acronyms that stand for different things. Sales is no different. Allow me to start with BANT.

What is BANT? 

BANT stands for Budget, Authority, Need and Timeline. It was first developed at IBM some time ago and has since revolutionized the way that people sell, particularly in the software industry.

The reason it became so popular was that it was a simple framework by which anyone could quickly and fairly accurately qualify their sales opportunities. By ensuring that reps were able to pull the necessary information and identify 3 of the 4 items in this criterion, sales managers could be confident that the situation at hand was indeed a genuine opportunity with a strong likelihood of closing.

B – Budget

If a prospect was to inform you as a rep that they have already set aside a budget for the initiative at hand, it’s a strong indicator that the company is serious about making something happen. Whether that opportunity for business is brought to your company or not is an entirely different story but at the very least you know that target account has the necessary funds if all things align.

That said, you might start to think that the ideal sales situation is to always have a budget already identified. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. Having a budget before engagement definitely means that there is serious consideration but there are external factors you also need to consider.

For example, having a budget set means the prospect has already put a price in their mind on how much they value your particular product or service. Furthermore, if they do already have a budget pre-determined it’s likely that it’s been set due to their engagement with another vendor. This is not at all a guarantee but it’s definitely a possibility.

A – Authority

Having authority in this process means that you as the rep have identified who the stakeholders, decision makers and financial signers are for this initiative within the account. The reason I separate these individuals is because oftentimes, and especially in a larger organization, these are different people.

For example, when a company is looking to bring on a new tool for their sales team, the stakeholders are the members of that sales team as they are going to be the ones using the tool day in and day out. If the tool that’s brought on board happens to be ineffective or have a horrible user experience, they are the ones that are going to have to suffer and as so understandably they have a huge stake in the evaluation.

Having a huge stake in the decision though does not make them the decision maker. There is always someone who needs to approve the decision; someone to give the final okay before everything is finalized and agreed upon. It’s possible that the decision maker ends up actually being a group of people but they are usually managers, directors or other executives in the organization.

A decision maker’s signature will definitely be necessary to complete the deal but more importantly, you’ll also need the signature of someone in charge of finances in order to finalize any paperwork. Depending on the organization the decision maker may also be the financial signer, that is they’ve been given authority over finances, but more often than not this is likely to be a different person who sits in the finance department.

N – Need

Now to move on to the need. Understanding the need of an organization is to understand their situation and challenges. In essence, this is the why behind the initiative. What is motivating them to pursue your product or services? Why are they choosing to engage with you now?

Are they just kicking the tires because it seems to be the new industry trend? Or is it perhaps in response to some incident that has recently occurred within their organization?

Whatever the motivating factor is, it’s very important for you as a sales rep to identify what it is. This can perhaps be considered to be one of the most important factors of this criterion as it will give you the most power in being a successfully persuasive sales professional. The stronger their motivation, the more power you have to sell without a discount or push for a quicker sale. Maybe even both.

T – Timeline

Having a timeline means that you have spoken with the prospect and they’ve mentioned there being a specific date by which they’d like to make a decision or finish implementation.

This is perhaps the second most powerful factor of this criterion as it’s another lever you can use to speed up your current sales cycle. If ever you feel as though the progress in the sales process is slowing down, you can kindly remind your prospect of their goal to have the solution or service implemented by a certain date.

From there you can work backwards to illustrate what groundwork needs to be laid out in order for you guys to meet their given timeline. The keyword here being their timeline. This is not a time frame that you as a rep are imposing on them but rather one that they’ve divulged to you for whatever reason.

Your power now comes in being a diligent consultant that’s working to help your prospects better achieve their goals.

Conclusion: BANT

Hopefully, this quick overview of the BANT qualification criteria has been useful in helping you understand how you can better qualify your opportunities. It’s highly likely that it’s something you are already using for your day-to-day work but perhaps this has given you some deeper insights as to why this method of qualification has become such an industry standard.

-Dean Park

Dean Park is a seasoned tech sales professional that’s been involved with a wide range of organizations from startups to enterprise businesses. Dean is also a sales mentor at GrowthX Academy in San Francisco.

Get high paying Account Executive sales jobs at Rainmakers!

a player in sales top performer

“A-Players” In Sales: 4 Secret Characteristics Of Top Performers

When it comes to running a sales organization, every manager knows that there are different kinds of players you can have on your team, and they usually come in 3 categories: you have the A-Players, the B-Players and the C-Players. For the most part, people seem to agree on what defines a C-player and a B-player. In this article, we’ll uncover what makes an A-Player in sales, and why they tend to get the best opportunities in sales.

C-Players

The C-players are the people that are usually a little lower in the ranks because, as we’d expect, they do the bare minimum to get by. They’re the ones who seem to get their work done just barely one time. They also tend to make excuses, and need more attention / coaching during 1 on 1’s and quarterly reviews than others to get their performance to up to a satisfactory level. As a manager, these are the players you want to avoid because they’ll be the ones that can turn into time sinks and even negatively impact your team’s culture and productivity. As an individual contributor, this is the category you obviously want to avoid falling into as it will destroy your chances at upward mobility and even more so if things happen to take a turn for the worst, you’ll likely be among the first on the chopping block.

B-Players

B-Players are consistent and reliable performers. When something needs to get done you can rely on them to get the job done correctly and in a timely fashion. They have a solid understanding of what is expected of them and do what it takes to deliver on that expectation. B-players are those who need little to no coaching but are still able to keep their productivity at the level it needs to be at. However, when something comes up that requires them to go above and beyond their job description or put in more hours than is necessary, there may be a little of push-back. Regardless, these are still people you want to keep on your team as they are very important for keeping a well run and organized business.

A-Players

It’s well accepted that these are the individuals who go above and beyond the call of duty. These are the “5 star recruits” that you want to attract and hold onto as long as you possibly can because they are the ones that can truly help move your business forward. The qualities of an A-player however are more widely debated because different characteristics are more important depending on the manager and industry that individual is working. That said, here’s a short list of qualities that would apply universally to an A player regardless of someone’s industry.

1. They reach for stretch goals and hold themselves to a higher standard.

Stretch goals are those objectives that are just beyond our reach and so many of us choose not to set them. Instead, we may opt for something more achievable so we can feel good about ourselves when we do meet our goals. A-players, however, do not share this same restraint. Instead, they put aside all fears and purposefully push themselves beyond their limits understanding that it’s only when they are forced out of their comfort zone that they are able to grow the most.

Another reason A players are so valuable is because of the higher standard that they hold for themselves. Unlike a B-player who may be influenced by the lack of motivation they see in a C-player colleague and ultimately have their productivity drop, the A player will just keep on chugging at their normal pace. They are completely undeterred by others and are motivated entirely by their own desire to succeed. Best of all, they have the complete opposite effect on the team’s culture and productivity that a C-player has. Where a C-player may negatively impact a B-player’s productiveness, an A-player can bring up the motivational energy in both the B-players and C-players.

2. They understand the importance of teamwork and communication.

It’s probably not uncommon for an A-player to prefer getting work done on their own as they usually see themselves as the most capable people for the job, but at the same time they’ll recognize when something is beyond their bandwidth and will effectively employ the help of their colleagues to get the job done. For example, in an organization that has a role for a Solutions Consultant (SC) or Solutions Engineer (SE), an A-player Sales Rep will recognize that they don’t need to invest all their time and effort to preparing for an upcoming demo. Instead, they’ll make more effective use of their time by focusing their efforts on managing the relationship with their prospect and effectively communicating the wants, needs and pains to their SC/SE so that they can be topics of focus during the presentation.

They’re also the ones that often take that extra effort to make sure everyone is on the same page.

When dealing with prospects, they ask questions like

“Am I understanding that correctly?” or “So you’re telling me x, y and z. Did I hear that right?”.

They understand that sometimes you need to slow things down to speed things up and so they put in the extra effort to make sure that they are as clear as possible in their communication as to avoid any confusion and issues down the line.

Jon Miller, Co-founder to both Marketo and Engagio, once said,

“The most successful reps are often the most paranoid. They are always on the lookout for what could go wrong and take proactive measures to prevent them.”

A-players are also the ones who understand that recognition for good work does not have to be a zero-sum game. When the team works towards a successful endeavor, they readily give credit where credit is due understanding that this builds trust and more effective collaboration amongst the team in the future. They truly embody what the definition of a “team player” is.

3. They are in tune with the company’s vision and take initiative.

A-players don’t need to be told what to do. At any given point they understand what the company’s goals and objectives are and take action towards these goals on their own accord. They don’t worry about the minimum metrics required of them by the company and instead keep their focus on results and the bigger picture. They understand that reaching their hundred dials or two hundred emails will ultimately amount to almost nothing if they’re not being sent to the right people with the right message and towards the right objectives.

Additionally, these are the people who aren’t afraid to act on their own and don’t feel the need to always ask for permission. The reason these individuals have the confidence to do so is because they have the capability to put themselves in management’s shoes and understand what the best courses of action are moving forward. This is particularly what makes them attractive to their managers in the future as candidates for promotions, and usually the reason why they’re even considered in the first place.

4. They’re able to put the good of the company before their own.

This doesn’t mean that A-players are people you can easily take advantage of. In fact, that’s a sure-fire way to ensure you lose these A-players. Since A-players are so capable, they’re usually very smart people with a strong level of intuition. Therefore, once they get a sense that they’re being treated or paid unfairly they’ll be quick to find another opportunity that better suits their standards. A-players may choose to focus on their careers over their personal lives but they won’t stand to have it imposed on them.

Rather, what this means is that A players are those who are able to take a look at a situation and play through in their heads what the repercussions of their decisions will be. For example, they may understand they could make a false promise to a potential customer to quickly make the sale and a quick buck. However, they’re able to foresee that in doing so they are setting the company and customer success team up for failure and therefore opt for the high road of doing right by the customer, even if it means offering a discount or foregoing the deal altogether if there truly isn’t a good fit.

They’re also the ones that aren’t afraid to lend a helping hand to those in need. If a teammate is struggling to fill their pipeline and actively voices a request for help, these are the guys that are willing to take a moment to provide some advice for how to get their colleagues back on the right track. I’ve seen many A-players take the time to help their colleagues practice their pitches and demos, even offering to join them on their next calls as a means of support, often times without expecting anything in return.

-Dean Park

Dean Park is a seasoned tech sales professional that’s been involved with a wide range of organizations from startups to enterprise businesses. Dean is also a sales mentor at GrowthX Academy in San Francisco.

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