How leaders build strong tech sales reps

Building a sales team

Sales automation technology is powerful, and development teams rely on it more and more to keep up with demand. However, as we keep up aggressive KPIs with automation tools, we must at the same time remember to move beyond the technology to enable and develop new reps and teams.

We will be hosting a panel and networking event this Thursday at our MuleSoft HQ in San Francisco featuring Steven Broudy, Head of Account Development, Americas, to explore how sales leaders can leverage traditional methods of sales development to grow new sales reps into confident leaders in the organization. We sat down with Steven to get a preview of some of the proven methods the Account Development team at MuleSoft uses to instill confidence in new reps and to measure KPIs for quality as well as quantity.  

Four questions we asked Steven about building strong reps:

1. Sales/Account Development Reps (SDRs/ADs) are measured by specific KPIs such as the number of cold calls, connects, and emails sent every day. How does the emphasis on high volume of transactions impact the quality of those transactions?

The volume of top of funnel activity metrics needs to be viewed not as a success metric, but rather, as a variable that one needs to control for. Controlling for this variable is critical for driving effective performance management and in-line coaching.

If a rep is failing to perform, these metrics are the first place to look. If the rep simply isn’t completing enough activities, then they aren’t filling their personal funnel, and you cannot and should not expect them to perform.

The correct volume that should be determined either by benchmarks for new reps (based on other reps in the org), or based on a tenured rep’s previous activity/success metrics.

It’s critical to point out that viewing activity metrics themselves as “success metrics” incentivizes a system in which quality is not top of mind for a rep. Countless stories abound about reps with activity MBOs tied into their comp plans dialing the same number countless times in order to keep their volume high.

 

2. What is the domino effect that forms from this top-down strategy when pipeline and leads are looked at with quantity in mind over quality?

When interviewing candidates for our Account Development team, I often encounter experienced SDRs— really intelligent, strategic-minded reps—who felt burned out in their previous role because they were simply hooked up to a power dialer and forced to stay on the phone and have the same, pre-canned conversation with someone over and over again.

If you give a rep three seconds to compose his or herself and research a prospect before introducing themselves to that prospect on a call, there’s no way you can reasonably expect that rep to have a highly personalized conversation. Nor should you expect them to truly deliver value to a prospect.

 

3. All new sales reps face steep learning curves, which can lead to a diminished sense of confidence. Current research suggests that confidence must be developed through deliberate practice, not just engaging in activity all day. How do effective sales leaders stay confident?

One of the more influential figures in sales today, David Sandler, has said that one of the most critical beliefs a salesperson must strive to embody is, “I’m working because I want to, not because I have to.” If you can externally embody the idea that you’re “independently wealthy and don’t need the business,” it will likely pay dividends.

At MuleSoft, we have a proven track record of enabling IT executives to drive the broader strategic objectives in their business by rethinking their connectivity strategy. It’s important to recognize that. Being confident that you’re actually doing your prospects a service is powerful, and instills a greater willingness to engage them.

That, and constantly striving, deliberately to improve one’s sales skillset creates confidence. We’re committed to being not just a world-class research, qualification, and appointment-setting team, but also the industry’s best highly-complex sales development team. That necessitates constant, deliberate practice.

 

4. When teaching prioritization skills to new sales team members, what are the foundational building blocks that should be learned or focused on first?

As a practice, the managers on my team actually sit down with reps and help them build out a business plan and set up their calendar, ensuring they actually have a prescription for how to most effectively spend their time.

We intentionally build in a lot of white space, ensuring that as they get up to speed they can accomplish their core responsibilities and most urgent and important tasks within the prescribed time.

We’ve actually built that same business plan to automatically update with their past activity, conversion, and performance data to give them an idea of the volume of activity and the conversion rates they need to drive to be successful.

Learn more at our panel and networking event

Reserve your spot to hear more from Steven, as well as Falon Fatemi, CEO, and Founder at Node; David Sill, SVP of Customer Success at DiscoverOrg; and Rich Liu, VP of Corporate Sales at MuleSoft, this Thursday at 6 PM at our networking event in downtown San Francisco HQ. To learn more about our Account Development team, check out our Careers page or drop Steven a note.


 


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